MarketingProfs B2B Forum 2023

Rise of the Internal Influencer with Devin Bramhall and Ashley Faus

Organic branded content is losing influence on social media.

If you want to expand your content’s reach, you have to pay.

At least, that’s how many people see it.

But Devin Bramhall and Ashley Faus have a different take.

You don’t have to pay to get your content out there.

Instead, you have to tap into your greatest resource: your employees.

Watch the clip of Devin and Ashley sharing their idea of “internal influencers” to a packed room at B2B Forum in 2023.

Hundreds of B2B marketers will return to Boston this November for dozens of sessions covering topics like social media marketing, AI, strategy, leadership, and more. We’d love to see you there, too. Tickets are on sale now for B2B Forum 2024—and prices are as low as they’ll go. Check out what’s waiting for you at B2B Forum.


Devin Bramhall: 

What’s happening is, B2B brands… they are losing influence.

And before we freak out, let’s unpack this a little bit and find the opportunity, right?

So… these are all things that you guys have seen, right? Social platforms deprioritizing organic branded content, long time ago. It’s all about pay to play now.

There’s an ongoing trend of declining trusted institutions, UGC, increasing support from all of these platforms.

And finally, as you all know, organic content just isn’t doing what it used to, right? It is not a unique advantage.

But all of these things together have given rise to a new growth leader.

And that is YOU, circa 2006. Time [Magazine] actually had it right probably this year. And it makes sense, right? Obviously.

So those sort of trends coupled with the rise of media as media content from everything from entertainment to education, there’s a lot of people going to places like YouTube for the kinds of B2B content they used to go to a blog for.

And what that does is naturally put the individual at the center, rather than the brand.

This is happening across more than just B2B.

You’ve got companies like Semaphore, where they put all of their writers at the center of their publication. Even Buzzfeed, in their investor letter earlier this year, you can see their strategic plan for the next several years. It puts humans at the center with AI as a supporting function. 

Ashley Faus: 

So this has given rise to what we’re calling, “internal influencers.”

So what does this mean?

53% of all global consumers see employees as the most credible sources for learning about companies.

And brand messages reach over 500% further when they’re shared by employees versus official brand channels.

Now you might be thinking, “oh, this is just another word for employee advocacy.”

That is one of the myths that we want to smash today.

This is not just employee advocacy.

So let’s talk about a few of the myths and the truths about working with internal influencers. 

First myth: influencers need to have hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.

But the truth is that influence is about authenticity, impact and resonance—online and offline.

And so I love this example of Jeremiah Peoples. He’s a senior developer advocate at Slack. 

Now, the developer and evangelist and advocate functions have been growing across tech companies for a number of years.

But in the past, those roles were primarily focused on these people building on owned company platforms. So it’s, “I’m from the brand. And I’m going to tell you about the brand or the product.”

What we’re seeing now is these people are actually starting to build their own personal brands and followings.

And so from a B2B perspective—if you looked at Jeremiah from a LinkedIn perspective—he’s only got 2000 followers.

“He’s the wrong guy, he’s not big enough. What are we supposed to do with him?”

Turns out, he’s actually building a huge following on YouTube, a strong following on TikTok, and the numbers that you can’t see publicly. He’s got a huge Discord community and Slack community that he runs.

And so for us, as we’re trying to build that credibility with developers and technical subject matter experts, Jeremiah is actually the perfect person for us to work with, both from a Slack perspective—where he’s employed—and from an Atlassian perspective, where we partner with him. 

Devin Bramhall: 

And this really speaks to sort of the value of an enthusiast, right? The person who is already trying to build community around them, which speaks to this other myth and truth, which is that you need to have some sort of fancy title and formal credentials to have influence.

And that’s obviously not true, right?

To grow your brand, you actually need to utilize multiple people across roles and seniority levels. 

And this was something that I really embraced when I was director of content at Help Scout. 

We made a customer service software. And I worked with people across the entire company to shine a light on our product and company values and the product itself, and then build community with support individuals through education.

So, Matt Patterson, he is a really well-known person in the customer support community. He was on my marketing team.

Leia, she does people ops. She headed up recruiting. I incorporated her and some of the things that she did internally at the company in a ton of content that we published, which not only helped me with my goal, which—this is going to sound ancient—but was traffic back then.  Way back in 2018. But also served her recruiting goals.

And we featured the co-founders, the designers, the developers.

And what that did was, not only excite the entire team and grow credibility from the brand from multiple different angles, but I actually had more resources than I was actually technically allocated by spreading this around.

And I—obviously—crushed my goals every quarter.

Published 02/21/24

B2B Forum is packed with marketing insights, strategies, and tactics taken from the real world experience of over forty industry experts, packaged into context you can actually put to use.

Join us in Boston for B2B Forum 2024 this coming November 12-14, 2024. Early buyers get B2B Forum tickets at their lowest rate, and discounted hotel rooms are available while they last.


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