Despite all the buzz, B2B influencer marketing is still a new frontier. True, the concept has been batted around a lot, but the rules and boundaries of this frontier are still being defined — especially in the B2B space!
A just-released study reports that 55% of B2C companies surveyed are running ongoing influencer programs. That compares to only 15% of B2B firms. Clearly, the use of influencer marketing in the B2B space is still evolving.
Yet, 71% of brand marketers surveyed ranked influencer marketing as a highly strategic or strategic marketing category. That augers well for B2B companies’ future use of influencer marketing.
The following chart shows how influencer marketing is an effective means of reaching many marketing goals.
One major challenge can be likened to the chicken and the egg conundrum. It lies in proof. Executives want to see results and progress before they invest more money into influencer marketing. Marketers, however, need more budget and resources before they have tangible results. So which comes first — investment of money or proof of concept?
Another such challenge is oversaturation. People are inundated every day with advertisements and companies vying for their attention. When a trusted influencer that they follow begins to endorse a particular company or product, they begin to question whether it’s an authentic endorsement, or just a sellout for a big payday.
How can influencer marketing overcome these challenges? Read on as we discuss what you need to do to keep up with influencer marketing.
How to Embrace the Future of Influencer Marketing
Effective influencer marketing starts with long-term relationships. Forget short-term campaigns and blog posts… Think bigger. Think team. Instead of using different teams to nurture and execute influencer marketing, use one dedicated influencer relationship team. This team will cultivate and nurture influencer relationships, executing a plan for their use.
Traditionally, influencers have been owned by marketing departments. Yet limiting influencer marketing to one department weakens the effectiveness of this powerful tool. Consider that it can be used to buttress sales, support, and loyalty programs, to name a few. Expanding its role has an added benefit: It helps make the case for executives to invest resources into an influencer program. Remember that It’s not just a piece of a bigger whole. It is its own entity, with the ability to deliver on ROI, market shares, and brand scores.
Marketing can at times be viewed as intrusive and impersonal. Influencer marketing can help to break that mold, and present a more personal touch to the everyday practice of marketing.
We’re not talking about tired celebrity endorsements. We’re talking about human beings who have developed a community of individuals who follow them for a variety of personal or professional reasons — and who have become their loyal audience.
Influencer marketing is not about using an influencer’s audience to broadcast your message — it needs to go deeper. If you want to be effective, you need to provide real value to both influencers and their audience.
This does not start with an influencer — it starts with you. Before you can market to individuals, you must understand what their values are, and prepare something that will meet those values. This takes time, care, and nurturing, when done correctly.
There is no more B2B or B2C. It’s human to human.