Given the rapid involvement of B2B brand influencers over the past year, the opportunity and impact of working with influencers has become clear, especially in the case of influencers’ content marketing, respectively. B2BIMreport:
- Results – 63% of B2B marketers agree that marketing would perform better if it included an influencer marketing program.
- Always on wins – 12 times more marketers who always run influencers’ marketing programs are very successful compared to recurring campaigns.
- Impact on CX – 74% of B2B marketers agree that influencer marketing improves the brand and customer experience of the brand.
1. B2B content influencer marketing is defined as:
The practice of engaging active networks with internal and industry experts to collaborate on content in a way that enhances mutual value and helps achieve measurable business goals.
2. How to involve B2B influencers in content
Most B2B-related influencers are organic, where the value exchange is a trade in content, an overview, or an advertisement about participating in a brand campaign. The best B2B brand-stakeholder relationships create mutual value and can do as much to create a profile of influencers as to create brand coverage for hard-to-reach stakeholders.
To understand the different types of involvement of influencers, it is important to understand that there are different influencers. This means that there are different uses for involving stakeholders, such as:
- The team of B2B brand teams can interact with analyst-level influencers to obtain original research.
- The B2B demand gen team can interact with a variety of practitioners to collaborate on campaign content, including blog posts, e-books, live video, podcasts, social graphics, and a webinar – you get the idea.
- The B2B ABM efforts can identify influential voices from the B2B brand prospect database and invite them to collaborate on content, which warms the engagement and facilitates sales conversations.
Learn more about involving B2B stakeholders here 25 B2B influencer marketing campaign and engagement ideas.
3. Where to start Influencer content marketing
It is important to understand on which topics the brand wants to make an impact – this is also important for customers. Then the task is to find the right influencers for these topics. You can use a tool like Traackr and others that act as a kind of search engine for influencers as well as influencers’ CRM and analysis platform.
From a process point of view, I would recommend getting help to make a pilot. This test can provide a wealth of insight into how well an outreach program could work for a brand – plus it can provide some marketing KPIs from the start.
Once the strategy, content framework, topic focus, and influencer candidates have been identified, the pilot can provide important insights on how stakeholder engagement can be optimized for a B2B content marketing program. From there, the process and software, with an always-on approach, will help change those initial efforts a scalable influencer program.
4. B2B influencers in content marketing activities
SAP is a Fortune 500 company with dozens of business units, each serving its own audience. The challenge of creating a single powerful marketing source to achieve multiple business goals required SAP to implement an influential content marketing process that would allow them to create a destination to meet the interests of business leaders in many vertical areas and technology-related topics.
The solution involved the creation of podcasts involving a host of influencers and a combination of industry experts and internal managers. To make the solution scalable, a process was developed with the help of a number of tools to identify, engage and activate influencers, record interviews, produce podcast episodes, publish and promote podcasts.
Each business unit contributed to the discussion topics and appointed internal experts to add influencer content. TopRank Marketing created a sitemap for each episode to match the branding and seasonal themes of the season. This map informed influencer issues and host segments, making each part a larger, coherent whole.
This approach allowed for faster and more efficient production, with episodes released on time and on budget. Not only that, the content itself was richer, there were several influencers per episode, and the topic-based storytelling proved to be more compelling than the traditional interview format podcast. By operating podcast production, SAP was able to coordinate a number of influencers across all business units, creating an engaging podcast season that provoked strong public opposition.
- Six 15-30 minute podcasts
- The potential reach of influential shares is 128 million
- An estimated 13 million impressions
- The number of podcast downloads is 66% higher than last season
Check it out creative assets of the campaign and a full case study.
5. What not to do when collaborating with B2B influencers on content
After working with B2B brands over the past 9 years as part of influential content marketing campaigns and ongoing programs, we have learned many good practices as well as what not to do. Here are some things you can do sabotage the marketing activities of your B2B influencers (so avoid them).
- Wait for recruitment – You will not take armies on the first day of the war. B2B influencer marketing is a relationship business and building relationships takes time. If a B2B brand does not work with an agency that already has relationships with top influencers (such as TopRank Marketing), it is important to start building relationships with potential influencers long before they are activated in the marketing campaign.
- Believing in the momentum of popularity The B2B marketing world trumps relevance and popularity. The number of large followers can be misleading and does not always mean the value that influencers can bring to B2B marketing. Big names and a large number of fans are useful for widespread attention, but not in the middle or end of funnel results.
- Going alone B2B marketers who are successful in other areas often believe that they can break the marketing nut of the influencers themselves. Failure to obtain expert assistance in developing and recruiting an advocacy program (if it does not exist internally) can be very time consuming and frustrating. 60% of B2B marketers stated that they do not influence the marketing of influencers because they do not have the resources or competence to do it in-house. Therefore, professionals such as TopRank Marketing, who have well-established processes, stakeholder relationships and deep experience, can play an important role in launching B2B brands.
- Content does not match – Human influence is specific to topics, content types, and channels, so when B2B marketers try to stream podcasts or write blog posts, it’s not always a good match. Not because the influencer can’t create other formats, but it’s not what they’re known for or what they’re optimized for.
- Business approach – B2B marketers who view influencer collaboration as an advertising purchase make the mistake of applying rules and behaviors that are not appropriate for the relationship business. Think less about transactions (we give you money or exposure and you give us content) and be more inspiring. Creating a great influencer experience means communicating a vision to be part of something that is relevant, engaging, and bigger than just the people involved.
- Failure to communicate effectively – Relevant, timely, reasonable expectations, respect, reflection and evaluation are all key features of effective B2B branding and communication between influencers.
Most B2B marketers have had to rotate during a pandemic, and the good news is that many new models entering the market have performed as well or better than pre-pandemic ones. The B2B digital transformation has affected marketing as much as any other aspect of business over the past year. These changes are increasingly important in relations with reputable voices in the industry on which customers rely for information.
Working with influencers on the content of B2B marketing is an effective way for B2B brands to optimize marketing. Identifying the most important topics for customers and then finding the right influencers for those topics with whom to pilot can be a great starting point for a long-term relationship that benefits everyone involved – especially customers who need reliable sources of information they buy, are successful and supportive.