While influencer marketing has been a dominant strategy for B2C brands, its B2B organizations that are realizing the value now.

In fact, influencers are just as — if not more important for B2B companies than B2C. 

And these B2B influencers have the greatest impact on your company’s marketing and overall brand reach. 

Plus, organizations can use this strategy and influencers to reach more of their customers, increase potential buyers, and even help recruit top talent. 

Below, you’ll learn more about B2B influencer marketing and just who these influencers are that your company should activate. 

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B2B Influencers
 

Influencer Marketing for B2B Companies

Traditional influencer marketing focuses on using experts, leaders, or those with influence to drive your brand’s message to a much larger market.

In the B2C space, this tends to be celebrities, athletes, or social influencers with tons of followers and reach.

You’ve seen the short videos or pictures with product placements before through your Instagram or Facebook feed. 

And it works well for many B2C brands.

67% of consumers surveyed say they are likely to purchase an item or service they see on their social feeds (B2C).

But the impact of influencers is stronger in B2B. 

Why?

Because generally, B2B products have a bigger purchase size and word of mouth is critical for brand awareness, driving marketing reach, and sales. 

Plus, there is more to lose when purchasing a B2B product and peer recommendations hold a lot of weight in the buying decisions. 

Peer-to-peer marketing is the leading driver behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions. (McKinsey

So what is different about B2B influencer marketing? Well the definition is similar to the standard influencer marketing that we defined above. 

But here is my take on it: 

B2B influencer marketing is about activating internal and industry experts to help share, recommend, and co-create content of value, that mutually benefits both sides and helps drive overall business goals.

Compared to B2C influencer marketing, what changes in B2B is who the influencers are (and should be) and the actual strategy behind it. 

 

Interesting B2B Influencer Statistics

Something I always enjoy including in our posts, is the actual data and stats behind the subject. 

There is quite a lot of influencer marketing statistics out there, but I wanted to highlight the ones that hold more value towards B2B. 

Take a look below at the impact B2B influencers can have on marketing, branding, and sales. 

As we move into this new decade, it’s clear that more B2B organizations need to get serious about their influencer marketing strategies. 

  • Leads developed through employee social marketing convert 7x more frequently than other leads. (Marketing Advisory Network)
  • A recommendation from a friend or family member makes 83% of Americans more likely to purchase that product or service. (Convince & Convert)
  • B2B influencer marketing content delivers 11x higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing (source).
  • 90% of business decision-makers initiate their purchasing process by researching opinions from industry experts and peers (source).
  • 76% of influencers value brands that give them creative freedom (source).
  • Earned media (press, word-of-mouth, peer-to-peer referrals) drives 4x the brand lift as paid media. (Bazaar Voice)

And with all that good data from over the years, there is one stat that really stood out to me still.

Only 15% of B2B brands are running ongoing influencer marketing programs (source).

Wow.

There is a huge opportunity for brands that is being missed. Hopefully you are starting to get serious about B2B influencer marketing.

If so, this next section will get into who your best influencers are and how to start leveraging them further. 

 

The Types of B2B Influencers Your Company Should Leverage

As I mentioned earlier, influencers in B2C tend to be celebrities, athletes, or social influencers with massive social reach. However, this generally does not work for B2B companies.

I mean, I guess I could see Shaq representing HubSpot’s Marketing Automation platform. But unless you are a well-known brand, you probably want to avoid the celebrity endorsements. 

Instead, there are a few types of B2B influencers that your organization should leverage. 

These are the groups of people that can have a major impact on your marketing and also don’t require millions of social follows to drive an impact.  

 

Customers

In the B2B space, your customers are incredibly valuable.

Besides the obvious revenue generating, customers can be your biggest proponents or if you aren’t careful — opponents. 

But as we move into this new decade, you’ve probably seen most B2B business talk about their “customer-centric” approach or some other buzzword.

But it’s a must for organizations that sell to other businesses. 

Customers leave reviews about their experiences as well as tell other colleagues at other companies about your product or services.

Also, if they jump to a new company, they may decide whether to work with your company or not there. 

If you are building a great working relationship with your customers, you can get them involved further. 

Interview them, do co-webinars, highlight the fantastic things they are doing, let them guest blog, encourage them to share your branded content, etc. 

When you give them the best experience overall as much as you can, customers will be some of the best B2B influencers on your behalf. 

 

C-Suite & Executives

That’s your CEO, CMO, COO, or VPs. 

While these job titles are still really close to your brand, audiences gravitate towards these business leaders to read industry news, company insights, or just general thoughts.

And your company leaders should also be interested and activated as B2B influencers. 

By having engaging executives, they are helping expand the reach of the brand, humanizing who helps lead the company, and giving people a glimpse into their world. 

These leaders should be actively sharing on social media, doing interviews on podcasts, getting involved in your company content initiatives, and being a voice for the brand. 

It might be tough with their busy schedules, but the more active they can be — the better results will come for the brand and marketing.

A great example is John Legere of T-Mobile, who will be stepping down from his role as CEO.

But, he has one of the most visible social media profiles of any CEO.

And besides creating engaging and news about himself and his company, employees are also hyped and encouraged to get more involved too.

Needless to say, with his great leadership and marketing presence, T-Mobile became a leader in the telecommunications space these last few years. 

 

Employees

Besides customers, your organization’s employees are the best B2B influencers for your brand. They are the most connected to their jobs and company, but also trusted more than executives. 

Additionally, employees have networks of people in-person and online that are not familiar with your brand.

By having them create, share, or talk about the company they work for, they are now acting as your best brand advocates. 

This process is called employee advocacy and there are software solutions (like EveryoneSocial) that help organize and harness the power of employee voice. 

98% of employees use at least one social media site for personal use, of which 50% are already posting about their company. (Weber Shandwick)

And there is plenty of employee advocacy statistics to back up the value this has. But here are a few snippets:

  • Earned media (press, word-of-mouth, peer-to-peer referrals) drives 4x the brand lift as paid media. (Bazaar Voice)
  • Brand messages reached 561% further when shared by employees vs the same messages shared via official brand social channels (MSLGroup)
  • Content shared by employees receives 8x more engagement than content shared by brand channels. (Social Media Today)
 

Related: Learn more about Dell’s social strategy in a sustainable, employee-driven social media and content sharing program. Over 10,000 employees activated as influencers. Download here.

 

Thought Leaders

Lastly, your organization should consider working with other industry thought leaders. 

While your company executives or employees can become a major thought leaders, it’s good to have additional industry leaders vouching for your brand and product. 

You probably have a few well-known thought leaders in mind already, think people like Seth Godin, Neil Patel, Simon Sinek, etc. These are people that people gravitate towards to gain expert knowledge, tips, and insights on the  latest trends. 

While those names might be way out of your reach to activate as an influencer for your company, there are others who have strong followings an expertise that relate to your industry.

You can generally find them on Twitter or LinkedIn.

The goal here is to collaborate and see if there is any mutual benefit to both sides. 

You can get potential thought leaders writing blog posts, involved in bigger content projects, webinars, or even have them just sharing about your brand on social media. 

 

Final Thoughts

While traditional marketing efforts are still necessary, B2B brands need to look towards including influencers to start humanizing their organization further. 

That means if you work for a B2B company, it’s the human insights and information that will help create purchasing influence and expand brand reach.

B2B influencers must be a major component to your marketing or your company can potentially get left behind as your competition beats you to it and dominates the market.  

 

Interested in activating employees, c-suite, influencers, and channel partners as influencers? See how an employee advocacy platform can simply this process. Request your demo of EveryoneSocial