B2B Influencer Marketing: Is it worth it?

By Ariana Donaville

Over the past few years, business-to-consumer (B2C) companies have relied on influencers to market their products to their targeted publics. While many B2C companies have seen great success from influencer marketing campaigns, business-to-business (B2B) companies have struggled to see the value in implementing influencer marketing strategies. They find themselves asking, “how useful is an influencer to a business-to-business organization?”

Influencer marketing can be a useful strategy for B2B companies because it allows organizations to build new relationships with established thought leaders and fulfill a buyer’s need for third-party validation when purchasing from a vendor. 

In a survey sponsored by Demand Base, survey respondents ranked experts/analysts, peers/colleagues and web searches as the first three resources that informed them about a product. Additionally, 53 percent of survey respondents reported that social media played an important role in their decision to purchase technology tools or services. 

As few B2B companies have managed to implement successful influencer marketing campaigns through social media, many others are looking to jump into the relatively new space. 

B2B companies should consider these three steps when implementing an influencer marketing strategy:

Step 1: Create an influencer marketing strategy

Influencer marketing strategies come in all shapes and sizes. Before jumping into an influencer marketing campaign, communications professionals should draft an initial influencer marketing strategy. A basic influencer marketing strategy consists of identifying an influencer through first or secondary research methods, engaging with the influencer and establishing expectations and rewarding the influencer once the job is complete. 

Step 2: Identify an influencer

Identifying an influencer is no easy task. When vetting if an influencer is a right fit for the organization, you should consider the three “Rs”

  • Reach: Does this person have a large following? How wide is the influencers reach? 
  • Relevance: Is this influencer relevant to my campaign? Does this influencer’s values align with my organization’s values? Does the influencer speak to topics that are similar to my industry or product?  
  • Reputation: Does this influencer have a positive reputation? 

Step 3: Set expectations and establish goals with the influencer

It is important for B2B organizations to be honest with the influencer about their goals. Organizations must set clear expectations with the influencer surrounding the content they expect to see from the influencer’s social media handle. 

To sum it all up, B2B companies can benefit from influencer marketing strategies, as they allow for purchasers to receive third-party validation when purchasing a product for a company. Mishael Brito said it best, “The most effective way to overcome a B2B decision maker’s skepticism is by influencing their decisions through trusted third parties.”

This Article Has 5 Comments
  1. Ariana, thank you for sharing more of the B2B influencer perspective! This, coupled with Kent’s presentation, helps really paint the picture of the struggles organizations go through to find influencers who align with their brand and values. Even with the three R’s, I can imagine it’s tough to guarantee that an influencer is right for the organization. I would agree with Kent that the best influencer marketing is by finding influencers when they’re just starting out and growing with them through the years. This method helps ensure that the influencer and company’s values can grow alongside of each other rather than trying to make an influencer/company relationship work with misaligned values. I found an interesting article (https://digiday.com/marketing/still-much-wild-west-influencer-marketing-deals-now-focused-performance/) that focuses on how companies are not not looking at followers, but at the number of likes and engagement rate. This makes me wonder though how will companies gauge whether an influencer relationship is worth it if Instagram takes likes away? I guess only time will tell!

  2. Kristin Schlotterbeck says:

    Very useful perspective, Ariana. This makes me think of my organization’s goal to become a thought-leader in our field, providing resources and information to other organizations in order to advance the field. Obviously, we’re nowhere near influencer level yet, but it does make me think about ways we could perhaps be engaging to build our organizations’ reputation. One avenue would be through providing more webinars and conference workshops to build our reputation. Perhaps someday we can get to influencer status!

  3. Enton says:

    Those are some really great insights you mentioned. Another interesting perspective on B2B influencer marketing would be the audience, who are brands or the influencers communicating to. Are the audience going to be the end users of the products or services? Are they going to be the decision makers or are they going to be the top executive level officers? In my opinion, that’s almost the most important element to figure out before deploying a campaign or selecting the pool of influencers.

  4. Hana C. says:

    Ariana, what a useful guide to B2B influencer marketing! I have never worked for a B2B company and never really thought about how they market. Working for a B2C company, we receive a LOT of requests from companies wanting to do business with us – whether it be for manufacturing, marketing or other work. We usually receive requests through the typical “Can I Buy You a Coffee?” emails, which I tend do briefly look over and delete. If I saw a company working with a businesses who influences our own company, this would likely make me take a second look at working with them myself. If a brand I trust, trusts another business, this gives me more confidence that working with them could be a good idea.

  5. Drew Hanson says:

    The “Three R’s” are definitely important for a business looking to hire an influencer. Actually, that’s one of the questions I have. How would a business find an influencer to conduct B2B engagement? Would this be undercover sales? The company is essentially hiring the influencer to recommend the company’s product or service to other businesses. I guess I’m just really curious what avenues/channels the influencer would use to influence prospective customers.

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