Influencer Marketing for B2B Companies

By Michelle Alleman | Mar 11, 2021

Influencer marketing has the potential to deliver major results for businesses...even B2B companies. Read on to discover the power of influencer marketing and if it's right for your company!

Curious about utilizing influencer marketing for your company? We can help!

Influencer Marketing for B2B Companies

Influencer marketing is likely something you’ve heard a lot about lately. Considered to be one of the hottest trends in business right now, it’s no surprise that Influencer Marketing Hub projected the market worth to grow to $10 Billion in 2020. So, what makes influencer marketing worth so much, and more importantly, what even is it?

Influencer marketing is the use of social media influencers to market your brand over social media. Sprout Social defines an influencer as, “Individuals who have a dedicated social following and are viewed as experts within their niche.” In the business-to-business (B2B) industry, “influencers” can be referred to as “trusted experts,” “thought leaders” or “key opinion leaders” in order to avoid the stigma that comes along with the term “influencer.”

Why Influencer Marketing Works

The current social media landscape is governed by strict norms that covet authenticity. There is thus a strong distaste for anyone who appears to be “fake” or “too perfect.” Because of this, perfectly curated advertisements with big celebrities tend to be less successful than campaigns with influencers, who are considered to be more down-to-earth than big-name celebrities.

Since influencers typically aren’t famous for anything other than their social media presence, people consider them to be regular people and, therefore, are more inclined to trust their opinions. It’s basically the phenomenon of “word of mouth,” except that aforementioned “mouth” is loud enough to reach thousands.

Why influencer marketing works

Anyone who didn’t grow up with social media is probably skeptical about how effective it can truly be, but TapInfluence found that influencer marketing has an 11 times higher Return on Investment (ROI) than traditional marketing.

Would Influencer Marketing Work for My B2B Company?

While it may initially seem like influencer marketing isn’t appropriate for B2B marketing, it simply comes down to a change of perspective. First, consider influencers to be “trusted experts” rather than “influencers.” These people are experts in their field, whether that be a business-to-consumer (B2C) industry, such as fashion or food, or a B2B industry, such as manufacturing or finances. Remember, influencer marketing is just a super powerful version of “word of mouth,” which works in any field. In fact, Convince & Convert points out that “19 percent of the overall US economy (B2B and B2C) is driven specifically by word of mouth, but 91 percent of B2B transactions are at least influenced by word of mouth.”

There are a few key differences between B2B and B2C influencer marketing that you should keep in mind. The most prominent aspect being the end goal. While the main goal of B2C influencer marketing is to sell, the goal of B2B influencer marketing is to instill trust and confidence in your brand within potential prospects.

Since the goal of B2C is to sell a product, businesses should use several influencers at a time, usually as a “one-off” arrangement. The decision-making period for a B2C consumer is quick and impulsive, so they typically only need to see one post to make a decision.

Alternatively, for B2B consumers, the decision of whether or not to work with a company can take between 6 months to a year, with several interactions needed to convince a consumer. Therefore, for influencer marketing, B2B businesses should have an ongoing contract or relationship with an influencer for a substantial span of time (approximately 6 months to a year). This applies to any form of B2B marketing, not just on social media. That is the main reason influencer marketing should be used to create brand awareness and reputation, rather than convince someone to buy something.

How to find an influencer to work with

How to Find an Influencer to Work With

If you’re planning to try influencer marketing at your company, the first step is to determine what kind of influencer you want to work with. One important factor to consider is the number of followers they have on their account. You should be adjusting your expectations for follower count based on the industry you’re in.

For example, if you’re looking at an influencer from a niche industry, their 5,000 followers would be considered more impressive than another influencer who has 5,000 followers but is in a mainstream industry (such as fashion).

With that being said, an influencer could potentially have a large number of followers but almost no comments or likes on their posts.

This is where you’ll need to look at an influencer’s engagement rate, which offers you a snapshot of how likely followers will like, comment, or share an individual post. Take note that this does not directly reflect how many people are viewing the post, only how many people are interacting with it.

Engagement rate is calculated by adding together the number of likes and comments on a post, then dividing that number by the number of followers they have, and finally, multiplying that by 100.

Engagement Rate equation

Engagement rates are much lower than you may anticipate, mainly because social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram only show a small percentage of your content to your followers based on their proprietary algorithms. Also, typically, the higher number of followers a person has, the lower their engagement rate becomes.

Influencers can be broken down into 4 levels:

Find a mega influencer to work with

Mega-Influencers

-Over a million followers

-Celebrities and successful influencers

-Are usually paid 4 to 6 figures per post

~1% engagement rate

Find a macro influencer to work with

Macro-Influencers

-10K to 1M followers

-Are usually paid 3 to 5 figures per post

~2% engagement rate

Find a micro influencer to work with

Micro-Influencers

-1K to 10K followers

-Are usually paid 2 to 3 figures per post

~3-4% engagement rate

Find a local influencer to work with

Local influencers

-0 to 1K followers

-Friends and family

-Are not paid to post

-Engagement rate will vary

Once you’ve determined the type of influencer you want to work with, the next thing you have to do is find someone that fits that profile. A great way to start is to search for people that are already supporting your brand/company. If they’re already a fan of your product/service, then you know they’ll be able to promote your business in a genuine way.

Another way to find influencers is to search for “experts” in your industry that have a stable following. Before reaching out to someone, make sure they aren’t already promoting your competitor or have any conflicts of interest.

Also, don’t forget to look at the people you already work with. Does anyone in your company have a substantial following on social media? They could act as a brand ambassador.

Influencer marketing for B2B companies

Once you’ve determined the type of influencer you want to work with, the next thing you have to do is find someone that fits that profile. A great way to start is to search for people that are already supporting your brand/company. If they’re already a fan of your product/service, then you know they’ll be able to promote your business in a genuine way.

What Can We Learn from Influencer Marketing?

Whether you decide to use influencer marketing or not, there are plenty of lessons that can be taken from it. As a micro-influencer myself, I have learned a few dos and don’ts for the current social media landscape:

Do's for influencer marketing

DO

Be real and authentic

Create a conversation

Focus on your niche

Be highly specific and focused

If you use an influencer, allow your influencer to have a voice – tell a story, share an experience

Dos for influencer marketing

DON’T

Try to be something you’re not

Lecture or be condescending

Try to appeal to everyone

Post just to post

Give an influencer a pre-written block of text to copy/paste

What’s Next?

Influencer marketing shouldn’t act as your only method of marketing. There are several ways you could be marketing your company and brand. Don’t know where to start? Reach out to us at Mach Media Group. We’d love to help you strategize.

Want to get started with influencer marketing? We’ve got you covered. Or, want to improve your existing marketing strategies? We’ve also got you covered for that.