Last year, C8’s founder Paula Elliott wrote a blog titled “The Rise of B2B Influencers”, discussing how “technology commentators, leaders, strategists, advisors and analysts” have built large audiences by using social media, podcasts, blogs and vlogs to guide decision makers in B2B markets.
Since then, this industry has only grown. LinkedIn, as the largest professional networking platform, has even launched creator mode, a feature aimed directly at professionals looking to enter the influencer sphere.
So, as B2B communications experts embrace this third prong of PR – alongside the traditional media of press and analysts – we should also pause to consider what this rapidly growing industry can teach us about our own communications. Until now, a good PR strategy has focused on driving conversations, but influencer marketing emphasises the value of a different approach: collaboration.
Think about it: when BlueVoyant conducts its Global Third-Party Risk Report, corporate press releases, blogs, and articles by spokespeople work to place the company at the forefront of a conversation about its key findings. However, once traditional PR has put this data out into the world and the buzz of news wears off, this research generates a second layer of value by becoming a citeable statistic for thought leaders discussing third-party risk.
Influencer marketing guarantees this second layer of value. As experts in their own space, with an acute awareness of industry trends and their own audience’s interests, influencers allow your client’s expertise to shine by generating content informed by it. They are perfectly placed to position your client as an essential resource to an already highly-engaged audience.
For this reason, there are three key aspects to look at when identifying the best influencers for a successful collaboration:
Seeking out influencers with a legitimate interest in your client’s work isn’t just good for building relationships; it creates honest, believable content.
B2B influencers, particularly the more technical ones found in the disruptive tech spaces, are highly-knowledgeable and deeply passionate, and many find their success by being as sincere in their interests as they can. This leads to an audience relationship so strong that many viewers, readers and listeners will feel like they know them personally.
If your collaboration fails to inspire your influencer on a personal level, or to align with the topics they regularly geek out about, it will appear dishonest and reflect badly on both the influencer and the brand.
Whether the common thread in a commentator’s content is a strictly defined field, like cloud computing, or a thematic undercurrent like “tech for good”, this consistency between their existing content and your client’s brand is often referred to as “synergy”.
As mentioned above, the USP of most good influencers is the relationship with and responsiveness of their audience. The immediate metrics and feedback available to influencers via social media and podcasting apps mean that, over time, they gain a deep understanding of exactly what their viewers, listeners, or readers want.
Look for an influencer who knows what works – for your brand but also for the engaged audience that they know you can appeal to. In the 2022 State of Influencer Marketing Report, 51% of respondents cited audience relationships as the most valuable factor when selecting influencers, closely followed by content production.
Influencer activity should never be limited to one campaign. PR is about forging long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships, and influencer activity is no different.
By looking for influencers based on compatibility with your agency and your client’s values, you are laying the foundation of a valuable partnership based on shared insights, interests, and personal engagement.
But remember, compatibility doesn’t mean same-ness. An influencer who shares your core values and interests, but who perhaps finds success with a different communication style, is actually a great investment for your client. A high-quality influencer will be able to shape your brand’s message, insights or expertise into the perfect format to engage their whole audience, including those that a traditional PR strategy might miss.
So, as you embark on your B2B influencer journey, remember to reflect on what these professional communicators can bring to your existing PR strategies.
Influencer relationships are wonderful for brands themselves, but by working closely with these professionals in the strategy and content-creations stages, you might find that you pick up some of their insights along the way.