MarketingProfs B2B Forum 2023

Cut the BS: B2B Influencer Marketing Strategies That Actually Work, with Ashley Zeckman

Influencer Marketing is today’s social-media-focused spokesperson.

But does influencer marketing work in B2B? And who is a good influencer for your brand, anyway?

In this clip from B2B Forum 2023, Ashley Zeckman, VP of strategy and customer success for Onalytica, shines a light on six different influencer marketing models and why you may want to use each.

If you’re curious how influencer marketing can work for you, watch the video or read the transcript below.

B2B Forum brings new and innovative ideas to hundreds of marketers every year. Whether it’s using AI in marketing, building your influencer marketing strategy, or becoming a marketing leader… B2B Forum is designed with actionable sessions that bring you a higher marketing ROI. Join us in November for B2B Forum 2024, live in Boston. Tickets are available now at their lowest price. Click here to learn more.

Transcript:

I think a good visual representation of why you might want to partner with influencers could be to build trust and credibility, like we talked about at the beginning.

Building just general awareness, so reaching more people in your target audience that follow these experts that you want to work with.

It also works for demand gen. I think when we first started influencer marketing—and where many companies are still struggling today—is that it feels like it’s just an awareness play or a thought leadership play, right? “The only reason to partner with influencers is so that you can increase the amount of traffic to a blog post.”

But in all actuality, if implemented correctly, you are able to serve full-funnel marketing with influencer programs. And we’ll talk a little bit about that because I believe that was one of the prompts I had you write down.

Also, it can be an incredibly cost effective way to scale your content production.

So instead of hiring additional staff or additional agencies to produce the high quality content that you want, you can partner with experts to do that. Some of which is organic, some of which is paid, right?

So there’s a few different options. Again, we’ll go through what it looks like, and then again, that increasing that quality and content, and then scaling from an organic perspective.

This is an example. If you are looking to, okay, an awareness and thought leadership program. So it could be that you’re looking to increase your website traffic, grow your follower base, and integrate influencers and SMEs and execs into the program.

That’s an example of an awareness program. You’re not looking to drive leads. You have to lead with this, right? What are the things ultimately you want to achieve? 

So I take a second. I’d write down again, even if the things that you want to achieve aren’t listed here, maybe two or three different things that you definitely want to achieve as part of your program in general. It doesn’t have to be with influencers, but what are the things that you are targeted on?

And then a second option—again, if you want to drive content downloads, drive leads, improve your content quality—that could be an example of a demand gen. So again, they should be led by the tactics you want to execute.

That, again, is B.S., right? Because they should be designed to align with those tactics designed to align tactics, influencer type, and KPIs with those target objectives that we just wrote out.

So let’s take a look next at the different types of influencers you can work with.

So this is an example of, let’s call it six different archetypes of influencers. 

So you have your professional influencers. These are the people that do this for a living. They’re very well recognized. They have a very large audience. They’re fairly relevant for a variety of topics, and they have great general authority, right?

The reason that you want to work with professional influencers is because this helps to increase your overall awareness and reach.

If you look at content creators, which kind of falls, I used to only have five up here. Now I have six because we have to talk about the creators. They aren’t quite the professional influencers. They’re not quite micro influencers, but there are people that are creating a consistent amount of quality content.

You want to work with these influencers in particular because you can trust they’re going to create great content for you. They don’t have quite the audience size. They’re about equally as relevant. They have the same general authority, but again, they’re just, they’re really focusing on the content creation and not necessarily in some cases becoming a professional influencer. 

Then you have your niche experts. So these are people, they don’t have a large audience, but that’s okay. Audience is not the only thing we need to be looking at.

These people are super, super relevant for very specific topics. So these could be your data scientists, your engineers, people that have that expertise but aren’t creating content, are not interested in becoming a professional influencer, but have the technical knowledge that your team needs.

I can’t tell you how many teams we’ve worked with where it was difficult, because these are—in B2B—there’s some very complex topics that we need to cover. And as a marketing person trying to absorb all of that and then spit it back out in a way that your customers want can be incredibly difficult.

That’s why you work with people like this, right? The more you can get out of their brain and have them participate, the higher quality your content is going to be. 

There’s also up-and-comers. We can call ’em micro influencers. We can call ‘em whatever you want, there’s a different name for everything.

These are people that are on this path to becoming professional influencers. They’re not there yet, so their audience is smaller. They’re still building up their expertise, but the reason that you want to work with them is because eventually a good portion of them will be here. And if you can build up that advocacy when they’re still trying to build their influence, help them build their influence, shine a light on them, you’re going to create some really great advocacy with them as part of your program.

SME and execs, it’s a gold mine. The people that you have internally, again, they tend to be more on the niche side and that they have some deep expertise. More often than not, these are people that don’t have a big social following.

We do tons of audits for clients on LinkedIn and Twitter just to see where their execs and SMEs are engaging, interacting. The answer is usually that they are not, or they’re doing it in a way that is very just focused on pushing brand content or brand initiatives.

But again, they have a lot of expertise. Include them in this mix. And the great thing about surrounding them by these other types of influencers is that it builds up their thought leadership and influence as well. We even go so far as to match and execs with these them to start engaging, interacting co-creating content online.

And then last but certainly not least, are customers and prospects. So another gold mine. People with expertise, people that you want to deepen your relationship with as customers that you want to remain sticky with within your business, and then prospects that you want to get in front of. 

One of the easiest things to do that can start building that relationship is—no shocker—not having your sales team reach out to them, but having someone on the marketing team reach out to them and say, “hey, we are doing a roundup of 20 predictions on the next thing in B2B marketing. We’d love to have you contribute.”

It’s a very, very simple thing that you can do to build that relationship with them that isn’t a cold sales email.

And the other thing with customers as well is that, by co-creating content with [them], you’re able to help the rest of your audience see themselves in the content. They have the same hurdles, they have the same things that they’re experiencing.

So it’s a great way to, again, build that relationship further, but also create content that your audience is craving.

Have you used influencers to share technical information or build relationships with your market?

In November, more than 50 marketing experts will share their knowledge with your B2B peers at B2B Forum. We’d love to hear your voice in the conversation. Tickets are limited and available now, with discounts available for PRO members and teams of 3+ marketers. Click here to get started.

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Published 02/07/24

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