Influencer marketing is by no means a new concept. However the context has changed a bit, leaving some companies a bit muddled as to how to put influencer marketing to good use. That is, how does influencer marketing help to drive B2B leads?
It doesn't take a specialized degree to realize that mentioning an influencer's Twitter handle can have an impact on your post's traction. However, influencer marketing is much more than mentioning one of the cool kids.
Influencer Marketing in a Nutshell
While some would define the way they use influencer marketing differently than others, the bottom line is that influencer marketing involves:
Using the clout of industry-relevant professionals who are happy to lend a word or a nod to your brand in a way that drives actionable results.
Clearly, the concept is not new. From radio stars touting the benefits of Lucky Strike cigarettes in the 30s to sneaky product placements in Gimore Girls, marketers know that we, as the audience, are influenced by those we admire.
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Or, for a more cheeky example...
You're likely not looking for Tina Fey to promote your product, though. You'd be happy with a mention from an industry professional, or even a retweet. In the end, how does this drive results and boost B2B leads? How can you really leverage the power of influencer marketing?
Influencer Marketing Q&A
“Traffic and followers are only meaningful to the extent that the infleuncer is reaching your brand’s target audience. –Holly Hamann
Q: How do I find the right influencers?
A: Start by looking at the people you follow on social media. Whose content do you consistently find relevant to your brand? Next, take a look at your inbox. While you may have signed up for emails you thought were going to be valuable, but they actually land in your trash folder, you've also likely subscribed to updates from certain influencers whose emails brighten your day. These are your buds, your circle... your influencers.
In addition, you can use search tools like Hashtracking to identify the number of times a certain hashtag has been used on Twitter or Instagram, and then proceed to see who is using them. For more on using hashtags, check this post out.
Q: How do I get an influencer to promote my brand?
A: This is a tricky one for some people. Remember: Your online life should somewhat mimic your real life. That is, would you walk up to someone at a party and say "Hey, you're super popular and everyone listens to what you say. Here's why you should tell everyone how awesome I am?"I hope not.
Rather, what do you do when you admire someone? You likely engage the person in conversation about topics that are of mutual interest. You don't try to force the relationship. The same approach works online. Let the relationship evolve organically by reaching out, engaging in online conversation, and by being gracious. If it doesn't happen, back off.
However, if an influencer finds your brand relevant and engaging, it's a good bet they'll want to promote it without even being prompted.
(Click here to learn how to be more effective in influencer marketing.)
Q: Is the number of followers an influencer has relevant?
A: Yes, and no. Yes, because if you're looking to run a Twitter campaign, you want the help of someone who is actually active on Twitter, and has a decent following. Believe or not, there are still some influential executives who are not on top of their game, Twitter-wise,
No, because there are those on social media who have thousands of followers, but those followers have little intention of engaging. A smaller audience with a more focused view will serve you better in regards to increasing B2B leads than those who have won a popularity contest.
As Jay Baer says:
Q: Should I compensate an influencer for marketing my brand?
A: This is a question only you can answer. You may feel that supplying an influencer with your product is something you feel comfortable doing.
However, my take on this is that offering compensation can take away from the authenticity of the promotion. For example, how many of us think that William Shatner and Kaley Cuoco actually use Priceline to book their travel? Exactly. We know they're getting paid, and that is the driving force behind their promotion of the brand.
You don't want audiences to think that the influencer is not genuinely behind promoting your brand. We've all read those Amazon reviews where we can tell that the person is being paid to write a five-star review (despite his or her insistence of not being affiliated with the company).
That said, you don't want to be unappreciative. Moreover, an influencers' time is valuable. Determine what you can do that rewards the influencer, while maintaining the credibility of the promotion.
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Q: I've found my influencers. Now what?
A: Continue to engage with them on a human level. Influencers are not commodities, they are people, and need to be treated as such. Meet for coffee the next time you're both in the same area. Show appreciation for each mention they offer, as well as for their continued contributions to the field.
Q: If I'm following all of these suggestions, will that automatically increase leads?
A: Perhaps. Remember, though, that B2B buyers tend to take longer to make purchasing decisions, since they are often seeking long-term relationships with vendors. This means it will take some time for audiences to trust the relationship and camaraderie they see between you and the influencer.
However, the payoff for patience can be huge. Ultimately, and particularly so in the B2B world, you are looking for leads who will have a long-term relationship with your company and who will turn into influencers themselves, motivating others to jump on board.
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Next Steps to Boosting B2B Leads
Influencer marketing is a huge key to lead generation. However, we've only scratched the surface. Check out our latest ebook, A Visual Guide to Creating the Perfect LinkedIn Company Page. LinkedIn is the place to mingle with influencers, share content, and boost the visibility of your company. Check out this FREE resource and learn how to get started creating the perfect company page on LinkedIn!