According to the World Federation of Advertisers, 65% of multinational brands will increase their influencer marketing spending in the next 12 months. Mediakix reports that influencer ad spending alone will increase from $5 billion to $10 billion in the next 5 years.
Clearly, more companies are moving into the world of influencer marketing. Recent research from Traackr and Brian Solis from Altimeter group offers evidence of this momentum with the number of companies moving from experimenting to implementing tactical influencer marketing programs increasing from 28% to 47%.
While there’s a lot of inertia towards influencer marketing, it’s still early days for many companies, especially in B2B industries. Fortunately, B2B influencer content is a speciality area for us and if you’re thinking about starting or evolving your business influencer engagement and content program, here are a few things to consider:
1. Anticipate the challenges with influencers, influencer marketing agencies and brand efforts:
Marketing agencies come in many flavors from those who are specialized to full service to advertising focused to content focused. I think one thread of challenge that runs through all of them is finding the right talent to meet the needs of modern marketing – especially influencer marketing.
With potential influencer marketing agency partners, you really have to consider: How long have they been implementing influencer marketing programs in your industry, what examples can they share (with performance data) and what kind of relevant industry influencer network relationships have they built?
For B2C brands, there are increasing challenges regarding influencer legitimacy and the authenticity of their networks. There is a lot of money to be made for self-anointed and opportunistic influencers which incentivizes them to buy fake followers.
Brands have challenges in compliance enforcement, especially as FTC guidelines get more specific and the influence of GDPR reaches across the pond to affect data privacy regulations in the US, brands have to figure out their processes, disclosure policies and governance.
B2B brands are running a little behind B2C in terms of influencer marketing sophistication and have not been investing as much in technology, staff or the influencers themselves. However that is starting to change and B2B brands are making great progress on engaging influencers for content across the entire customer journey to collaborating with more micro-influencers.
Top challenges for influencers include 工作职能邮件数据库ensuring their own disclosure and “clean” networks to earn and keep brand trust. Big name influencers are now competing against many niche influencers as brands seek to lower their costs and boost engagement levels. Those big names will need to work harder on being effective vs. just being famous.
2. What B2B and/or B2C brands get wrong about influencer marketing campaigns:
Brands who view influencers purely as an advertising distribution channel really miss the mark on the opportunity that influencer relationships can bring. Pay or play has it’s place in both B2C and B2B influencer engagements, but when brands limit their view to a transactional engagement model only, they’re often disappointed with the results.
There’s an expression I like to use: Pay an influencer and they’ll be your friend for the day. Help someone become more influential and they’ll be an advocate and friend for life. It’s important to pay for the right kind of engagement, but also focus on developing relationships with both up and coming as well as established influencers.
Short term thinking gets short term results. Tactically, brands that use a shotgun approach to invite influencers only when they need them won’t see very high recruitment rates. The same goes for non-personalized, ego-centric messages from brands that are only concerned with what the brand wants to get out of the collaboration.
3. Understand the best practices for success when managing relationships between brand and influencers:
Our focus at TopRank Marketing is B2B content and influencer marketing, so the approach and best practices are different than working with consumer focused influencers. Longer sales journeys, larger purchase decisions that are often made by committees vs. individuals make B2B a very different animal in the influencer marketing world. Also, in B2B there is less “pay to play” so the importance of values alignment with the brand and true relationships is very high.
B2B influencers tend to have more subject matter expertise than the media creation skills often found in B2C, so the approach to recruit them often has to be based on how their collaboration with the brand will create value for their mutual audiences.
Relationships are an investment. We’ve found that B2B influencers will be more invested in the brand when the brand invests more in an ongoing relationship with the influencer.