Unfortunately, B2B marketers don’t have much use for fashion bloggers. When it comes to influencer marketing, B2B businesses don’t usually see the greatest return on Instagram posts, Snapchat takeovers, and other creative forms of influencer marketing like consumer brands do. But that doesn’t mean they don’t also have a need for more “human” marketing.
After all, we’re all in the H2H (Human to Human) business. So, the natural first step when thinking about influencers for your B2B business is to ask yourself who knows and loves your product most. Who can speak genuinely about it? You might not have to look as far as you think.
Here are three types of influencers and how they can contribute to your content strategy.
Who better understands your product than those building, selling, and marketing it every day? So, let your employees do some of the talking.
Through an employee advocacy program, you can empower employees to start conversations about your product, promote your content, contribute original content, engage in social selling, aid in recruitment, and even become thought leaders in their own right.
By educating and mobilizing your employees you can reach more people than ever before. Whether their network includes a decision maker, an end user, or a future employee, the message will be more powerful coming from a person rather than a brand. A Nielsen report confirms this, stating, “The most credible form of advertising comes straight from the people we know and trust. Eighty-three percent of online respondents in 60 countries say they trust the recommendations of friends and family…”
A great example of a B2B company that helps their employees become influencers is IBM. Marketing Social Business Program Director Amber Armstrong even shared on Dynamic Signal’s website that they “drove 50,000 new registrations to IBM Verse in the first two weeks of launch—a lot of that due to employee advocacy.”
— Amber Armstrong (@ambarmstrong) June 26, 2015
A note on measuring success
Not only do these programs give your employees a place to find and share compliant content, but they also provide a great amount of analytics.
Through tracking your program’s selected hashtag, you’ll be able to see the impressions and engagements your employees earn on the content they share. SocialChorus even tells you the estimated monetary marketing value of each share. In the world of content marketing, it doesn’t get much better than that.
B2B CEOs can use social media and content marketing outlets to give their company a human face, allowing them to build relationships with media and analysts, amplify their company’s news and content, and develop the company’s reputation of success and innovation.
Surprisingly, this is a relatively untapped opportunity. According to the 2015 Social CEO Report by CEO.com, only 31 of 2015’s Fortune 500 companies CEOs are active on Twitter. One of those 31 is Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.
With over a quarter of a million followers, Benioff is a beaming example of how B2B CEOs can be social media influencers for their own company.
Tweeting an average of 5.5 times a day, Benioff uses the platform to bring light to the issues close to him, including healthcare, education, and climate change. He also shows off a little personality by sharing a photo of himself at a mindfulness retreat and sharing his condolences after the passing of one of his favorite actors.
Of course, he also uses his account in more obviously strategic ways—like for relationship building with the media, promoting press coverage, congratulating his company on a job well done and giving lots of RTs to Saleforce’s original content.
Congratulations Salesforce on achieving your first $2B quarter! No other top 10 software company is growing faster! pic.twitter.com/ulIZtjs6Of
— Marc Benioff (@Benioff) August 31, 2016
A note on measuring success
When leveraging a CEO as an influencer for his or her own company via social media, consider having your social and/or content team join forces with PR to both ensure and measure success—as there are a good deal of potential media benefits.
Not every CEO will be a natural born Benioff, so walk before you run. Think about holding a social media crash course, working with your CEO to build a custom social strategy or even having him or her enroll in your employee advocacy program.
No one knows your product better than your CEO and employees do, yet they can’t speak without bias like those outside of your company can. For this reason, content marketers shouldn’t forget about clients when it comes to their influencer strategy.
Client testimonials should be a staple for your B2B content strategy. Whether the content is used for marketing or sales, clients who use and love your product every day are some of the best people to help you influence your future clients.
An example of a company that does this well is identity and device management company, Okta. They tapped on clients to share their journeys and experiences with Okta and packaged these stories to skillfully illustrate how their product has helped their clients do their jobs.
A note on measuring success
Unlike the aforementioned influencers, the goal for engaging clients will likely be less about brand building and amplifying content and more about connecting and converting.
So, rather than focusing on quantity of people coming to a post or viewing a video, focus on how long they’re reading or viewing your content. The longer someone engages with your content the more likely it is you’re drawing in a legitimate and interested audience.
You might also think about adding a sign-up widget to get interested readers onto your mailing list. The number of sign-ups could be another good way to gauge the content’s success.
Just because you’re a B2B marketer, doesn’t mean you should rule out influencer marketing. Reset your perspective of who an influencer can be and your content can spread like wildfire.