Ultimate Guide to B2B Influencer Marketing

April 1, 2024

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People aren’t always keen to follow brands online. But they love following other people.

If you’re here, you already know the right influencers can be powerful allies in reaching business-to-business (B2B) audiences. But will influencer marketing work for your specific brand?

With a well-planned approach, the answer is probably yes.

Whether you’re looking to add influencers to your existing marketing mix, or simply want to learn how to avoid the “all flash, no substance” creators, this guide will help you secure the right partnerships every time.

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What is B2B influencer marketing?

B2B influencer marketing is the practice of collaborating with well-known industry experts and thought leaders to drive brand awareness, engagement, and revenue. By partnering with influential experts within a specific industry, B2B companies can reach new audiences while deepening trust with existing ones.

Popular marketing channels like social media and search engine optimization (SEO) are great for empowering brands to speak directly to potential customers, but these channels are growing increasingly saturated. Without the backing of already-trusted names, it can be difficult to break through.

That’s where the right B2B influencers can make the difference.

Best platforms and formats for B2B influencer marketing

We know what you’re thinking: Apart from the obvious choice of LinkedIn, what platforms actually make sense for B2B influencer marketing?

Unfortunately, the answer is one of those annoying ‘how long is a piece of string?’ type of things.

For some business brands, traditionally “B2C” channels like Instagram and TikTok might actually be where they want to focus their influencer marketing. For others, it might make more sense to embed influencers into their existing email marketing, content strategies, and other campaigns.

To narrow it down, try thinking not only about your target channels, but also your desired formats.

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Beyond your usual social platforms, events are another highly effective way to leverage B2B influencer marketing. The reason is simple: people love to hear big, trusted names speak at industry events.

By allowing your audience to engage with influencers in a controlled environment like a digital event, you can create an unforgettable moment in the minds of your audience members.

And because webinars and digital events give you the option to repurpose your recorded video presentations, you can get even more bang for your influencer buck by scaling that content across your other channels.

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Why it works: benefits of B2B influencer marketing

Have you noticed the increase in sponsored LinkedIn posts from personal users? You’re not alone.

Many experts predict that 2024 will be the year of influencer marketing in B2B. And they’ve got some pretty compelling reasons to back them up.

Here are just some of the ways partnering with the right influencer can benefit your brand:

  • Expand your reach
  • Amplify industry credibility
  • Build early trust with new audiences
  • Improve program engagement
  • Grow trust through authentic content

No matter which niche or industry you’re in, working with established tastemakers lets you tap into the trust those influencers have already built with their audience—but of course, you’ve got to make sure it’s the right audience in the first place.

And there are plenty of red flags to watch out for. Let’s get into it.

Why it’s risky: challenges of B2B influencer marketing

Working with influencers can be a big investment ($500-$5,000 per post by some estimates). Which means there’s a whole lot to lose if you get it wrong.

According to the same TopRank Marketing report, B2B marketers named the following top three challenges when working with influencers:

  • Identifying, qualifying and engaging with ideal influencers (53%)
  • Measuring and reporting results (46%)
  • Collaborating with influencers and creating content (40%)

That’s without even touching the challenge of proving the ROI on your influencer strategy.

And with some surveys showing that up to 90% of consumers no longer trust influencers, influencer fatigue is a very real risk as more brands get in the game.

To execute campaigns that deliver the results you need, focus on building a slow, smart, and ROI-friendly process.

  • Identifying, qualifying and engaging with ideal influencers (53%)
  • Measuring and reporting results (46%)
  • Collaborating with influencers and creating content (40%)

Source: TopRank Marketing

5 ways to leverage B2B influencer marketing

Research by Invesp found that, despite the fact that 94% of B2B marketers believe influencer marketing is a successful strategy, only 24% include it in their business plan.

Clearly, there’s still a long way to go before marketers feel confident clearing the hurdles with B2B influencer marketing.

But even for established brands, B2B influencers are one of the few organic ways to connect with audiences that still don’t know about your product. And they’ve already got that all-important element of trust baked in.

The right B2B influencer strategy can help.

1. Start with clear objectives

As the old adage goes: you can’t measure what you can’t see.

Just as you would for any other campaign, it’s critical to set a crystal clear objective before you start recruiting influencers.

Here are just a few of the common objectives you might choose for your influencer marketing campaign:

  • Brand awareness
  • Increased traffic
  • Lead generation
  • Pipeline impact
  • Conversions

Once you’ve got your broad objectives, break that down into the specific key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll track during and after the campaign. This could include anything from traffic increases to average engagement rates and even revenue impact.

With a clear view of your campaign’s north star, you’re ready to start brainstorming topics you know your audience will relate to.

2. Identify relevant influencers

Based on your goals, you may have any number of great topic ideas to fuel your influencer campaign. The hard part is finding individuals with the right kind of influence on those topics.

When coming up with your list of potential influencers, think beyond single posts and campaigns.

Consider questions like:

  • How does this influencer’s goals align with ours?
  • Where do our messages overlap?
  • Where do they differ?
  • Does this influencer align with our brand values?
  • Does their audience match our own?

You want partners who have expertise, credibility, and above all—influence.

Always take the time to go beyond follower count and take a good look at their engagement. How good are they at driving the types of conversations you’re looking to have?

⚡Pro tip: Danielle Glenn, Global Webinar Program Manager at Software AG is a big fan of ChatGPT. She asks it for a list of names when researching potential influencers and event speakers to kickstart her research.

3. Build relationships

Alright, you’ve found your ideal influencer. Don’t break out the champagne just yet. Pitching a busy industry changemaker is quite a daunting task. There’s an art and science to standing out amid the hundreds of other requests in their inbox.

The good news is, you don’t have to fly 30 creators to Bora Bora in a private jet just to secure the right partnerships. (In fact, we’d advise against it.)

Today’s buyers want authenticity first and foremost. That’s just as true for B2B consumers as it is for B2C. So, why not take the same approach when building your B2B influencer relationships?

Here are some tips to help you keep it organic:

  • Start by actually consuming the influencer’s content
  • Engage thoughtfully on the pieces that resonate with your brand
  • Send a thoughtful email or DM inviting the influencer for a casual virtual coffee date

By showing genuine interest in their work and taking your time to initiate organic conversations, you’ll be taking early steps to build the kind of trust that leads to a successful influencer partnership.

4. Develop a clear collaboration strategy

If you’ve been intentional with your influencer outreach, this part will be a breeze.

The key is not to overthink it. For most campaigns, the sweet spot lies somewhere between your brand objectives and their style of content creation.

Work together to co-create content ideas, determine the best formats and distribution channels, and establish clear guidelines for messaging and brand integration.

Here are a few elements to include in your influencer brief or strategy:

  • Goals, objectives and expectations
  • Content types and formats
  • Campaign structure and timeline
  • Promotion and distribution channels
  • Style and messaging
  • Audience profile

There’s a lot to juggle with every campaign. Resist the urge to micromanage.

Once you’ve given them your guidelines, give your influencers the freedom to do what they do best by getting out of their way and letting them get creative with your message.

⚡Pro tip: If you’re partnering with influencers as part of your broader event strategy, offer them complimentary tickets in exchange for promoting the event on their social channels. This is a great way to broaden your reach and attract new qualified attendees.

5. Monitor and measure performance

You knew this one was coming, right?

Without the benefit of a custom discount code, performance can be notoriously tough to measure on a B2B influencer campaign.

Consider tracking metrics like:

  • Reach
  • Engagement
  • Website traffic
  • Lead generation
  • Conversions

Not every influencer partnership requires a hard call to action (CTA). After all, the goal is to make sure your audience doesn’t feel sold to.

Be ready to communicate your attribution stories to illustrate the effectiveness of your campaigns. With the right insights into what’s working, you can increase the likelihood of securing buy-in for future programs.

3 brands with a B2B influencer marketing strategy that works

In 2024, you can’t deny the power of influencer marketing. But what exactly does successful B2B influencer marketing look like?

Here are some examples to help get the wheels turning.

1. Cisco Champion Radio

Cisco’s Champions campaign features top experts from the IT industry on their weekly Champion Radio podcast created “by technologists for technologists”.

Formats include both audio and video, featuring known experts or "champions" in the tech space for in-depth conversations around trending topics like hybrid work, the rise of 5G, and how to stop the spread of bias in technology.

In exchange for their participation, Cisco’s influencers get the opportunity to showcase their passion for technology and receive perks like access to new products as part of an elite group of early testers.

2. Microsoft & National Geographic

What could be more awe-inspiring than the wild imagery of National Geographic? How about a partnership with one of the world’s largest computing companies?

In an epic example of B2B influencer marketing done right, Microsoft collaborated with National Geographic to launch the ‘Make What’s Next’ campaign encouraging girls to pursue careers in STEM.

The campaign featured National Geographic explorer Jenny Adler, who took viewers to meet some of the thriving wildlife along Florida's Ichetucknee river while broadcasting live on Facebook.

3. Goldcast talks AI with Devin Reed

At Goldcast, we’re big believers in partnering with the right influencers to elevate not just your events, but your entire marketing program.

To mark the launch of our new AI-powered content repurposing platform, Content Lab, we partnered with Devin Reed, Head of Content at Clari and content marketing influencer, on a digital event masterclass session dedicated to showcasing the practical side of AI.

Power up your B2B events with influencer marketing

As the noise on other channels gets louder, events are proving to be a fundamental element of leading B2B influencer marketing strategies.

And there’s countless ways to get your influencers involved:

  • Invite influencers as speakers, high-profile attendees, and/or promoters
  • Use their audiences to maximize your reach before, during and after the event
  • Build brand trust to increase attendance for future events
  • Ramp up audience engagement with influencer contests, giveaways, and Q&As
  • Use your recorded content to fuel your long-term drip content

With the right event platform, you’ll have all the branding and audience engagement tools you need to make your event easy and enjoyable for influencer speakers, as well as attendees.

Look for a solution that includes:

  • AI-assisted content repurposing: With a little help from AI, tools like Content Lab make it easy for both the organizers and invited influencers to promote interesting or entertaining snippets from the event on multiple platforms via video, blog formats, and more.
  • Engagement tools: Offer audiences the chance to interact with influencers as part of your events. This could include interactive Q&A, live polls, breakout rooms, roundtables and more.
  • Easy-to-learn moderation features: Modern moderator tools should offer sufficient security for an influencer who is open to audience interaction, but concerned about appropriate boundaries. Make sure your platform makes it easy to screen questions before they’re made public.
  • Customizable branding: The right branding tools are critical for maintaining trust with your influencers’ audiences. Look for a platform that makes it easy to customize every element, right down to the Favicon. For example, Goldcast’s Page Builder can be customized to position your influencers front and center, then used to actively promote their involvement in your event.

All marketing strategies are only as good as their execution. With the right event platform and the right influencers, you can maximize your program’s ROI and provide value to your audience both during and long after the event.

Influence B2B buyers with an experience they’ll remember

As the modern mouthpiece for B2B brands, events are an important channel for influencer marketing. But they need to be expertly executed and measured.

With deep data analytics and seamless integrations with Salesforce, HubSpot, and more, Goldcast is the digital event platform that makes it easy to prove ROI. See the impact your events have on your revenue pipeline, both at the portfolio and individual events level, and use Content Lab to maximize the return on your influencer content.

Stand up to the challenges of keeping your audience engaged. Establish real influence with Goldcast.

[Request your Content Lab demo and start repurposing now. Or schedule a personalized demo to see Goldcast in action.]

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