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Influencer marketing is the practice of reaching out to “influencers” within your market and collaborating with them to boost your brand awareness. These individuals are industry and product experts who have active social media networks with whom they communicate regularly. Typically, you will find influencers on LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter – and they’ll often use all three – but they may also be individuals who run a successful blog or website.
Why is Influencer Marketing Effective for B2B?
Influencer marketing has been a growing trend for several years, particularly for B2C. However, B2B companies also benefit immensly from this strategy:
- Influence Sells – Demand Gen Report’s Content Preferences Survey revealed that 72% of participants looked to industry peers when researching a B2B purchase decision. When asked, influencers will either recommend your business or a competitor; a focused influencer marketing program can help ensure it is the former.
- Hack Your Social Media Reach – Influencers have invested time and effort into building their influence and reach; by partnering with them, you can gain access to that reach, without the pain of building it. Even if your business has a large social media following already, an influencer will reach individuals you cannot; even when they overlap, the added social proof will help make more sales.
- Authentic Content – Influencers build their social media influence by providing honest content that educates and informs without appearing to be marketing. This builds trust, which means when an influencer does recommend a product or service, their followers take notice.
- Skilled Content Creation – Influencers are typically experts at creating great content; depending on their platform, this may be video, audio, written, or a combination of all three. These skills can provide a big boost to your content creation team; hiring an influencer who creates great video content, for example, could be both cheaper and more effective than setting up a video team.
How Can Businesses Start Influencer Marketing?
Getting started with influencer marketing is surprisingly easy because all the information you need to start is readily available.
Find Influencers in Your Market
There are many tools available that can help you find influencers, but they aren’t essential. Start your search with who influences you and your team, then look at who is influencing your customers. What blogs do they read? What YouTube channels do they watch? Who do they follow on Twitter? This information can be found by looking at their social media, or simply by asking.
Once you’ve met a few influencers, you can ask them for further recommendations. Because of their focus on networking and influence-building, most influencers will know other influencers in the same industry and may be able to introduce you.
Start by engaging with the influencer and their content before reaching out; it can be a good idea to have had some contact before reaching out to discuss an agreement. You’ll also want to invest in your own social media strategy – creating your own great content will help signal to the influencer that you might be someone they could work with.
Should Influencers Be Paid?
Some influencers will expect payment because they are providing a valuable marketing service, but this is not always the case. In Launch Metrics’ State of Influencer Marketing 2017 survey, 14% of businesses never compensated influencers, and 34% rarely did. Only 13% of businesses always provided compensation.
Influencers do have other motivations before partnering with your business: collaboration can help them grow their audience, create more high-quality content, and can boost their own image.