In the business world, you don’t have to look far to see that the number of B2B companies engaged with influencer marketing is growing. As more companies are moving beyond experimentation to conducting pilots, sequential campaigns and always on programs, there is an increasing desire to expand how brands engage with business influencers.
To help B2B marketers solve that problem, I’m going to share a swipe file of sorts of different business influencer campaigns and engagement opportunities. Implementing just a few of these could help a company with a substantial amount of influencer program activity.
Of course just because you can, doesn’t mean you should! As with all effective marketing, it’s important to match up the campaign approach with the criteria for your customers and how they want to engage with influencer/brand content. Check out the list below and hopefully some good ideas will spark and ignite your 2020 B2B influencer marketing to new levels.
1. Conduct a series of video interview with influencers – Pick a theme and topics you want your brand to be influential about, then interview the top experts. The Break Free B2B interview series is a good example of that. The great thing about video is that you can repurpose as a podcast or even as text for social shares and quotes for related blog posts, presentations, reports and newsletters.
2. Engage an Influencer host on a brand podcast – @TamaraMcCleary does an amazing job for the SAP Tech Unknown podcast, interviewing other influencers and executives from SAP.
3. Invite Influencers to provide content for an interactive content experience – Of course we’ve been specialized in this form of content collaboration for many years and have numerous examples. The interactive content format is engaging for your audience and also for contributing influencers because it elevates their status and visibility. One of my favorite examples of this is this microsite featuring 10+ influencers and a simulated voice assistant named Penny, who helps you navigate the world of finance, machine learning and AI.
4. Publish a list of top influencers in each industry vertical where you operate – Many companies want to begin developing an influencer program but have no meaningful connections with influencers yet. One of many ways to get on influencers’ radar is to publish a qualitative list of who is leading the field. Then reach out to share the honor followed by an invitation to collaborate. Go beyond one-off lists and make it an annual event like the list we’ve been publishing each year for the past 10 years of women who rock on digital marketing.
5. Add influencer reactions and expertise to a research report – When IT Service Management leader, Cherwell Software released their research report on Work Process Integration and Digital Transformation, they engaged a group of relevant influencers including Dr. Sally Eaves, Tim Crawford and Ray Wang to share their expertise.
6. Enlist influencers as judges in a contest – This is exactly what Alcatel Lucent Enterprise did with their IT Vanguard Awards. Industry influencers were invited to review nominations for IT network and communications professionals. The program created great exposure for the winners, the judges and for ALE, resulting in multiple six figure leads.
7. Engage influencers to interview brand executives either online or in real-time at a conference – The influencer marketing team at SAP engaged multiple influencers to interview SAP executives during the SAPPHIRE conference, an ideal time to connect industry pros with in-house thought leadership like this interview I did with Oliver Betz, General Manager, Innovative Business Solutions at SAP, on innovation.
8. Invite influencers to an event at brand HQ: tours, executive meet and greets, education, social content creation – Adobe does a great job with this kind of B2B influencer activation and hosted 18 industry marketing, design, tech and business influencers to San Jose for a deep dive into topics like CDP, CXM and of course, Adobe’s solutions. The bonus was a fun visit to the company store for Adobe swag. Here’s a fun video from Ross Quintana documenting the experience.
9. Invite influencers to write a series of articles published on the brand site – Brands that answer buyer questions provide a valuable service. Inviting 3rd party experts to answer those questions through useful content is even more valuable. Keep in mind, in most cases a commitment to writing on a regular basis is a paid engagement with the contributing influencers.
10. Engage influencers to keynote or workshop at your brand’s user conference – Another common form of paid influencer engagement is as a featured speaker at a company event. These engagements can elevate the performance of an event when a talented performer that also has deep industry expertise can inspire the audience.
11. Partner influencers with your customers to interview each other for a web video series – Customer trust in brands is not high but trust in peers and experts is. Creating conversation opportunities between credible industry experts and your clients can inspire truly meaningful dialog that resonates with potential customers.
12. Invite influencers to an event to livestream and document their experience – I have been invited by multiple B2B companies to attend events and share my impressions using whatever media I was comfortable with including Adobe, SAP, IBM, and Oracle. A small number of influencers experiencing a brand event can have a big impact. At SAP’s annual conference, 15 influencers drove 25% of all social media impressions.
13. Invite influencers along with clients and prospects to VIP dinners where your brand presents, sponsors or attends industry events – This is one of my favorite things about attending industry conferences: connecting our clients with top industry influencers. There’s no selling, just an experience and connection that everyone involved remembers – and that top of mind effect is priceless.
14. Create an ebook featuring brand thought leadership accentuated by relevant industry influencer insights – Oracle Dyn created the Cybersecurity Intelligence Report featuring a combination of respected influencers and practitioners as well as an Oracle executive, building credibility by association.
15. Run a webinar or series of webinars featuring an influencer as host or guest and a brand executive – Featuring an industry expert in a webinar is a fairly common influencer activation and the reason is, it works! So why not create a series of webinars to build audience, momentum and a body of content that can be repurposed?
16. Engage influencers to contribute expertise to content that advances a key brand theme – It sounds pretty basic, but I can’t tell you how many B2B brands produce content without any 3rd party credibility. Adobe engaged multiple influencers to provide insights around customer experience management in this interactive infographic in support of the Adobe Summit conference.
17. Feature quotes from a group of influencers for a roundup blog post or landing page – Dell Outlet Small Business added commentary from multiple small business influencers about the value of refurbished computers on this landing page to drive awareness and engagement.
18. Curate quotes from influencer contributions and repurpose them as social shares throughout the year – Modular content means planning repurposing by using templates with influencer interviews and content capture. This makes it easier to create a library of influencer quotes organized by topic for social shares, use in contributed articles, newsletters, blog posts and presentations. Not only does reposting influencer quotes add credibility to brand content, but they also give the influencer ongoing exposure, which they will appreciate.
19. Engage influencers with a blog network, or podcast network to come up with a creative campaign for your brand – The notion of “creator” is most often associated with B2C influencers. But more B2B influencers are adapting and acquiring media creation savvy. Better yet is when influence creators and media publishers bundle themselves together.
20. Invite influencers to an executive meeting or retreat to discuss topics of mutual interest, then publish a summary – Guided discussions amongst industry experts and internal subject matter experts can generate a goldmine of ideas. The Digital Marketing Institute has formed the Global Industry Advisory Champions with representatives from major brands Google, Facebook, IBM, CocaCola, The Economist, LinkedIn and even TopRank Marketing ???? to share insights around the state of digital marketing and education. Summaries of conversations are released along with industry research.
21. Engage an influencer to be an Emcee or digital correspondent during a brand conference – A few people I know do this really well. First, Jay Baer and Katie Martell are excellent emcees and influential in their unique ways. Sarah Evans is an amazing digital correspondent that can cover a conference with interviews and commentary to really level up the brand.
22. Make your influencer community available to a publication – 12 influencers including Dion Hinchliffe, Tamara McCleary, and Ronald Van Loon were interviewed by The New Economy publication during the SAPPHIRE conference for this video focused on a key topic of interest to SAP: The Experience Economy.
23. Create a series of blog posts featuring author influencers and their books – The team at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions has published a series of posts honoring top marketing authors that have been well received by their readers and inspiring for authors to share. Even better, is when authors recommend other authors to be featured.
24. Have a tech influencer do an “unboxing video” of a server or other hardware from your tech brand – Many B2C influencer tactics could be cleverly applied to B2B products. Go ahead and search for “server unboxing” on YouTube and you may be surprised at how many there are. Maybe a “haul” video from an office supply store isn’t such a bad idea?
25. Publish a list of the most influential speakers at conferences relevant to your industry – Of course this is something we’ve been doing here on our blog for several years including Content Marketing Influencers / Speakers and B2B Marketing Influencers / Speakers. Publishing influencer lists before the conference can open up conversations while attending the event and complement other outreach afterwards.
BONUS! (Thanks to Debbie Friez @dfriez and Jack Fitzpatrick @fitzJackrick from our Influencer Marketing team)
26. Invite influencers to do software walkthroughs and post them to IGTV, Facebook, and YouTube. They could could also be live-streamed on platforms like Twitch. 27. Host a networking happy hour with influencers and your key customer contacts during a conference or in your city. 28. Co-create a series of podcasts on the influencers channels that include supporting content like blogs, twitter chats/polls and cross-channel amplification. 29. Create an ask-the-expert video series on your brand YouTube channel where influencers join a brand co-host to answer top questions.
While there’s a variety of solid and actionable ideas in this list, it’s really important to lay the groundwork and strategy for an influencer marketing program in terms of understanding what kind of influencers and topics make the most sense for your brand and customers.
Influencers are not magic, but when you develop strong relationships with a relevant group of influencers, the impact on your marketing across the customer lifecycle can seem magical.
If you would like to learn more about influencer marketing for B2B, see these resources and be sure to check out the following list of upcoming conferences where I will be sharing strategies, best practices and case studies featuring B2B brands of all sizes:
February 24-25, 2020 – B2BMX – Scottsdale, AZ How to Optimize ABM Results with Influencer Marketing
March 19, 2020 – Convergence Summit – Minneapolis, MN In Search of Trust: How Authentic Content Drives Customer Experience
April 20-22, 2020 – Content Tech – San Diego, CA How to Optimize Content Performance with Influence
April 22-23, 2020 – Content Marketing Conference – Boston, MA Be Best Answer for Your Customers with SEO and Influence
May 27 -28, 2020 – B2B Ignite USA – Chicago, IL In Marketing We Trust: How to Build Influence with the C-Suite and on the Street
I hope to see you there!