During our nine year tenure, we’ve worked with a hugely diverse range of brands, from globally recognised conglomerates, to smaller challenger brands; from consumer-facing to B2B.n. One of the most common questions we still get though is whether influencer marketing is right for B2B brands.
B2B brand marketers tend to worry that influencer marketing, especially across platforms like TikTok and Instagram, won’t be relevant. Well, we’re here to unpack the B2B influencer space, how it works, and the common mistakes brands make within their influencer strategies.
How does influencer marketing work for B2B brands?
B2B, or business to business, is a strategic approach for businesses to promote their product or services to other businesses. With B2B influencer marketing, brands use collaborative partnerships with influencers who often have expertise within a specific industry. These partnerships enable businesses to harness an influencer’s credibility to reach new audiences.
Though influencer marketing is typically centered around B2C (business to consumer) environments, it can play a crucial role in B2B social media strategies.
B2C vs B2B influencer marketing
In the B2C world, consumers tend to rely on two main factors: empathy and detail. Whereas in the B2B world, buyer’s decisions are often based on experiences with industry influencers in their personal lives. They’re looking for the same level of convenience and connection in their professional lives.
For a B2B influencer marketing campaign to be successful, those in the driver seat must adopt a similar approach to B2C marketers, but it’s essential to find innovative ways to target those with deep industry knowledge; the kind of individuals that can influence corporate buyers and seamlessly tap into key business-to-business conversations.
In summary, influencer marketing, for both B2C and B2B brands, shares the common goal of partnering with influential figures to generate business growth. Brands in both markets seek out industry experts that have a significant influence on an audience, within a particular niche. Where there is a slight difference, B2C brands don’t depend on influencer expertise quite as much as B2B brands. B2B influencers need to carry weight within their field to win over B2B audiences, who typically consist of senior executives, and key decision makers within corporate companies.
3 B2B influencer marketing campaign examples
Yes, that’s right. The project management software that keeps your professional life in order is a shining example of how to create a B2B influencer marketing strategy.
The brand partnered with career and lifestyle oriented entrepreneur, Janell Roberts on TikTok. In the collaboration, Roberts demonstrates the appeal of Monday.com, and how the platform enables budding entrepreneurs to get more out of the workday. Her content explored a day-in-the-life of a young CEO, and how Monday.com helped check off every item of her to-do list.
B2B influencer campaigns can be product facing if the right approach is taken. For example, Monday.com focused on showing how its service creates value in the life of the influencer, rather than “here’s our product, this is why you should buy it”.
We’re bringing out all the work-based software now. Hubspot, the platform you use to keep track of inbound marketing, sales, and customer relations, is also adept in the B2B influencer marketing space.
Recognising that most of the corporate world take to TikTok to share stories from the office Christmas party, and their latest performance review, Hubspot frequently leverages influencer collaborations on the platform to reach professional audiences.
In the summer of 2023, Hubspot partnered with TikTokers to promote the launch of its AI tools that help businesses streamline their processes. Among the partnerships was Sarai Marie, a popular creator with content centered around her worklife, portrayed through comedic characters that we can ALL relate to.
A study on B2B buyer influencers found that YouTube informed 65% of recent B2B purchase decisions, making the platform the most popular for research.
Shopify looked to capitalize on that consumer behavior, in a recent collaboration with popular productivity YouTuber and entrepreneur, Ali Abdaal.
In this dedicated YouTube ad, Abdaal highlights Shopify as the sponsor of the video before covering the platform’s benefits, and how they cater to the needs of businesses of all sizes.
With B2B influencer marketing, the content should clearly identify brand partnerships for good reasons. One, it ensures the campaign is in alignment with the FTC guidelines. And two, it helps to reinforce a positive connection with the brand.
What do brands get wrong with B2B influencer marketing?
We often receive queries from brands saying they’re B2B, and they’re not sure whether influencer is the right channel for them. Perhaps the best way to answer these queries would be to look at what brands get wrong when it comes to B2B influencer strategies.
Size doesn’t always matter in the B2B world
The popularity of influencer marketing often leads brands to believe that every influencer is an avenue in which they can reach their businesses objectives. In reality, in B2B, the most influential people don’t always dictate the benefits that their follower counts lead you to believe.
Those that are influential in the B2B space focus on doing the work they’re known for. They’re a thought leader within their niche much like micro creators in the B2C world. The lesson is that social network size doesn’t always translate to action in B2B. Having a real impact in the B2B industry is based on real expertise, respect, and validation from communities, publications and professional organizations.
Having a million followers in B2B is quite unique, and that person could be a great match, but don’t stake everything on size alone when looking to partner with them. Do the homework, are they topically relevant to your brand and campaign? Validate that their audience is the audience your B2B brand wants to reach. And, don’t get caught up in the hype.
B2B influencers aren’t driven by the same factors as B2C
B2C influencer marketers often make the mistake of viewing strategies with the same lens of B2C. The issue is that B2C influencer engagements are about paying an influencer to create content that is hosted on their own channels.
With B2B, influencers, experts, and thought leaders do not tend to monetise their influencers in the same way. Their motivation to work with a brand might stem from an interest in growing their credibility and authority on a certain topic.
B2B brands should make an effort to understand what motivates the influencer. Sure, you might partner with a creator who does have a similar drive to that of a B2C influencer, that’s great! But if not, you should focus on creating a more meaningful experience that can help them achieve their goals.
B2B brands should think quality over quantity
In B2B influencer marketing, focusing solely on an influencer’s reach overlooks critical factors for success. High follower counts don’t guarantee engagement or relevance to a B2B audience. Instead, focusing on an influencer’s relevance to the industry, their engagement rates, and audience alignment is crucial. A smaller, highly engaged audience within a specific B2B niche often delivers better results than a broad but disengaged following.
Metrics like comments, shares, and conversions matter more than sheer numbers, as they indicate genuine audience interaction and potential for leads or sales. Cost-effectiveness is also a consideration; investing in influencers solely for their reach might not efficiently translate into meaningful B2B engagement or conversions. Brands should look to a more nuanced approach, that considers audience quality over quantity.
Is influencer marketing right for B2B brands?
Success lies not in mirroring B2C strategies but in understanding its nuanced landscape. B2B influencer collaborations thrive on industry expertise and thought leadership, tapping into niche audiences rather than relying solely on reach.
Looking at what Monday.com, Hubspot, and Shopify have explored. Their strategies underscore the power of tailored B2B influencer campaigns that prioritize showcasing value over product pitches.
Where B2B brands often miss the mark in influencer marketing is by fixating on an influencer’s popularity or trying to replicate B2C influencer dynamics. Understanding that size isn’t everything, comprehending the influencer’s motivations, and prioritizing audience resonance over reach are pivotal for impactful B2B influencer collaborations. In essence, B2B influencer marketing thrives on authenticity, relevance, and engagement rather than mere numbers.
Whether a B2B influencer campaign is right for your brand or not, depends entirely on your goals and business objectives. That’s where we can help!
If you want to learn more about B2B influencer marketing, check out our services for a more in depth look at how we can elevate your brand!