When you think of influencers, you probably think of Instagram models, TikTok corn videos, and emotionally driven and consumer-focused content. The world of B2B influencers is very different, and it can be complex to navigate when thinking about the problems your clients are trying to solve and the solutions they’re trying to sell.
Ultimately, the key to unlocking and creating an impactful influencer program is to take a B2Human approach. Business decision-makers are people and want to be treated as such, especially when we’re meeting them where they live — on social media. Business leaders are also consumers, and consumers are business leaders. Reconciling this duality opens up the opportunity to humanize your brand and reinforce an authentic connection with your audiences.
With 2023 on the horizon, we see a maturity in the B2B influencer space, one that will continue to evolve and grow. Here are a few trends we expect to see:
- Exploring micro-influencers
Here’s the kicker: you don’t need to work with influencers whose social followings surpass the size of your own. The ideal influencer for a B2B business isn’t necessarily someone with a huge following – it’s someone with the right following. When you work with influencers with smaller, more niche audiences, their followers are easier to reach, more engaged, and more trusting too.
It’s like a professional services technology company partnered with a financial influencer from a boutique accounting firm to draft sponsored content.
Today, people value authenticity and connection unconditionally. And the way to establish trust with new audiences is by working with micro-influencers who inherently embody these traits already. This approach is tested and will humanize and personalize your brand.
In thinking about the channels, we see micro-influencers penetrating in 2023 – we find taking a cross-channel approach is best. The most successful influencer relationships will amplify content across a constellation of channels, whether that’s filming a podcast on one platform, uploading the full video production on YouTube, then later sharing clips of it on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Another upside? It’s cost-effective. The more followers an influencer has, the more expensive it is to work with them. When working with micro-influencers, you can disperse your budget across several rather than investing in one macro-influencer.
- Always-on influencer programs
Working with micro rather than macro-influencers will also allow you to stretch your budget throughout the year, creating a consistent program more generally referred to as always-on.
An always-on program not only allows you to build trust with influencers internally, but externally as well. When your audience recognizes that an influencer is recurring and loyal, this creates an even stronger sense of brand trust. In addition, always-on programs help enhance brand or product awareness by reaching your audience at every stage throughout the year — from consideration to purchase.
It may seem like a big undertaking — but trust us, consistency is key.
- Prioritizing diversity
When exploring influencer programs, think about all the elements – including but not limited to sexual orientation, ethnicity, skin color, gender, body type, socioeconomic status, physical abilities, religious beliefs, and more. This might seem like more of a concern when working with B2C influencers, but employees and customers are ever-more conscious of companies’ commitments and attitudes. Representation does tell a more powerful story in large part due to relatability.
When influencer brand campaigns are authentically intentional, followers feel more connected to the brand and are more likely to try out an influencer’s recommendation. So marketers, don’t be afraid to step outside the box when it comes to influencer research, diversify outside of your brand norms and explore influencers that connect to your industry in various ways. It could introduce your brand to an entirely new audience. For example, one blockchain company partnered with a healthcare influencer to tell the story about how the technology could impact hospitals and transform the medical industry through better security, privacy, and accessibility.
- Investing in technology & processes
Many companies in the B2B space are starting to recognize the value of investing in solutions at every stage of an influencer campaign. After all, quality tools and clearly defined processes are the foundation of a successful campaign.
When creating an influencer program, using the right tool to build a library of potential influencers is critical. Finding influencers is easy, but finding the right influencers requires diligence and precision. You should review more than individual profiles – trends, audiences, and your competitors are all important points of analysis. You want a search tool that can account for each vector. Traackr, Klear, and Influencer.co are great examples of tools that take a wide range of data points into consideration.
Once your campaign is underway, real-time analytics and accurate reporting become a requirement. Adjusting messaging, targeting parameters, and deactivating non-performing content on the fly will make the best use of your budget. You spent a significant amount of time, money, and brain power to launch the campaign, so you should continuously monitor its health. As reporting tools become more widely accessible, expect to see influencers offering comprehensive performance reports (and charging accordingly).
If you don’t want to invest in tools and processes yourself, you can always lean on a marketing partner with the knowledge and technology required to maintain a performant influencer program.
Ultimately, influencers are here to stay. As you plan your B2B marketing and communications initiatives for the year, adding an influencer strategy can drive awareness and increase brand lift in the market.
Belle Quiao, Carly Sullivan, Haley Cook, Megan Castellucci, and Sky McMullen work for Method Communications.