B2B Influencer Marketing Explained
- B2B (business to business) marketing revolves around selling goods and services to other businesses, rather than consumers like B2C (business to consumer)
- B2B influencer marketing can be an important tool to reach a wide audience in the B2B world and build a strong brand
- For the success of an influencer marketing campaign in B2B, it is important to identify the right influencers to reach the right audience and establish long-term partnerships
While traditional advertising is becoming increasingly unpopular, social media users are not bothered by advertising labeled content. Instead, they consume product placements like any other posts and videos. This offers brands and influencers an unprecedented opportunity to promote products and services, including Mediapost. In combination, i.e. influencer marketing, both parties can naturally benefit from each other, as KOL (key opinion leaders) generally enjoy more credibility and trust.
Influencer marketing campaigns are aimed at consumers who, in the best case, buy or consume the product after it has been recommended by influencers. However, in addition to traditional B2C marketing, brands should not underestimate the potential of B2B target groups to increase ROI. How to effectively reach other brands and companies through influencer partnerships, read now on the Influencer Marketing Blog.
Influencer Marketing for B2B - A Small FAQ
To explain the most important questions regarding influencer marketing in B2B, we start this post on Kolsquare’s influencer marketing blog with a short FAQ on the most important points.
What Is B2B Marketing?
B2B influencer marketing is the collaboration with people or organizations that have a significant impact on a company’s target audience (B2B). This target audience is precisely other brands, companies or industry experts who are part of your niche or can complement your product catalog.
B2B influencer marketing focuses on building relationships and partnerships that can lead to long-term business benefits. This type of marketing is typically used to increase brand awareness, build credibility and generate leads for B2B companies. In short, B2B influencer marketing is not solely about directly increasing your ROI, because that will be something you can only determine later, but like public relations (as opposed to advertising), it’s about planting seeds now to reap the rewards of it in the near to distant future.
What Are Corporate Influencers?
Corporate Influencers are people who work for a brand as “regular” employees and report about their work online (publicly). This makes corporate influencers the best brand ambassadors, as they can communicate goals and campaigns authentically and at the same time with the best possible (internal) expertise. Are the so-called employee advocates even the influencers of tomorrow?
Moreover, corporate influencers have a strong presence on social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram and are considered experts in their field. Unlike mere employees, you can be sure that corporate influencers already have a broad audience.
Unlike traditional brand ambassadors, corporate influencers are not necessarily paid to promote their company’s products or services. Instead, they are encouraged to share their experiences and insights in this way. Corporate influencers can also help humanize a brand by giving it a face and personality that customers can identify with. By showing the people behind the brand, companies can create a sense of trust and authenticity among their target audience, which can ultimately lead to greater brand loyalty and customer retention.
The Differences Between B2B and B2C Influencer Marketing
Compared to B2B influencer marketing, B2C influencer marketing involves working with influencers who have a large following on social media platforms such as Instagram, YouTube or TikTok and can promote a product or service to a large consumer base. B2C influencer marketing focuses on driving sales, increasing brand awareness and creating a buzz around a product or a service.
The main difference between B2B and B2C influencer marketing is the target audience. B2B influencer marketing targets a narrower and more specific audience, while B2C influencer marketing targets a broader audience. In addition, the content and messages used in B2B influencer marketing tend to be more educational and informative, while B2C influencer marketing is often more focused on entertainment and lifestyle content.
The Benefits of B2B Influencer Marketing
The benefits of influencer marketing are evident, which is why the industry is expected to grow to about $21.1bn by 2023, according to the Benchmark Report from the Influencer Marketing Hub website.
- Increased brand awareness: Working with influencers who have a large following in a particular industry or niche can help a B2B company reach a broader audience and increase brand awareness. This can be especially beneficial for companies that are just starting out or trying to enter a new market.
- Improved credibility: Influencers are often seen as thought leaders in their industry, and their endorsement can increase a brand’s credibility. By working with KOL, a B2B company can leverage the trust and authority that these personalities have built with their audience.
- Targeted Audience: B2B influencer marketing can help companies reach a highly targeted audience. By working with influencers who have a specific focus or niche, a company can ensure that its brand message reaches the right people.
- Cost-effective: Compared to traditional advertising, which can be expensive, B2B influencer marketing can be a more affordable option. Even though some influencers now charge a significant fee for their services, the overall cost is often lower than other forms of advertising. Also, read the guide to negotiating prices with influencers on the Kolsquare blog.
- Increased lead generation: Influencers can contribute to lead generation by promoting a company’s products or services to their audience. When an influencer shares information about a product or service, it can generate interest and leads for the company.
- Increased engagement: KOLs can create engaging and informative content that can help increase the engagement of a company’s target audience. By working with an influencer to create B2B content, a company can provide value to a wider audience and build a stronger relationship with partners.
Overall, B2B influencer marketing can be an effective way for companies to build brand credibility and thought leadership in their industry, as well as reach their target audience more effectively.
B2B Influencer Marketing Trends
Several B2B marketing trends are currently shaping the industry. Some of the most notable ones are:
- Personalization: B2B buyers, like B2C consumers, are looking for personalized experiences that address their specific needs and problems. For your B2B audience, this may be even more important, as you want to build a close, two-way contact. Accordingly, account-based marketing (ABM) is increasingly growing as a way to target and engage specific customers with a personalized approach.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI is being used in B2B marketing to automate processes, analyze data and deliver personalized experiences. Kolsquare has a complete solution based on the latest technologies for your influencer marketing strategy.
- Video marketing: Video content is becoming increasingly popular in B2B marketing, as it allows companies to showcase their products and services in an engaging way.
- Sustainability: Environmental awareness is generally on the rise and climate change is a frequently discussed topic. With your CSR, you should clearly position and communicate how you intend to produce products more sustainably or do more for the climate in the long run. A “green-footprint” is also important for B2B communication.
- Virtual events: With the pandemic, virtual events have become the norm. Today, webinars or online meetings are an effective strategy to engage with B2B companies in a professional and resource-efficient way.
How Does Business-To-Business Influencer Marketing Work?
B2B influencer marketing involves seeking out influencers in a specific industry or niche and leveraging their expertise and audience to promote a brand’s products or services.
The process typically involves finding influencers with a strong following and credibility in the target industry or audience, building relationships and co-creating content or campaigns with them to promote the brand’s offerings.
B2B influencer marketing often involves longer-term partnerships and collaborations, as the goal is to establish the brand as a thought leader and trusted authority within the industry. Influencers may be involved in creating content such as blog posts, social media posts, webinars, podcasts and white papers. They may also be invited to speak at industry events or contribute to industry publications.
How to Launch an Effective B2B Influencer Marketing Campaign
Creating effective B2B influencer marketing campaigns requires a well-thought-out strategy that is aligned with the brand’s goals and target audience. A successful campaign needs to identify the right influencers, more on that in a moment, set a clear strategy and measure the success of the campaign using relevant metrics. Below are some key considerations for developing a B2B influencer campaign:
- Establish clear messages and goals: A B2B influencer campaign should have a clear messaging strategy that aligns with the brand’s goals and target audience. Communications should be consistent across all content and channels. The brand’s value proposition and unique selling points need to be clearly conveyed.
- Ensure transparency and authenticity: Transparency and authenticity are critical in B2B influencer marketing. It is important to disclose all sponsored content and ensure that the influencers’ recommendations are based on their genuine beliefs and experiences. This helps build trust with the target audience and avoid potential ethical issues.
- Measure success: To determine the success of a B2B influencer marketing campaign, it is important to establish relevant metrics and track them over time. Metrics can include engagement rates, reach, conversion rates and ROI. By measuring the success of the campaign, brands can adjust their strategy and optimize future campaigns to achieve better results.
In summary, developing effective B2B influencer campaigns requires careful planning and execution. By identifying the right influencers, setting clear messages and goals, ensuring transparency and authenticity, and measuring success, brands can create campaigns that resonate with their target audience and drive results.
How Do You Find the Right B2B Influencers?
Identifying the right influencers for a B2B brand is critical to a successful influencer marketing campaign. As a reminder, here are the factors to consider when selecting KOLs:
- Relevance: The influencers should be relevant to your brand and industry. Look for creatives who specialize in your niche and know your target audience well.
- Expertise: Select influencers who are true experts in their field and have a reputation for offering valuable insight and thought leadership. Their credibility and authority can help establish your brand as a leader in the industry. This point is quite important because your B2B target audience will most likely be more knowledgeable than other consumers.
- Target demographics: Make sure the demographics of your influencer audience match your target audience. Analyze followers to determine if they match your ideal profile, including age, gender, location and job title.
- Engagement rate: Consider the engagement rate, which has become even more important than the sheer number of followers. High engagement rates indicate that the audience is actively engaging with the creator’s content, which can increase the likelihood that your brand’s message will be seen and acted upon.
- Previous collaborations: Look at the influencers’ previous collaborations with other brands or consider extending your partnerships. Review the track record and then decide who is the best fit for your campaign.
Which Companies Are Running Successful B2B Influencer Marketing Campaigns: Two Examples of a B2B Influencer Marketing Strategy
Some examples of successful B2B influencer marketing efforts include IBM’s partnership with India’s leading fashion designer Gaurav Gupta, known for his dramatic and sculptural designs. IBM provided him with its Watson AI platform to create a unique sari, a traditional Southeast Asian garment. The combination of technology and aesthetics, a renowned company and a well-known designer worked well. The campaign certainly put IBM in the spotlight for some talent in the Indian IT industry, while the ROI doesn’t tell a great success story. Results included an article in Indian Vogue and one in the Indian tech magazine Gadgets 360°, as well as a 2017 YouTube video with 3,700 views.
Another example is the collaboration between SAP and supermodel Karlie Kloss for the “Code with Klossy” project. The goal of the campaign was to promote women’s interest in the IT industry through Klossy’s alter ego as a “nerd”. Although YouTube views are rarely in four figures, the campaign regularly generates content and reaches a wide audience through Karlie Kloss’ huge popularity and presence on other channels and platforms. SAP went even further and invited the model, along with numerous celebrities, to participate in a virtual “Take Your Child to Work Day” event under the hashtag #SAP4KIDS. This campaign was quite successful and resulted in over 100,000 clicks and a strong recruitment of future talent.
Digression: Influencer Marketing for B2B on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a powerful platform for B2B influencer marketing campaigns because it allows companies to connect with a wide range of thought leaders, industry experts and potential B2B customers. With over 700m members, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network, making it an ideal platform for companies looking to build relationships and become thought leaders in their industry.
One of the key benefits of using LinkedIn for B2B influencer marketing is its targeting capabilities. Companies can use LinkedIn to find and connect with influencers who have relevant expertise and a strong following within their target audience. This can ensure that influencer content reaches the right people, which can be particularly beneficial for niche industries or specialized services.
In addition to targeting capabilities, LinkedIn also offers several tools and features to support B2B influencer campaigns. For example, companies can use LinkedIn’s messaging tools to communicate directly. In addition, they can also use LinkedIn’s group feature to connect with potential customers and participate in industry-specific discussions.
Another important aspect of B2B influencer marketing on LinkedIn is the need for transparency and authenticity. LinkedIn users are typically looking for informative, educational content that adds value, rather than overtly promotional messages. Companies need to ensure that influencer content aligns with their brand values and goals as well as clearly disclose relationships or sponsorships with influencers.
The success of B2B influencer marketing campaigns on LinkedIn can be measured by several metrics, including engagement rates, click-through rates and lead generation. By tracking these metrics, companies can gain insights into the effectiveness of their campaigns and make adjustments as needed to improve their ROI.
Overall, LinkedIn is a valuable platform for B2B influencer marketing campaigns and offers a range of tools and targeting features to help businesses engage with influencers and reach their target audience.
Kolsquare is Europe’s leading Influencer Marketing platform, a data-driven solution that allows brands to scale their KOL Marketing strategies and implement authentic partnerships with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders).
Kolsquare’s technology enables marketing professionals to easily identify the best Content Creators profiles by filtering their content and audience, and to build and manage their campaigns from A to Z, including measuring results and benchmarking performance against competitors.
Kolsquare has built the largest community of influencer marketing experts in the world, and offers hundreds of customers (Coca-Cola, Netflix, Sony Music, Publicis, Sézane, Sephora, El Corte Inglés, Lacoste, …) the latest Big Data, AI and Machine Learning technologies to drive inspiring partnerships, tapping into an exhaustive network covering 100% of KOLs with more than 5,000 followers in 180 countries on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
As a Benefit Company, Kolsquare has been pioneering Responsible Influence by championing transparency, ethical practices, and meaningful collaborations to inspire change.