Many people associate influencer marketing mainly with bigger firms trying to sell their wares to consumers.
Although many small businesses owners may not even consider the advantages of influencer marketing, some have recognized its potential value and are actively engaged in it. A recent survey from Visual Objects found that 25% of small businesses use influencers to help manage their social media marketing.
Small B2B businesses specifically might not think of influencer campaigns as something to try, but they are missing an important opportunity to grow their company and improve their bottom line.
Can Influencer Marketing Work for Small B2B Businesses?
The use of influencer marketing for B2B companies is not as obvious as for a business trying to sell its product to consumers, such as Kylie Jenner making the case for buying a $10 smoothie. But influencers can motivate a small B2B business’s audience in similar ways.
The people making the decision on whether to work with your company are humans, subject to many of the same influences as the average consumer, as Influencer Marketing Hub notes. Therefore, influencers can introduce them to products or services they didn’t know they needed, or provide the final push necessary to close a deal.
Of course, B2B purchasing decisions usually involve more research, and likely more people. There may not be many Kylie Jenners for a small B2B company. But if your influencers are people respected in your sector, such as thought-leaders, market analysts, journalists, bloggers, or industry executives, this type of marketing could pay off.
Examples of Successful B2B Influencer Marketing Campaigns
The benefits of a successful influencer marketing campaign can have long-lasting benefits for B2B companies.
Among the companies that have had successful B2B influencer marketing campaigns are large corporations such as American Express, G.E., SAP, Time Warner Business Class, and PricewaterhouseCoopers, as well as smaller companies such as TopRank and VideoFruit, according to Influencer Marketing Hub.
SAP, which develops enterprise software for companies, has used third-party influencers, including independent business consultants, academics, and authors, to promote their products. At an annual user conference SAP organized in Orlando in 2016, the company livestreamed events with influencers and created interview-based videos which were posted on Facebook and also used in blog posts.
G.E. took a group of influencers, including some with large Instagram followings, on an inside tour of a research and development center, which the visitors shared with their followers.
Your B2B or small business may not be hosting national conferences in Orlando or have high-tech R&D facilities to tour, but there are likely opportunities for influencers to share content such as:
- A panel discussion held at your office
- A lively discussion with influencers at a local restaurant or brew pub
- Testimonials from well-regarded clients
- Video of influential customers using your product
Video content involving influencers is particularly useful as it can be adapted to other mediums.
“Video lends itself to being repurposed more easily than any other content,” said Jeff Gibbard, chief brand officer at From the Future, a digital agency in Philadelphia. “If you take a video, you can generally create a blog post out of that video, then take screenshots and turn them into Instagram posts. You can then create status updates.”
Ben Austin, CEO of U.K.-based digital agency Absolute Digital, spoke similarly on the adaptability and popularity of social media video content.
“The integration of video is an excellent way to drive growth across social media including on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram,” said Austin. “With Live Video becoming increasingly popular and more people wanting to watch a video that is related to the product or service before making a purchase, it’s important to carefully consider what your audience is looking for.”
How to Measure the Impact of Influencer Marketing
It can be difficult to determine how well influence marketing is working for your company. More than three-quarters of marketers (76%) name measuring the return on investment of influencer marketing campaigns as their top challenge for 2018, according to “The State of Influencer Marketing 2018” study by Linqia.
Forbes notes that influencer campaigns often do not lead to large sales increases initially, making it important to find other ways to measure return on investment.
A first step to measuring the ROI of influencer marketing is defining what you are trying to achieve.
“For most businesses, one of the [first] things we ask them is ‘What’s your goal?’,” said Shawn Alain, president of social media agency Viral in Nature.
The potential benefits of influencer marketing according to Traackr are:
- Boosting your company’s reputation
- Expanding brand awareness
- Increasing advocacy
- Reaching new targeted audiences
- Generating leads
- Improving sales conversion
Businesses often make the mistake of measuring influencer marketing success by engagements or impressions. These are vanity metrics that do little to demonstrate impact on purchasing behavior.
Nearly one-quarter of small businesses (24%) ranked engagement, such as likes, shares, views, or comments, as the most important metrics to track the success of social media campaigns, according to Visual Objects.
A better tool to track the success of influencer marketing could be leads and sales conversions through referral traffic. This provides useful measurements as to what campaigns are succeeding with their audience on various social media platforms, according to Smart Insights.
Companies can use Google Analytics to find out if influencer content is driving traffic to their website, and if so, which influencers, what content, and how much content.
Smart Insights also suggests using trackable links, such as UTM codes or unique discount codes, for each of your influencers to track their performance.
Another metric is the number of followers your company picks up after an influencer posts content about it. But businesses should not simply focus on the number of new followers; it’s important that the new followers actually engage with your company’s online community.
Influencer Marketing Can Boost Search Engine Results
The brand exposure influencer marketing can provide may be worth even more if businesses combine it with other brand-driven marketing efforts such as search engine marketing (SEM).
Appearing at the top of SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) means people view you as a resource about a topic. Influencers speaking about your company can also increase the legitimacy and trustworthiness of your brand.
SEM can establish and fuel traffic, leads, and conversions, which, in conjunction with influencer marketing, can be a potent way to increase the value of your brand.
Influencer Marketing Benefits Small B2B Companies
The bottom line is that influencer marketing is not just for big companies marketing to consumers. Small B2B companies also have the potential to see significant benefits from influencers sharing content about their products or services.
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