You read the phrase ‘influencer marketing’ and your mind immediately turns to Love Island contestants promoting teeth whitener and brand giveaways, and your eyes immediately roll to the back of your head – That’s not what we’re talking about, we’re talking about B2B Influencers, and how to activate them in a campaign, of course!

Influencer marketing has grown to a near $15 billion industry in 2021, with 80% of marketers backing it as incredibly effective.

Within both B2C and B2B sectors,  it could be the difference between you and your competitors. At OST we’ve got bags of experience implementing and managing B2B influencer campaigns across a variety of sectors. We’ve summarised everything we’ve learnt in 8 steps: 

1. Set objectives

What are you actually trying to achieve? Are you trying to promote a product, reach a specific audience, or build brand awareness? Before even thinking about who to work with or what platform, consider what you want to get out of it, and how it will align with your overall business objectives. 

We worked on an influencer campaign with a global health tech and wellness company to grow their brand awareness and reputation in Europe. This included working with influencers across the continent. A B2B Influencer campaign can be more difficult to track than traditional campaigns, so it’s important to set realistic KPIs. Our client wanted to increase their follower count, impressions and clicks throughout the campaign. We implemented tracking links and used platform analytics, however, it can be difficult to attribute follower growth to a specific B2B influencer campaign, so you may need to adjust your expectations. 

2. Influencer criteria

Now you’ve thought about what you want to achieve, it’s time to start thinking about the kind of ‘influencer’ you want to work with. It goes without saying that they need to be relevant to your specific market. The person you’re looking for may not even position themselves as an ‘influencer’, they’re just passionate about their topic and create great content. Set some criteria for an influencer to meet before you start making contact. 

What you could look for: 

– Resonate with your audience 

-Strong engagement rate

-Wide reach

-Influential 

-Authenticity 

It’s easy to be seduced by accounts with huge follower counts, but in our experience, creators with high engagement rates are much more successful than those with more followers than engagement. Think about what you want out of your campaign, what you want your influencers to create,

Be aware: you must check advertising standards rules before starting any gifting campaigns.

3. Identify Influencers 

There are a few different ways to go about finding influencers that are right for your brand and your objectives. You can use platforms such as Onalytica, software which will find suggested influencers to fit the specifics of your campaign. If your brand is already established, you may well have people in your DM’s asking if you want to collaborate. Content creators are on the rise, and they’re always looking for more opportunities to grow their profiles, so make sure you check your inbox. Your community managers or social media team will also be able to share their knowledge on who already engages with your content, or who they’ve noticed making waves in your sector online. 

Searching manually can work exceptionally well – if you find one content creator that matches your needs exactly, you can look at Instagram suggested accounts, their followers, who they’re following. Use hashtags to discover new creators, look at who is following your competitors, or get in touch and we’ll find the perfect influencers for you. 

One of the campaigns we worked on with our health tech and wellness client was a content creator programme. With a strong presence already in the US, the aim was to grow a solid content creator base across all of the different European social channels. To do this, we identified relevant accounts per market, sent them for approval from the client, and then briefed the individuals on the content we wanted them to create. This worked on a contract basis, so the content they created was then owned by the client. This programme was incredibly successful, we chose ‘influencers’ who had smaller followings, but created visually stunning content, were consistent posters and had already built their own online communities. 

What’s the difference between a content creator and an influencer?

Content creator: It does what it says on the tin, content creators make their own visual content, from product photography to 20-minute long videos. They are often in it because they love creating content and want to make a career out of it. They’re not in it for the followers or the likes, they’re taking advantage of social media to get their art out there. 

Influencer: To build community and relationships, these people can, well, influence purchasing decisions. They often have large followings and have a niche or specific interest, around which they create content. This content is often a lower standard than content creators, but can often come across as more authentic. 63% of people trust influencers more than brands, so what are you waiting for? 

4. Influencer outreach

Once you’ve identified who you want to work with, it’s time to approach them and get them on board. In an ideal world, you would:

  1. Identify your influencer
  2. Start to engage with them – like their content, comment etc for a few weeks
  3. Get in touch – always send a personalised message. You can have a template message ready, but do a bit of research and add a personal touch so they know it’s not a blanket message
  4. Move over to email
  5. Send brief/contract
  6. Receive signed contract
  7. Content creation begins
  8. Get content approved 
  9. Keep building the relationship

B2B Influencer marketing works best when it forms a long-lasting relationship. Just like when you work with suppliers or other clients, communication and relationships are essential. Make them feel valued and they will want to work with you again and again. 

5. Agree on objectives and collaboration terms 

When it comes to b2b, brands and influencers can often share similar objectives for creating content, which can drive a much more authentic content campaign. We recently worked on a B2B influencer campaign for a global provider of cow nutrition and fertility products, in which we approached influencers to create a blog post about cow fertility. They used their own expertise and knowledge to provide valuable content, because they have a genuine interest in the topic, and were excited to collaborate with the brand.  

Once you’ve identified your influencers, you need to give them a brief or have a conversation around your B2B Influencer campaign objectives, and of course how you’re going to pay them or what you’re going to gift them. How long will the campaign run for? Give them any tracking links, agree on messaging, and make sure you’re both aligned to the outcome. 

Check out our webinar: How to work with B2B influencers to get a handle on all of the legislation involved. 

6. Let the influencer/creator create

Now it’s time to hand it over to the influencer. We usually provide briefs to influencers, but we also like to trust them to create the content off their own backs and give them creative control. These people know what they’re talking about – so trust them! You may need to include an approvals process in your contract, especially if the content needs to be signed off by senior members of your team. 

7. Run the campaign together

It’s important to make the influencer feel supported and let them know you’re there if they need a hand or are unsure how to reply to comments or messages. Depending on the content, you may be running a competition cross-channel so your community or social team needs to be briefed on the campaign. Make sure you engage with their content as much as possible, you don’t want your audience to feel like you’ve just thrown money at an influencer to do your job for you. One of the main benefits of incorporating influencer marketing into your strategy is essentially borrowing the trust of the community. 

8. Continue building relationships 

Once your campaign has finished, it’s important to keep the relationship going. Regardless of the success of the campaign, keep engaging with their content and maintain communication. They post their lives on social media, so make sure you keep up to date with them and maintain a good personal relationship. 

Need some help building your next, or even your first B2B influencer campaign? There are so many untapped opportunities, even if you’re a B2B company in a niche sector. Influencers are everywhere, and we’re ready to help you find them.

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