Influencer relations is nothing new, in fact I don’t think I’ve seen a B2C campaign that omits influencer investment of some sort for the past two years. It’s best practice, forms a key prong within the PESO model and can offer a range of benefits, whether your objectives are awareness raising or transactions.
So then, why are B2B brands more hesitant when it comes to embracing the influencer? And, should more be done by PRs and marketers to promote their use when planning B2B campaign activity? The answer is short and simple: Yes, yes we should.
Influencer relations should not be limited to consumer campaigns. In fact, embracing the use of an influencer can be more impactful when it comes to corporate communications. Why? Because you have a captive audience that you can tap into. Plain and simple. Just like you prioritise the trade media, corporate influencers should be respected and prioritised as part of your campaign activity.
So, where to start. Well, much like the consumer influencer, the corporate or trade influencer is an eclectic range of experts, thought leaders and corporates owning their space. As such, you have to be strategic when considering how to work with them as part of a mutually beneficial agreement.
Here are some steps I’d recommend following.
- Start at the beginning – what are you trying to achieve? As part of any strategic marketing activity, what you chose to do, has to be guided by what you want to achieve. Your tactics have to help you to meet your objectives. So, first and foremost, you need to consider what exactly it is you want to do as part of your campaign activity – this will inevitably affect your choice of influencer. For example, if you need to build influence as part of an upcoming conference – you need to be sure your influencer is in attendance. Or if your main objective is to drive web traffic, you need to be sure your influencer has visibility across relevant digital channels.
- Consider your audience and consider their audience. Secondly you have to consider your audience, and their audience. Are you looking to raise awareness within a new area? If so does this influencer provide you with access to said new audience? Or is it about strengthening visibility amongst your existing audience? If so, does the influencer your looking to work with resonate amongst your existing customers? You have two considerations here, who do you want to reach, and will this influencer help facilitate this for you?
- In what capacity should you work with a corporate influencer? The great thing about influencer relations is that it is often far more flexible than traditional advertising packages or similar – plus it can be far more engaging and cost effective. But that’s only if you strike a bespoke partnership with your influencer that meets your needs. Whether it’s hosting a Twitter conference or teaming up with an industry body to conduct research, you have to ensure that you utilise their platforms in conjunction with your own. Think about the opportunities open to you and don’t be shy when it comes to exploring new areas. Do they have a blog – can you guest post? Do they have social channels – how can you feature? Are they speaking at an event – how can you provide research as a key discussion point as part of their presentation? Don’t be confined by age old advertising templates – working with influencers is about building a dialogue with an audience via an expert. Make that expert partnership work hard for you. But, importantly. Don’t forget this relationship has to be mutually beneficial.
- Be prepared to invest. These days data and influence means money. In other words, you can’t expect to access an audience free of charge. It’s how many people make a living and influence is now an equity that individuals trade with brands. If you want to engage with someone’s audience, you have to be prepared to invest on some level. You also have to respect your influencer’s judgement when it comes to knowing their audience. Anything overly salesy that doesn’t add value to your influencer’s audience is likely to be discounted. Think about how your business solves a problem or an issue for your influencer’s audience and use this as the theme of your partnership.
- Make it measurable. Measuring marketing and PR activity can be tricky, but with online content now leading the way, tools such as Google Analytics and trackable links should be used to ensure traffic driven as a result of your influencer relations is completely measurable. This is a really important consideration if you’re trying influencer relations for the first time. You want to know that your investment has paid off. So have the conversation upfront – often you’ll find that influencers will help to provide guidance in this area – because, let’s face it, if they can demonstrate a strong ROI as part of their partnership with you, they’re more likely to get referred for other opportunities.
Still not convinced? Maybe some of these articles will change your mind: