Influencer marketing strategy, although being fairly new to the B2B marketing mix, has changed a lot since its first use, particularly in the B2B space. What's different in the B2B marketing strategy? How can you use it to its best advantage in your own strategy?
Let's dig into these questions and more as we discuss the ins and outs of influencer marketing. From the meaning of influencer marketing to the latest influencer marketing trends, you'll find out everything you need to know about this modern strategy.
An Influencer Marketing Definition & How to Find the Right Influencers for Your Brand
For a solid influencer marketing definition, let's turn to the experts at TapInfluence, who give us this explanation:
"Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the larger market. Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, you instead inspire / hire / pay influencers to get out the word for you."
But let's add a little more to this influencer marketing definition, shall we? Influencers in particular are those who have a large social following and who have a deep connection to that following. Almost every industry has its own influencers, who have a level of authority that audiences listen to and act on.
How does working with an influencer help your brand? Modern audiences have begun to view brand messages and advertisements with a healthy dose of skepticism -- after all, you are will show your product or service in the best light. But in using an influencer that your audience trusts and values as your go-between, you use their authenticity and connection with their audience to bolster your message and get heard.
So knowing what influencer marketing is, how should find the right one for your brand?
For starters, don't simply go by the numbers. We'll get into this more later, but suffice it to say that the best influencers are those that have a deep connection with their audience -- not just a large following. Look for influencers whose audiences are more engaged and who have proven their influence with other brands.
In the end, influencers are as varied as the brands who use them. Take your time to find the influencers who are the best fit for your brand. Research their social and online activity. What do they write and talk about? How does their audience interact with them? Such answers will guide you to find the right fit.
What Has Happened in Influencer Marketing Trends?
In the beginning, the view was to find the influencer with the loudest voice -- the one who had the largest following and the biggest feed.
But with time and experience, we've zeroed in on ways to improve influencer marketing and adjust our strategies for success.
Here are a few areas where influencer marketing has changed...
In the past few years, we have seen influencer marketing become more legitimized. Instead of haphazard, one-time campaigns, we see real partnerships form between brands and influencers.
Rightly so, influencers are now seen as a more long-term solution.
How does this change your strategy? Instead of sending off a basic pitch email to a large spectrum of influencers, brands are now honing their pitch emails to cultivate a relationship with influencers.
We've also seen a fundamental shift in the way brands view influencer metrics. In the beginning, the most important metrics were how many likes and comments an influencer campaign created.
While these are still important metrics to show the impact of a campaign and the visibility of your brand, there are other metrics that you should follow.
Many brands finding it more beneficial to track their return on investment using sales metrics.
How can you get these sales metrics?
Create an affiliate link for each influencer with whom you work. Using this link, you can see just how many people click through to your landing page and make a purchase.
If your sales process is more complicated, look into sophisticated influencer marketing software, such as Traackr or Klear, to gather a range of data that shows what influencer campaigns are impacting your sales.
Instead of simply sending off a campaign for a chosen influencer to share, brands have begun to include influencers in the creative process.
This has led to some amazing results. While brands have a good handle on the message they want to share, influencers often have a better handle on what their audiences want and need. If you want to engage their audience and convert them into leads for your brand, you need the valuable creative input that influencers bring to the table.
Remember, influencers have become influencers for a reason. They have been creating content for their audience for a while and know what types of content and messaging appeal to them.
Now that we've discussed some basic influencer marketing trends, let's look at how you can further adapt your strategy to best fit into this new era of influence.
How to Adapt Your Influencer Marketing Strategy for Success
1. Engage Micro- and Nano- Influencers
Micro and nano influencers have a smaller audience than the standard influencers. Micro influencers are those with audiences ranging from 5-10,000 followers, while nano influencers are those with audiences of 1-5,000 followers.
Why would brands want to go this route as opposed to regular influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers?
Smaller influencers have a much more loyal audience base and have been shown to have higher levels of engagement as opposed to their big-name counterparts.
In addition, partnerships with such micro and nano influencers are often much easier to negotiate and navigate.
2. Don't Try to Be Perfect
Audiences don't want perfection -- a.k.a, the perfectly positioned brand photo or the flawless, picture-perfect story. They want to see and hear about real experience from real people. When you try to tailor and mold your influencer marketing in order to come off as the "perfect" brand, it may backfire.
Instead, work with an influencer to share experiences that are real and genuine. Such honesty can attract people to your brand in a way that absolute perfection could never do. Don't script every word for your influencers -- give them leeway to share their personal thoughts and observations about your product or service. Instead, give them a general idea of what you want, but then give them the freedom to talk to their audience as they normally would.
But balance is also required. You don't want your product to be seen as undesirable. In short, you want an influencer campaign that is genuine and authentic without being careless and haphazard. Doing your research ahead of time can help you to avoid the wrong kind of influencer.
3. Tell Stories and Educate
Storytelling has become a first-class tactic in many B2B marketing strategies -- including influencer marketing. What is storytelling? It is the use of a story or narrative to connect with your audience and share with them your brand's values. This could include the story of how your brand started or how you have helped a client to resolve a problem.
Much like other B2B marketing tactics, straight-up advertisements or promotions do not work with influencer marketing. Instead, work with an influencer to tell a story or share an experience that incorporates your product or service.
Education is another awesome tactic for influencer marketing. Again, this tactic takes the spotlight off of your product or service and focuses the attention on helping your target audience. Many brands have found it helpful to collaborate with influencers to create a guide or other content that provides help and support to their audience.
Search for questions that your target audience has or issues that they face in their business. Once you have a few topics in mind, create content yourself or work with an influencer to create content. Co-authoring a piece of content with an influencer can lend more weight to the message and leave a positive impression with your target audience about you and your brand.
4. Tap Into Your Employee Base
If influence is what you're after, then you might not have to look far to find it. Many brands don't realize what an immense power they have within their very own employees.
When you consider how much reach is in the hands of your employee base, it might even exceed your company's total audience. By utilizing your employees as influencers, you can often reach more eyeballs than before.
Encourage your employees to repost company-created content on their social feeds. Research has shown that this method on average creates 2.1x more click-throughs than a simple company status update.
How can you encourage your employees to act as influencers on your behalf? One way is to create a reward program for employees who share company-created posts with their social media audiences.
5. Vary Your Content Formats
The truth is that B2B has often created content that is well... boring. Blog posts and ebooks have always been the go-to content formats for B2B brands. And while these are still vpowerful content formats, your audience might need a little more.
Put bluntly, as B2B companies, it's time to step up our game and bring other content formats into the mix.
Emerging influencer marketing trends would suggest mixing up our strategy with the use of video, interactive content and AR/VR content. This kind of content helps to engage audiences on a new level.
How could you use this content in your B2B marketing?
For starters, look at online video tools like Lumen5 or Powtoon to turn your content into a vibrant, entertaining explainer video. Look at ways to present your information through interactive means, such as calculators and quizzes.
Such influential content can help to strengthen your overall B2B strategy, but in particular it will help to boost your influencer campaigns and engage audiences in a new and exciting way.
6. Leverage Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence is an ever-growing tool in marketing and PR strategies, and has a large potential for influencer marketing. With artificial intelligence, your influencer choice and strategy does not have to be a shot in the dark.
AI gives you the ability to choose the best influencers, topics and content formats so every aspect of your strategy hits the mark.
Consider the capabilities of data analysis. AI has the ability to analyze mountains of data in the span of seconds and deliver valuable trends and predictions that you can use to alter and bolster your strategy. This is something that human intelligence alone could never achieve in the same time period.
As influencer marketing strategy evolves, it offers an exciting opportunity for brands to adapt and reap the benefits of this exciting, new strategy.
What exciting developments in influencer marketing have you noticed? Let us know in the comments below.
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