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How to Manage B2B Influencers (Advice from an Industry Pro)

You’ve heard the buzz about influencers. They’re popping up on Instagram, TikTok, and even LinkedIn. That’s right, business-to-business marketing teams are using this strategy too. B2B Influencers help companies connect with business decision makers.

If you’ve never tried B2B Influencer Marketing, you probably have a lot of questions. We’ve asked our own influencer, Cole Williams, plenty of them. In this blog post, we’re sharing his insights and real-life examples from business leaders and marketing experts.

We’ll show you how industry influencers fit into your digital marketing strategy.  Plus we have four tips on how to manage successful influencer relationships.

What is B2B influencer marketing?

In the early days of marketing, an influencer was usually a celebrity spokesperson who talked about your product. Then, brand trust became more important. Content marketing was suddenly king. Companies went looking for new kinds of influencers.

Today social media has made it so almost anyone can be an influencer. Celebrities are still on the list, but so are industry experts, performers, and anyone who excels at making content.

Getting today’s hottest TikTok star to promote your accounting software probably won’t work. Instead, look for someone who is trusted in your industry. B2B influencers tend to be people who are already involved in thought leadership or use your products and services.

Remember that the decision maker at every company is also a real person. They probably spend time on social media just like you.

The video embedded below gives you a crash course in hiring an influencer.

Why use a B2B Influencer Marketing strategy?

The short answer is, because b2b influencer marketing campaigns work for many companies. They may be especially useful if you’re selling business services or technology.

Jamie Opalchuk, CEO and Founder of web hosting provider HostPapa, uses influencers for social media marketing. They were able to trace almost 2,000 new purchases back to a single TikTok influencer campaign. This marketing tactic also increased brand searches in the target country by about 50%.

How to Choose the right B2B Influencers

You might think that choosing the influencer with the biggest following is the best way to get your message out. In reality, quality often beats quantity of followers, especially in B2B. Not only will macro influencers cost more, they’re also less likely to have the attention of business decision makers.

Don’t just look for someone with a big social media presence. Look for relevant influencers with content that aligns with your business tone and philosophy.

Steve Pogson is the founder and e-commerce strategy lead of FirstPier. He recommends looking for real subject matter experts. FirstPier helped one company that was offering a novel concept breathing sensor to athletes. The market is “ready to learn, yet wary of over-hyped products.”

Getting exercise science organizations and athletes to be their influencers just made sense. These micro influencers may not have huge follower counts, but the people who do follow them really trust their judgment.

“Look for seasoned professionals that can offer intelligence and credibility to the table,” Pogson said.

Tips for Managing B2B Influencer Relationships

We asked our own influencer, Cole Williams, about his good and not so great experiences interacting with businesses as an influencer. He offered a few tips for how to manage B2B influencer relationships and build a profitable partnership.

Tip 1: Keep Direct Messages Short and Professional

Our own influencer, Cole Williams, said that most companies reach out to him through a direct message on Instagram. These messages usually include a sales pitch about why Cole might want to work with them.

Do: Keep your message professional and authentic. Don’t: Message from your personal profile.

Keep your message short and to the point. One paragraph is usually about right. If you do message from a personal account, make sure your content is professional looking. Your relationship to the business should be clear.

Be authentic. Leave the internet slang and memes to the TikTok stars, unless that’s really how your brand communicates.

Tip 2: Communicate and be prepared

Cole says influencer relationships can move quickly. The influencer already has a robust follower base and is a pro at creating content for them.

The bottleneck usually comes from the business. If they’re slow to respond or aren’t clear about what they need the process bogs down. If messages are being passed through a marketing agency, that can slow things down too.

Be ready to answer emails and offer approvals quickly if you want your campaign to roll out in a timely fashion.

Tip 3: Have realistic expectations

Even though influencers can move quickly, you should expect the creation process to take time. Getting your message and tone right may take a few iterations. Assume that the influencer doesn’t have a huge team ready to help with script writing, recording, and editing. They’re likely doing all of those things themselves.

Recognize the difference between an influencer who just says, “hey, try this product” and one who creates thoughtful and interesting content. The first type may be faster, but the second is more likely to offer real results.

Tip 4: Get involved, but not too involved

When you work with an influencer you’re not just borrowing their audience. You’re also getting the benefit of their creativity and style. Get involved in the creation process, but leave the creator space to put their personal stamp on the content.

If you’re looking for full control over the creative process you’re probably better off hiring a production company. Or you could try guest blogging, hashtag challenges, or paid ads.

a B2B influencer records content on his home system

Measuring Campaign Results

Just like any other marketing campaign, you should track results to decide whether influencer marketing is working for you. It takes a few days for the full impact of a social media post to be clear.

Your influencer can give you social media analytics to help track the success of your campaign. If you want a clearer picture, include a keyword or special link in your campaign. You’ll be able to link new customers to the campaign. You can also use Google Analytics and other tools to track how visitors are getting to your site.

B2B Influencers: A Part of Your Strategy

B2B influencers add value to your marketing strategy. But they can’t be the only way you reach customers. Strong web content, videos, and ads can help seal the deal. For help with video creation, contact the video marketing experts at IdeaRocket.

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