What is Influencer Marketing?
Before beginning our journey, let’s define influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is a way for companies to reach out to their target market by partnering with industry leaders to organically promote company offerings. This new marketing method is upticking in application and arguably the year’s most popular form of marketing.
B2B companies are starting to ride this marketing wave, but are slow to adopt. Why? Because there are many misconceptions about influencer marketing. B2B influencer marketing may be right for your company, but before we talk about that, we want to debunk a few common myths.
Influencer Marketing Myths
- Influencer Marketing is only for B2C – Influencer marketing is no longer just for the makeup artists or fashion-savvy of the digital sphere. It is mostly used in the B2C realm, but make no mistake that influencer marketing has its grip on the B2B world. Think about your favorite B2B Podcast. From B2B Growth to Building a Storyboard, many B2B podcasts are sponsored by different brands. Why? Because the podcaster has a direct link to the brand’s target market and knows their wants and needs. This not only applies to podcasts, but also event marketing, articles, social media and several other marketing forums.
- Sell to Me – Some people believe that influencer marketing is no more than mainstream advertising. In some ways, big companies using influencer marketing may appear that way, however, influencer marketing is more innocuous than you may think. Take a look at some of the B2B publications you typically read. Notice any consistent guest writers or products that appear on the website? If the answer is yes, that means one of two things:
- The writer(s) of the publication or website are industry influencers and could have a contract or agreement (paid or unpaid) with a company to tout their products naturally within the publication.
- The guest writer is an industry influencer and has an agreement, paid or unpaid, to write with the publication in order to increase the reach of both the influencer’s company and the website or publication.
Whether you like it or not, influencer marketing is all around us, and has been hiding under your nose this whole time. And companies are turning to influencer marketing for that reason, specifically because it feels more natural than other forms of marketing. Consumers are starting to move away from trusting advertisements to making purchases based on peer review.
However, before you dive into the glamorous world of influencer marketing, you need to know your options. Below is a list of considerations that your marketing team should mull over before embarking down the yellow brick road of influencer marketing.
Pros and Cons of Influencer Marketing
Just like every marketing endeavour, influencer marketing comes with its own set of pros and cons. Weigh out your options by checking out this information.
- Time is Money – When time is money, you don’t want to waste it on an effort that isn’t effective or doesn’t apply to your target market. When (effectively) applying influencer marketing, consider the following:
- What is your budget? Are you a large company or a small-to-midsize business? Have a niche audience or is your product/service mainstream? The answers could determine the difference between choosing a microinfluencer or a renowned influencer with followers galore.
- How many employees do you have dedicated to your influencer marketing campaign? Will C-level executives be involved? If the answers are little-to-none, your company may want to steer away from working with influencers. Influencers desire direct contact and a hands-on approach to working with companies. Companies that do not exhibit these behaviors may give an influencer the impression that the company does not value the influencer as a partner.
- Show Me the Money – Many will tell you that it is hard to track the ROI of an influencer, especially through social media. However, it can be a lot easier than you think to track their marketing efforts. By using a simple social media management tool, like Oktopost combined with your company’s marketing automation platform, you can easily track a range of social media activity. If the influencer’s account is connected to the social platform, Oktopost can show the # of impressions, clicks,conversions and leads.
- Authenticity is Key – Does the influencer use your company’s product or service? Do you think that the influencer would be interested in your company’s offerings? If you are struggling to answer the question, that means one of two things.
- You have not done your research on the influencer your marketing team is interested in pursuing.
- Your marketing team is trying to force a relationship between the influencer and target market, which will ultimately end in disaster. Consumers understand when they are being marketed to more than ever. If consumers’ internal marketing alarms go off, they will retreat from your company’s digital platforms.
- Relationships Matter – Does your company intend to work with this influencer long-term or just for one campaign? If your company only wants to work with the influencer once, tread lightly. Your customers may have brand loyalty, but if misconduct occurs, make no mistake that influencers will not. Influencers will go to another company who respects them, even if that company is a direct competitor. For many influencers, partnering with companies constitutes their main stream of income. They are more likely to stay with a company that will work with them for years rather than getting paid for just one campaign.
- Know Your Audience – Although Generation X and Millennials eclipse the population, there are still many who may not enjoy the digital world. It is important to understand the digital usage rate and platforms your consumers are on. For example, if Baby Boomers are the main decision makers of your target market, many are more influenced by advertisements during the decision making process than younger generational cohorts. Using a mixture of influencer marketing along with traditional marketing may be more effective in swaying Baby Boomers.
- Lead the Way – If your company needs leads ASAP, an influencer marketing campaign should not be your first choice. Email marketing would be a more effective and trackable strategy as leads move through the buyer’s journey. Implementing an influencer campaign from start to finish could range from a few months to over a year before your marketing and sales teams truly understand the influencer’s impact on the company’s bottom line.
What Do You Choose?
Now that you’ve evaluated the information, what’s your decision? Obviously, we know it’s not that simple. However, really considering influencer marketing will make your life as a marketer, and your team’s budget, better off in the long-run. Now, go forth into your day with the wisdom of a versed marketer.