How your B2B brand can master influencer marketing

by | Aug 17, 2017 | Analysis, Public Relations

It’s the million-dollar question for every brand and for every marketer: where are dollars best spent to achieve the greatest ROI? With new channels and tactics consistently emerging, more options are making the decision harder than ever.

Take the luxury goods industry for example—while it has traditionally spent two dollars on print ads for every dollar on digital, that is quickly changing. Brands like Gucci and Louis Vuitton spent 63 percent more online in 2016 than in 2013. As part of this strategy, luxury brands are cutting traditional ad spend and allocating dollars to influencer marketing on social media. And they’re not the only ones.

In fact, there are 90 times more Google searches for “influencer marketing” today than there were in 2013. And it’s trendy for a reason—influencer marketing yields $6.85 in earned media for every $1 in paid media, according to a 2015 study by Burst. When combined with credibility, the social reach of influencer marketing can deliver big results for brands.

And let’s face it—as marketers, we go where our audiences go. Remember when brands started piling into Second Life? That didn’t pan out, but every year at the Consumer Electronics Show I see more brands experimenting with modern forms of VR to attract customers to experience their products firsthand.

Influencer marketing is a more obvious tactic for luxury, lifestyle and travel brands where visibility and allure are key, but it’s also becoming a go-to strategy for savvy B2B marketers looking to complement their public relations programs. B2B brands might not always be as flashy as a Gucci or Louis Vuitton, but they have many opportunities to engage with leaders in their industries that can amplify their PR efforts.

So, how can your B2B brand get started with a solid influencer marketing strategy? Here are few tips from Walker Sands’ recent whitepaper, Under the Influence: A B2B Brand Guide to Influencer Marketing:

Identify the right influencers

Many B2B brands already know that when it comes to marketing and PR, it’s all about the longtail. A splashy placement in a big outlet might be less effective than a trade pub spot for a brand trying to reach CMOs, for example. The same is true for influencer marketing. While reach is certainly a factor, it’s better to narrow in and truly understand who the leaders in your specific field are, rather than spending money on big names that might only loosely connect to your message and your brand.

Read what potential influencers are saying—on LinkedIn, Twitter or in other media. Are their content and audience relevant to your business? Does their tone align with your own?

Remember it’s a two-way street

Reputable influencers won’t publish whatever you want—even if you’re paying them for it. Consider how to get them excited about your brand. Influencers are protective of their audience and won’t risk turning them off with promotional posts that are inconsistent with their personal brand.

Make sure you’re providing influencers with useful information. Round up thoughtful content from your business’s thought leaders, or develop interesting and timely research. These resources will help facilitate positive, effective relationships with the influencers that matter.

Measure success in terms that work for you

Influencer marketing campaigns need to be measurable. But success looks different for every brand. Determine what factors to assess before launching your project, and don’t attempt to back into success metrics after the fact.

For short-term campaigns, success might be measured in social media mentions, pieces of influencer-generated content, total engagement, or conversions attributable to influencer content. Ongoing programs with a longer time horizon may look slightly different. Whatever you choose, make sure you can tie your metrics to achievable business goals.

Influencer marketing is a new realm for many B2B brands, but it’s becoming a critical part of the marketing mix. While influencer marketing cannot replace a strong public relations program, it elevates your brand and strengthens credibility. For that reason, a strong influencer relations program is a must for emerging B2B businesses looking to rise above the rest.

Andrew Cross
Andrew Cross is Vice President of Public Relations at Walker Sands Communications. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.