Why You Need Social Influencers

Jeff Epstein

Social media influencers may be this year’s biggest marketing disruptors. B2C companies that harness this trend of reaching ad-skeptical consumers are beefing up their coffers big time, so why are some B2B companies not following suit?

The answer isn’t complicated —  B2B entities wrongly think they’re selling to just corporations. News flash: Every organization is made up of people, people who put a lot of trust in social media.

In fact, a Social Media Examiner study reports that 19 percent of B2B marketers engage on Twitter, 30 percent favor Facebook, and a whopping 41 percent show LinkedIn love. In other words, the people you’re selling to at B2B locations buy on behalf of their companies, but if you aren’t where they hang out, you’re counting on luck or chance to bring you together.

Consumers — and businesses — crave content

Some B2B brands are already aboard the social influencer bandwagon and on their way to increased revenue and awareness. Volusion and SendGrid come to mind, which both surpassed e-commerce and financial industry counterparts with notable viral social campaigns.

What has allowed social media influence to help these brands generate B2B sales? Educational, informative content that consumers can use to make the best choices, whether for themselves or their employer. Social platforms — especially LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube for B2B marketers —  are ripe engagement hubs that help marketers go beyond traditional tactics and move onto a road less traveled.

Ironically, businesses don’t have to reinvent the wheel if they’re interested in social. After cord cutters and on-demand media options devalued TV ads, B2C companies set the standard for social innovation in marketing and advertising. And that doesn’t even touch upon the horrible click-through rates of banner ads, which a PageFair study predicts is probably enhanced by the 30 percent upsurge in ad blockers.

B2Cs are far from dead. If anything, they’ve adapted, and B2Bs need to do likewise or risk losing interest from modern consumers.

Get where you need to go

It takes more than pushing posts, tweets, videos and images into the stratosphere to build B2B social marketing success. Any marketer making the leap needs to ask a few questions before creating a content calendar or hitting “publish.”

1.   Do the audience and message align? Social influencers earn that moniker for a reason. The credibility they’ve built within certain audiences meaning when they talk, tweet, or post, people listen. Make sure you’re bringing in influencers who can relay your brand’s intended message to the right people in their immediate and extended social networks.

You need to think like Thulium.co, a company that constructs its B2B engagements carefully within the technology space. Thulium.co builds social influencer marketing programs based upon its core objectives as well as what others want to know. In other words, the company focuses on value because it believes, correctly, that relationships develop over time and through carefully targeted content that its audience will find valuable.

2.   Do you offer an incentive that “moves the needle?” According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, B2B companies spend twice as much on incentives as their B2C counterparts. Your social influencers expect incentives, especially in the B2B marketplace, but business sales cycles can be quite lengthy. Leave your social influencers with some sort of motivation to remain engaged with your campaign, even if it takes a month or two to pan out.

Microsoft’s partnership with National Geographic on Instagram for International Women’s Day shows how both business and social influencer can get immediate rewards. National Geographic’s five Instagram channels featured hashtag-worthy images to inspire women to pursue innovative careers in science. The results? Thousands of Instagram uploads, no fewer than 3.5 million total “likes,” and a social reach of 91 million users across National Geographic’s social platforms. Best of all, both partners got instant exposure for their creative relationship.

3. Does your message sound correctly crafted? LinkedIn saw the bevy of B2B influencers it had on its hands and used them to create its 48-page “Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn.” The social media giant realized that relying on its top influencers to share their best insights would not only be useful to them as co-authors, but it would also appeal to their numerous followers. It was a smart move because everyone won.

When you understand what you want to say and how your audiences need to hear it, you’ve hit upon the special sauce that adds an extra kick to any B2B social marketing campaign. Have influencers who can pull together a narrative that humanizes your words and business.

As with all unorthodox marketing processes, B2B social influencer campaigns require a bit of trial and error. You may find you’ve got it right the first time, or you may have to go back to the drawing board a few times. Regardless, now is the time to get ahead of the pack and earn your seat at the head of the social influencer marketing table.  

Jeff Epstein is the CEO and founder of Ambassador, a referral software company that empowers brands to increase customers, referrals and revenue by leveraging and scaling the power of word of mouth.