There are different rules for Social Media in B2B than there are in B2C
Influencer marketing has long been there in the everyday lives of B2C advertisers. But how’s the situation in the B2B sector? Different rules apply here. Dr. Daniel Kostyra, Director Consulting, provides insights into how B2B companies should deal with the discipline in the B2B segment.
More and more influencer marketing came into relevance to marketers; it became integral part of the strategy of B2C companies.
In a study on the use of influencer marketing (conducted in November 2018 by the German Digital Economy Association (BVDW)), more than half of the companies surveyed stated that they were already using influencer marketing (59 %) to push their marketing success. A further 24 % are considering adding influencer marketing to their strategy mix. These results show that the young discipline has established and has outgrown its initial incubation - this can be said at least for B2C.
The situation in B2B, on the other hand looks different.
Why should a B2B company rely on influencers? What are the advantages and what measures can be implemented?
Influencers are opinion leaders. In the B2C world, the use of influencers pays off in terms of market reach. An Instagram post only influences a fraction of the recipients, but the reach makes it a valid business case.
For B2B companies, on the other hand, the relevant lever is the "effect" of the measures. There are fewer market participants that can be addressed. However, their purchasing decisions are much more complex, less impulsive and more fact-oriented. An influencer does additional persuasive work here if he lends credibility to the manufacturer's arguments with his experience. For this reason, cooperation with B2B influencers is not characterised by campaigns, but is characterised by a long-term relationship; one could therefore also call it brand ambassador. Typical measures would be byline articles on company-owned channels, interviews with product managers on influencer profiles, product tests or invitations to special training sessions.
What are the specific challenges in B2B influencer marketing compared to B2C?
Identifying a suitable influencer is the biggest hurdle. Many factors must be given considered here: Credibility, reputation of the influencer and fit to the brand and the product - usually for a complex niche market. In contrast to the B2C market, there are no large infl
encer networks for B2B companies; from which the companies could make suitable contacts available.
• How and where exactly do companies find B2B influencers?
Influencers in the B2B area are often their own customers, employees or business partners. Celebrities are rare. An example is Konny Reimann, who was one of the protagonists of the German TV show “Goodbye Germany”. He emigrated to the United States of America, where he renovated his new home and therefore became the voice for the screw manufacturer Spax. In B2B you need an open eye and the risk taking ability to address these people directly.
Which channels are suitable for B2B influencer marketing?
First and foremost, digital communication channels: Blogs and social networks (Twitter, LinkedIn, Xing, YouTube are a few to mention. However, the personal conversations of the influencer should not be underestimated. Word of mouth works for B2B as well as for B2C, but considerably fewer decision-makers need to be convinced. Trade fairs or training events, for example, are these types of channels.
LinkedIn is often referred to as hidden champion - for B2B influencer marketing and also for corporate influencers, i.e. own employees as influencers. What opportunities do companies have to act on platforms such as LinkedIn or Xing through their influencers?
As professional networks, LinkedIn and Xing are geared to B2B communication - both for influencers and for the companies themselves. Similar to other social networks, there is a news feed that is filled with articles and videos of your contacts – activity, well-networked influencers generate relevant reach through them.
However, this does not apply to all industries. Professionals from the medical or agricultural sectors, for example, are less represented on these networks than IT experts or engineers.
Can you give us a case for B2B influencer marketing?
Every year, Cisco calls on the IT industry to apply for a circle of committed, communicative and competent Cisco enthusiasts: The Cisco Champions. An important prerequisite for membership is one's own activity on the social networks. This creates the subsequent multiplier effect for Cisco. Members can hope for privileged contacts, special trainings or exclusive access to new products. And to satisfy the need for status, members can use the Cisco Champions badge in communication. If you want to get an impression of it, just look for #CiscoChampion on Twitter. Of course, there are also non-digital things - e.g. T-shirts.