In recent months, influencer marketing has occupied us more than any other marketing topic. Quite a few companies have implemented their first campaigns, while many others have at least integrated influencer marketing into their budget plans. What is striking is that consumer brands in particular have already booked campaigns − from evening wear to toothpaste, all the products we know from other advertising channels can also be found here. From the trendy print magazine or from prime time TV, advertising is migrating to the digital world of consumers: to the smartphone and social networks. And in the hope that advertising will then be perceived less as advertising, more influencers are being bought than advertisements booked. Whether the effect can ultimately justify the change of advertising channel is still not being critically questioned often enough or in sufficient depth.
Why should influencer marketing be interesting for B2B companies?
Theory and practice are often miles apart. This can also be observed when working with influencers. In theory, it’s about companies using the reach and trust of influential people for their own benefit. The factors of influence and trust are based on outstanding knowledge that a person has acquired. This is the only way to achieve a thematically relevant reach over time. In other words, anyone who is particularly interested in a topic follows people who are particularly familiar with it. If these experts share their opinions and assessments with their networks, they can influence other opinions and even purchasing decisions.
In practice, however, the picture is different with the influencer marketing hype: Here, the focus is usually on the people themselves and not on their knowledge of a specific topic. This may even work for the B2C sector, but such reach influencers are of little help to B2B companies. B2B marketing, however, is usually not about complex campaigns that are intended to achieve the greatest possible reach. Very specific information that is transported directly to the target groups to help them make decisions is much more useful. And this is exactly where the influencers who have acquired expert status in the relevant target group based on their shared knowledge come into play.
B2B influencer marketing needs different standards
So how do you find these experts and on which platforms do they actually operate? This cannot really be answered across the board and depends to a large extent on the industry. However, one thing is clear: They cannot be traced via the known influencer databases, because they mainly use key figures such as reach and interactions. In B2B, on the other hand, we have to immerse ourselves directly in the target group in order to identify the people there who have a decisive influence on the discussions. This happens more on Twitter, LinkedIn or Xing than on Instagram and YouTube. For those responsible for marketing in B2B, however, this also means that they have to get involved themselves. This makes a quick success very unlikely, but can certainly pay off in the long run.
B2B influencers not only differ from B2C influencers in terms of range and channels, but often also in their basic attitude. They hardly ever call themselves influencers and would not declare or aspire to this as a profession. They strive for more knowledge rather than more reach. They want to make valuable contacts and not land valuable campaigns. They share their knowledge, not their faces and reach.
It is precisely this attitude that makes them so interesting for B2B companies. At the same time, these marketing managers themselves must adopt a certain attitude if they want to benefit from the specific effect of the B2B influencers. Companies must also learn to network, share knowledge and enrich discussions with useful contributions. Marketing is at best allowed to nest in the back of the mind, but from there it should observe and under no circumstances control. Those who are only looking for advertising on their own behalf will hardly find success with it. Because it’s about building relationships with industry experts. Influencer marketing thus becomes influencer relations.
Conclusion: Influencers are also relevant in B2B!
Recommendations also play an important role in the B2B sector. Those requiring enterprise software for their company, for example, can either rely on the promises of the providers or follow independent experts who have in-depth knowledge of these applications. Companies that recognize this, actively network with the experts, inform them at eye-level and strengthen their knowledge in a targeted manner ultimately have an advantage over competitors who do not take advantage of this opportunity.