Break Free B2B Marketing: Dez Blanchfield of Sociaall on Joining the Conversation

Dez Blanchfield

Dez Blanchfield

When it comes to B2B influencer marketing, it’s natural to wonder just what an industry influencer actually looks like?

Our third season of Break Free B2B Marketing video interviews feature conversations with top B2B influencers, looking closely at the issues that each expert is influential about in their industry.

For more than a decade our team at TopRank Marketing has fostered a strong community of leading influencers, developing close relationships with subject matter experts in many industries.

Running a successful business is the art of juggling a thousand different things in a thousand different ways. It can be challenging to know which of these things to truly focus on and which balls are okay to drop for the sake of company growth. With so many new technologies at the forefront: cloud, machine learning, IoT, big data, virtualization, cybersecurity, and dozens of others – how do you know where to focus? How do you know which business best practices are the right one for your company vs. others?

There’s no catch-all answer to these questions, but there are industry experts who are more capable of answering them than anyone else. One of those experts is Dez Blanchfield. Dez has been in the business of digital transformation for over 25 years and has learned a lot from his robust experience working with IT leaders, solving complex problems, and running his own successful digital social agency, Sociaall Inc.

He’s here today in the latest episode of TopRank’s Break Free B2B marketing video series to share some of his invaluable insight.

Break Free B2B Interview with Dez Blanchfield

If you’re interested in checking out a particular portion of the discussion, you can find a quick general outline below, as well as a few excerpts that stood out to us.

  • 1:00 – Introduction to Dez
  • 2:03 – Is it a good idea to be a jack of all trades?
  • 5:31 – Is the pace of change accelerating?
  • 11:25 – Are business changes made due to the Covid-19 pandemic going to stick?
  • 20:00 – For the B2B marketing audience: where are things headed in the near future?
  • 40:20 – B2B influencer marketing
  • 47:11 – It’s not about the number of followers, but the number of people you can move
  • 53:24 – Tracking and monitoring development from B2C to B2B
  • 56:10 – Where can you find Dez to hear more?

Josh: It seems like you’re looking to where the puck is going to be versus where the puck is now and have your entire career. So in a very general sense for our B2B marketing audience: where’s the puck going? If you’re a B2B business person and leader and executive, where should you be looking just for the near future?

Dez: The advice I’ve been giving people in the last three to five years is that it was a time when you could do it all yourself. If you were an airline, or a bank, or if you were in health care, or wealth management, if you’re a telco, there was a time when you could do it all, you could run your own telephone systems, run your own technology, stack your own email servers, your own domain name servers. But the complexity is so great now and the speed at which we have to move, as you alluded to before, is so rapid, and so short, and you know that the demand is for reduced time to market. The advice I’m giving people now is: find the best partner choice. In each of the segments, you need to be able to address problems. So if you’re a bank, be a bank, focus on being the best bank, you can, and look for things that are gonna disrupt you. But don’t try to be a phone company. Don’t run your own PBX, don’t run your voice systems. If you own a website, don’t become a hosting company. Don’t waste your time running web services.

[bctt tweet=”“If you’re a bank, be a bank, focus on being the best bank you can, and look for things that are going to disrupt you. But don’t try to be a phone company.” — Dez Blanchfield @dez_blanchfield #BreakFreeB2B” username=”toprank”]

Josh: No, and it seems like the pandemic, which you mentioned there, is almost an accelerant more than anything. We were thinking of it as a slow down and shut down and lockdown. But really, it seems to have just taken all of these very cautious steps that businesses would have would have taken and made them suddenly have to run forward with it. Do you think these are changes that are going to stick? Or are we going to have this inertia pulling us back to normal?

Dez: The way I like to describe it is: if I was in a boardroom the other day having to whiteboard this out, and I would describe it as we’ve already jumped off this cliff. And if you’ve ever jumped off a cliff, you know, it’s impossible to get back up there without actually landing somewhere and then walking a long way back to the track to get to the top. So we have, without wanting to, had to jump off this cliff and deal with it.

I think the majority of the impact is not going to reverse. We are definitely going to want to sit in cafes and go to restaurants again. But the way in which we interact with those will change. So for example, I have an app now for my local barista and I just ordered my cappuccino and wandered past and picked it up at a window. I don’t wait for 15 minutes in a queue in a stuffy room waiting for my coffee to turn up. So you know those use cases have already changed. And retailers have had to go online when they’ve never been online. They’ve had to get apps or integrate and leverage things, shift to digital payments and move away from cash. All these changes have happened. Even with the worst possible human apathy, where humans are lazy, and very arrogant. And you know when we think of them, when we think of some of the changes that have happened the last couple of decades. They’ve come about and people become lazy and there’s been high level apathy and they go back to the normal ways.

Keep your eye on the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Also check out episodes from season 1 and season 2.

Take your B2B marketing to new heights by checking out out previous season 3 episodes of Break Free B2B Marketing:

The post Break Free B2B Marketing: Dez Blanchfield of Sociaall on Joining the Conversation appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

9 Questions to Ask When Hiring a B2B Influencer Marketing Agency

top questions when hiring a B2B influencer marketing agency

top questions when hiring a B2B influencer marketing agency

Confidence amongst B2B marketers in the role of influence, both externally and internally, has grown substantially in the past year. Following that growth is the number of B2B influencer marketing success stories inspiring marketers to investigate collaborative content strategies that include influencers.

At the same time, the pandemic has had its effect on marketing budgets and one of the trends over the past year that has stuck is the need for greater accountability and demonstration of ROI for marketing investments. While research shows that 96% of B2B marketers that engage influencers consider their program to be successful, 60% of marketers overall do not feel they have the skills or expertise in-house to execute on influencer programs.

The contrast of confidence and opportunity with the lack of in-house capabilities has drawn more marketers than ever to seek outside help for working with influencers. Agencies with deep expertise in B2B influencer marketing strategy, tactics, software and relationships with top influencers enables B2B brands to hit the ground running with confidence and acceleration that simply isn’t possible working alone.

Our research has found that B2B marketers that seek help from agencies often engage those experts to perform several key functions:

  • Identify influencers 79%
  • Manage influencer relationships 76%
  • Develop influencer marketing strategy 71%
  • Measure influencer program effectiveness 66%
  • Integrate with other marketing efforts 63%
  • Implement influencer marketing campaigns 60%
  • Manage influencer marketing technology 44%

While the value agencies can provide B2B brands around working with influencers is clear, there are some things marketers should look for and ask in order to separate those with actual skills and capabilities vs. those agencies opportunistically adding another offering to their services mix. Here is a collection of important questions B2B marketers should ask when evaluating B2B marketing agencies for influencer content marketing programs:

How long have B2B companies engaged your agency to deliver influencer marketing services?

As with all marketing strategies that gain popularity, many agencies with tack them on to their services mix in order to capitalize on the trend without actually having the expertise (yet). Do you want to be a guinea pig for an agency or do you want to be another success story?

Have you provided influencer marketing services in our industry before? Please share an example:

Expertise in your industry matters enough that this question must be asked. While overall influencer marketing is newer to B2B than in consumer industries, there are a growing number of specialists that understand the nuances of the industries they focus on and have existing relationships with influencers in those industries. Influence requires authenticity and to create that kind of trusted credibility with industry influencers, it can be very beneficial if the agency has deep expertise and connections already.

What is the size and nature of your influencer network and how do you ensure we are only working with the most impactful influencers?

Experienced B2B marketing agencies that work with influencers understand the value of relationships. Therefore, they will not simply “use” influencers for campaigns, but work to create, maintain and elevate relationships with those influencers so when a new client project comes along, they are warm to the idea of an invitation to participate. The best influencers are very, very busy and in high demand. An existing relationship with the agency is often the reason a coveted influencer says yes to engage in a B2B brand they have not worked with before.

How do you go about identifying and activating the right influencers for us?

As mentioned above, our research found that the top task B2B brands get help with from agencies is influencer identification. It’s important to understand if the agency takes a transactional approach or a more romantic/persuasive approach. Technology also plays a role and if the agency simply says they would use Twitter and LinkedIn vs. a software platform that uses algorithms and sometimes artificial intelligence to analyze vast amounts of social data to identify individuals most appropriate to your topics of relevance, audience resonance and reach – then there will be disappointment. Influence in B2B is more than social data and requires both technology and industry expertise to identify, qualify and activate.

What is your process for campaigns vs. always-on influencer programs?

Many agencies new to influencer content marketing don’t really understand when campaign is right compared to an always-on program or even what an always-on program entails. It’s important that the agency can describe the use case differences and how an influencer program can evolve over time to deliver substantially greater value.

What compensation or value exchange approach do you recommend when working with influencers?

In B2B, the majority of influencer engagement is organic value exchange where influencers participate in content collaboration in exchange for exposure or participation in a formal brand influencer program. However, there are a growing number of professional B2B influencers and that means more financial compensation. It is important to understand whether the agency defaults to simply paying influencers for every contribution or if they have the ability to recruit influencer organically as well as work with professional influencers for hire.

How do you integrate external influencers with internal executives and SMEs?

Influence is more important than ever for B2B brands to create, maintain and grow connections with their customers. Pairing external influencers with internal executives or subject matter experts creates value for the customer experience multiple levels. Including both internal and external influencers in brand content gives it more credibility as well as building the influence of internal brand staff through association with respected industry experts. Does the agency understand this opportunity and do they have expertise in convincing executives to be more social and influential?

What types of content do you specialize in for influencer collaboration?

A growing number of B2B influencer marketing resources offer both technology and services from an influencer identification and engagement standpoint. It is important to understand what outputs and outcomes are possible as a result of the expertise the agency brings. Content is one of the most valuable products from B2B brand and influencer collaborations and it will be important to understand whether the agency has experience in the formats that influencers favor: live video streaming, recorded video, podcasts, social audio, episodic “show” content, social media content, live events and of course all forms of text content – blog posts, research, reports, etc.

What software or technologies do you use to support influencer identification, management and performance measurement?

There simply is no scaling of impact when it comes to influencer marketing unless technologies are in place to support ongoing influencer identification, management and performance measurement. There are a handful of platforms that promise to do everything but the more likely scenario for a B2B brand is that there will be a combination of platform + specialist tools. It is important to know what the agency has deep experience with and what kinds of specialist tools are used and for what reason.

The evaluation process for engaging a B2B marketing agency to provide influencer content marketing services will vary by the needs of the company, market, resources, timeframe and industry. But these questions should give B2B marketers that are considering engaging outside expertise in any industry the answers to identify the best possible partners. On the surface, partnering with influencers can seem pretty straightforward. But the reality is, the difference between a successful pilot that generates both results and the data to support scaled influencer marketing engagement and a waste of time and resources is whether marketers have invested getting help from those that have proven strategies, processes, relationships and technology savvy.

The post 9 Questions to Ask When Hiring a B2B Influencer Marketing Agency appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Choosing The Best B2B Influencers Is Key To Success — Here’s Why

Professional woman holding yes and no signs image.

Professional woman holding yes and no signs image.

Why is it important to find the right B2B influencers?

Are there right and wrong ways to approach the process of choosing the best B2B influencers?

The crucial task of selecting B2B influencers who will drive the greatest success for a brand isn’t a simple one, yet it’s one often shrouded in mystery — a question that we’ll explore utilizing a collection of do’s and don’ts.

There is no single more important element in B2B influencer marketing than finding subject matter experts who will provide the best relevance, resonance, and engagement for your brand.

Join in as we take a look at what a smart B2B influencer selection process looks like, and why some approaches are better than others. If you’re wonderful why influencer marketing is a winning solution for B2B brands, also be sure to check out our recent “Why Influencer Marketing Should Be a Priority 2021 Tactic for B2B Brands.”

[bctt tweet=”“There is no single more important element in B2B influencer marketing than finding subject matter experts who will provide the best relevance, resonance, and engagement for your brand.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]

Don’t — Rely Solely On Follower Counts

Mere follower count tallies tell only a partial tale when it comes to whether an influencer’s audience is first and foremost authentic — and not filled with fake accounts and the like — along with being topically relevant to the issues that are important to a brand.

A potential influencer’s follower count plays a role in the selection process, certainly, however learning whether an industry expert’s followers are actively engaging with them by posting, commenting or by utilizing other forms of social sharing is usually a more important element when it comes to finding ideal influencers.

This type of follower analysis requires a deeper variety of research into whether a potential influencer will likely be a good brand match, and as we’ll explore, it requires both taking full advantage of powerful tools for measuring social media engagement as well as a human touch.

As our CEO and co-founder Lee Odden has shared with audiences since the dawn of B2B influencer marketing, in the B2B world you actually have to be an expert to be a great influencer — you can’t just be good at making videos, tweeting, or other individual particular forms of social messaging, as is often the case in B2C.

Do — Measure Follower Relevance, Resonance & Engagement

As we’ll explore, there are numerous helpful tools and platforms that help to a certain extent in the process of finding the best influencers for a particular brand, however their numerical measurements and rankings are only able to do so much, and often work best when several tools are used and then combined and analyzed by a competent B2B influencer marketing researcher.

It’s key to look at a potential influencer’s topical relevance, and their resonance — the degree to which that topic resonates with the audience network of a particular influencer.

[bctt tweet=”“There are numerous helpful tools and platforms that help to a certain extent in the process of finding the best influencers for a particular brand, however their numerical measurements and rankings are only able to do so much.” @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]

Don’t — Take A B2C Influencer Approach For Reaching B2B Audiences

B2C influencer marketing’s traditional approach, often built on paid relationships with minor or major celebrities — while occasionally utilized in B2B marketing — typically isn’t well-suited to creating the kind of expert credibility that B2B buyers and customers are seeking.

Instead, smart B2B marketers use an influencer selection process that heavily relies on locating the most relevant subject matter experts for a particular topic — professionals who may be famous only on a certain niche industry Reddit channel or other social media platform.

Their form of celebrity, however — while on the micro side — resonates well with B2B buyers, as the fame a good B2B influencer has built is based on genuine expertise about a topic.

As Lee has explained over the years, if you want the best influencer content, invite the scientist, engineer, educator, or academic to share their perspective. When they do this as an influencer, it’s going to lift the quality of your brand’s content and help make it great.

Simply seeking true celebrities for influencer marketing and hoping for massive engagement offers very little return on investment in the B2B arena, where influence has reached a level of democratization. This presents new opportunities for influencers, and makes the process of finding the right influencer more challenging than ever, despite having what may be a bigger pool of influencer talent than ever to work with.

As Lee and others have suggested, smart brands will find B2B influencers that help them go for a little bit from a lot of different people in an important niche, where the micro-influencer approach has increasingly become more relevant as a way to build advocacy and co-create content in a way that speaks closely to the voice of the customer.

Do — Recognize B2B Brands’ Unique Influencer Challenges

The process of selecting the best influencer matches for B2B marketing should include substantial recognition of the nature of B2B influencer marketing, with its unique challenges such as significantly longer buying cycles than in B2C, while also being aware of the opportunities that are unique to B2B influencer marketing.

There’s little doubt that today’s B2B buyers are overwhelmed with options, and that they have often grown distrustful of marketing and advertising, which has increased the power of influencers, who are expert sources of trusted information.

Choosing the right B2B influencers leads to the creation of credible connections with people who are actively interested in paying attention.

B2B’s longer sales cycles result in vast amounts of content being created to help buyers learn, and the research they do is increasingly self-directed, so unlike in traditional B2C influencer marketing, B2B influencers must have the credibility to influence others.

When you’ve successfully found the best B2B influencers, you generally have people who are truly invested in improving their industry in the long run, so taking the extra time and performing the additional steps to discover and vet them are costs that are usually well spent.

Don’t — Settle For An Automated Generic Approach

We’ve touched on some of the tools and platforms available to help marketers find potential influencers — utilities such as Traackr, Onalytica, BuzzSumo, and dozens of others — and why even when combined, the numerical rankings such services can deliver will only take you so far in your journey to find the best B2B influencers.

As Lee has noted in his various presentations on B2B influencer marketing, it’s important to utilize software during this stage — tools that can crawl millions of social messages and algorithmically identify the people who have a particular combination of reach, network size, popularity — but more importantly — the topical relevance that shows that a potential influencer is indeed publishing content on the topic that you as a brand want to be the best answer for.

Do — Use A Human Touch To Refine Tool & Platform Recommendations

Perhaps the single most important work in finding truly the best influencers for a B2B brand takes place once the apps have been utilized, the platforms have been thoroughly put through their paces, and the social tools have crunched their final numbers — this is when the human touch begins, and takes the B2B influencer selection process to an entirely different level of success.

Using platforms and social tools, successful B2B marketers can have piles of data on potential influencers to work with, but what sets apart the best plan from the rest is when a professional familiar with every facet of B2B influencer marketing methodically assesses that data as just one piece of the digital tapestry of successful B2B influencer marketing success.

A cohesive approach to the B2B influencer selection combines the best data available about potential influencers with a human touch that includes such elements as:

  • Staying True to a Brand’s Mission
  • Weeding Out Irrelevant Data
  • Prioritizing the Best Data
  • Moving Influencer Recommendations into Solid Strategy

Other human-powered elements that go well beyond influencer research platforms and tools include the use search, customer relationship management (CRM), and social data relating not only to potential influencers but to a brand’s mission, to get an understanding of what it is that people are thinking about relevant to the brand and their customer connections. This type of information can help uncover intersections of topics that can be factored in when selecting the best influencers for a particular brand.

[bctt tweet=”“The best plans use a professional familiar with every facet of B2B influencer marketing to methodically assesses data as just one piece of the digital tapestry of successful B2B influencer marketing success.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]

Don’t — Use Only A One-Off Approach

A short-term approach to B2B influencer marketing isn’t well-suited to activating the unique power that the top B2B influencers have to deliver stellar results to brands.

One-off B2B influencer campaigns are akin to merely borrowing influence by working with top industry experts, and when that’s the extent of a brand’s commitment, they’re not going to reap the full value and the many benefits of influencer marketing.

As Lee has noted, when you take a short term approach, you’re also typically not going to form the type of ongoing emotional connections with influencers that are central to an always-on approach to B2B influencer marketing.

Countering the short-term variety of B2B influencer marketing is always-on influence, which succeeds in part because buyers are always on, and our digital world of today certainly also is.

Do — Utilize The Power of Always-On Influencers

When choosing B2B influencers, be cognizant of the advantages of an always-on strategy, which thrives in making the type of lifelong commitment to clients and customers that creates avid fans. Despite its advantages, just 19 percent of B2B marketers are running ongoing influencer marketing programs, research from our State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report shows.

Among the many reasons why ongoing B2B influencer marketing programs are successful, the following insights from our research help reinforce the point:

  • 60 percent of marketers who use always-on influencer marketing programs are very successful versus 5 percent who do periodic campaigns
  • 12 times more marketers are very successful when they run an always-on influencer program versus those who opt for periodic campaigns
  • 89 percent of B2B marketers who use an always-on approach expect their budgets to increase or remain the same in the next 12 months
  • 94 percent say that influencer marketing will grow in importance over the next 12 months
  • 75 percent saw an increase in their views of brand content using an always-on approach

The process of finding and selecting the right B2B influencers benefits when right from the beginning it’s understood that an always-on approach to influencer marketing will be used.

Among the human elements that go beyond prospective influencer ranking data to find the best influencers is an understanding of whether the relationships between brands and influencers will be short-lived or one that will stand the test of time.

A healthy selection process takes this into consideration, along with all of the other influencer research elements we’ve touched on.

Say ‘I Do’ To A Best-Answer Influencer Search

via GIPHY

By knowing what not to do when it comes to finding and selecting the best B2B influencer matches, saying “I do!” to the right ones suddenly becomes much more straightforward. We hope that the insights we’ve explored here will help inform your own B2B influencer selection strategy.

More B2B brands than ever are turning to a dedicated specialist B2B influencer marketing agency such as TopRank Marketing, which has worked with brands from Adobe, LinkedIn, and SAP to 3M, Dell, Oracle and many more. Our research shows that 60 percent of marketers don’t have the right in-house skills or knowledge to execute an influencer marketing program. Learn how to begin an influencer marketing pilot program or start a full-featured always-on influencer program.

The post Choosing The Best B2B Influencers Is Key To Success — Here’s Why appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

How B2B Marketing Influencers Are Finding Success On New Social Channels

Woman showing phone screen image.

Woman showing phone screen image.

In the world of social media, the only constant is change. Each platform continues to update and add new features, and new channels appear on a regular basis. With this change comes opportunities for B2B marketing influencers to share their thought leadership in new ways and have their voices heard.

I tapped top B2B influencers and thought leaders to see where they are finding successes on some of the newer social channels. Come along and let’s explore the social media maze with them.

Finding Business in the Clubhouse

If you are jumping on trends, don’t miss getting an invite to the audio-only Clubhouse app. TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden noted “audio and voice will continue to be a trend for information discovery, consumption and engagement in 2021.”

One of the key reasons to be on Clubhouse is to gain followers, and not just in that app, but also on other channels. Industry veteran Dennis Yu documented his first day on the app with key insights into how he gained 650 followers in one day.

Stephanie ThumStephanie Thum, founding principal at Practical CX has also successfully built connections through Clubhouse. “Participating on the Clubhouse app immediately increased my social and professional networks. Clubhouse is amazing for the give-and-take communication and information exchange,” Stephanie said.

Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer, chief operating officer at BSquared Media agrees. “I am seeing a ton of B2B marketers on this platform simply to connect, exchange ideas, and network. I’ve made many new connections through conversations on Clubhouse that lead to new LinkedIn relationships.”

Ivana Taylor

The invite-only nature of Clubhouse can make it feel limiting, however. Ivana Taylor, marketing strategist at DIY Marketing commented, “I’m looking forward to when more of my friends join so we can all be together.”

Brian Fanzo

Success can be measured in many ways, but adding to the bottom line is at the top of the list. Brian Fanzo, digital futurist and professional speaker at iSocialFanz, says he’s gotten business from Clubhouse. “A brand heard me, and now I am doing a speaking gig for them.”

Clubhouse is also time consuming. In order to dedicate the time he needed to develop his presence on Clubhouse, Brian learned to lean more on his team and delegate more responsibilities.

“Clubhouse is an interesting place for connection and inspiration, but in the short-term pretty limited in terms of customer communications and content creation for the B2B professional,” Mark added, “But it is evolving rapidly, and it’s definitely worth exploration.”

Twitter Spaces Taking on the Challenge

Twitter rolled-out it’s new audio-only tool, too — Twitter Spaces. If you don’t have it yet, you are not alone, as it is only for iOS, but rolling out to Android soon. Android users can join and participate in Spaces on the Twitter app, they just can’t start one.

When describing the difference between Spaces and Clubhouse, Brian says, “Clubhouse is like a conference. Spaces is like a dinner party.” One big difference is in the reactions to your speech or discussion, as Twitter let’s you react either to everyone in the space personally, or to the whole group. Moderators can also tweet additional information via direct tweets to the space, to allow the group to gain additional context.

“These apps are a gateway drug to social storytelling,” Brain noted when hosting a Spaces room to discuss both apps.

If you follow the #TwitterSmarter weekly Twitter chat, you may have checked out the after party on Spaces with host and social media speaker and consultant Madalyn Skar. On her blog, Madalyn shared a Beta tester’s success story of how she increased her following by 769%, and how as a plus, they were all authentic followers. Twitter Spaces also offers another key advantage to the B2B marketer – branding. Spaces is a great place for you to establish your brand to a larger audience or in a one-to-one setting.

Boosting with Fleets on Twitter

The popularity of the story format has now come to both Twitter and LinkedIn. Twitter’s version of stories can help to boost the presence of any thought leader. This newish tool is only visible on mobile, just like Spaces.

Recently, I noticed a tweet Stephanie posted for our client Mitel significantly outperformed many of her other posts. She commented, “Right?! That one Tweet went wild! I have a totally unsubstantiated theory that all of the posts got more impressions this time because of Twitter Fleets and Clubhouse.” She accomplished that by reposting the tweet in a Fleet.

Exploring Other Channels

A few months ago, I noticed that MeWe was making a resurgence. In musing about it, a B2B influencer asked me for more information, so I sent her an invite to go exploring with me. It is not currently a big B2B platform, but one to be aware of, along with Ello.

Shonali Burke

“In terms of new platforms, there’s no shortage of them; I’m even seeing some older platforms show up in my stream (such as Ello),” says Shonoli Burke, president and CEO of Shonali Burke Consulting.

She continues, “For me, that points to two elements marketers really need to be thinking about: first, if you’re going to blast the same content out via different platforms via cross-publishing, you run the risk of generalizing your content to the point where it loses impact. How much attention are you actually paying to the specific audience for that platform? Aren’t you actually contributing to the noise, and actually reducing the potential to reach what *should* be a specific audience?”

“And the second follows from the first: *why* are you on that platform anyway? Are you on TikTok because it’s the shiny new toy du jour, or because you’re trying to reach Gen Z for very specific reasons? And does it make sense for *your* specific type of organization? What’s the strategy here?” she added.

Finding Success on Social Channels

B2B influencers are finding success on many of these new platforms, but the key is time and finding the right audience. As these channels grow and change, we as marketers should challenge ourselves to join influencers in the exploration of these new spaces.

What is your favorite new social channel and why? We would like to hear about your experience.

The post How B2B Marketing Influencers Are Finding Success On New Social Channels appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

5 Ways B2B Marketers Sabotage Influencer Marketing Success

Sabotage B2B influencer marketing

Sabotage B2B influencer marketing

It is the nature of marketers to continuously evaluate the effectiveness of their efforts. The problem with this approach to marketing optimization is that it assumes effective execution of marketing strategies, which we all know, is often not the case. Poor execution is as often at fault of poor performance as the effectiveness or appropriateness of the tactic.

For nearly 10 years we’ve been engaged in influencer collaboration for B2B content marketing programs and have worked with a wide range of B2B brands during that time. We’ve fielded multiple times that in inquiries and questions from B2B marketers about influencer marketing as well as conducting the first ever dedicated research study into B2B influencer marketing.  This depth of experience has provided unique and far reaching insight into how B2B brands understand and implement content marketing efforts in partnership with influencers – good, bad and otherwise.

While the B2B marketing industry has evolved and become more sophisticated with influencer adoption rates on the rise, old habits and bad habits often remain.  Our focus on influence as a B2B marketing discipline has enabled us to identify the best practices as well as the ways in which B2B marketers continue to sabotage the success.

Avoiding bad practices is a strong first step to ensuring investments in influencer marketing programs result in expected returns. Here are 5 of the most common things B2B marketers do to sabotage their influencer marketing success:

1. Waiting to Recruit

The best time to recruit an army is not on the first day of the war.

That’s probably not the best analogy, but approaching influencers as an afterthought vs. as part of the planning of a marketing effort is a big mistake. For B2B brands that are new to working with influencers, it is important to understand that influencer recruitment takes time (and skill). Being able to engage the right mix of influencers on a very short timeframe without pre-existing relationships is unlikely. That’s a problem if a B2B marketing effort is counting on those influencers to add credibility and promotion to the campaign.

Best practice: The time to start recruiting influencers is long before you need to activate them for a content collaboration. This is especially true where influencer engagement will be mostly or all organic vs. paid.  B2B marketers need to put their empathy hats on and think about how to create value and sense of urgency for the influencer through relationship building vs. thinking influencers are simply waiting to work for free when the B2B marketer emails them.

There are ways to fast-track relationship building with influencers and we use those strategies regularly within our influencer marketing practice at TopRank Marketing. But doing so draws upon many years of experience, established processes, technology and strategy. Without that experience, B2B marketers should think about following, interacting with and creating value for influencers that they want to activate months in the future in order to get the highest quality contributions, and enthusiastic/authentic promotion.

2. Believing the Hype

Follower counts and ability to influence are not the same thing.

With the popularity of influencer marketing across B2C and B2B industries, the attraction to boost network size exists for every person that identifies as an influencer. The reality is, within most B2B verticals, the most influential people don’t always self promote themselves as influencers and may not even pay much attention to growing their networks. Instead, many people who are influential in a B2B industry are focused on doing the work. The lesson to learn is not to rely solely on social network size (fans, friends and followers) or overly self-promotional “influencers” since the hype simply doesn’t translate into action in B2B.

Best practice: Influence in B2B is based on real expertise, respect and third party validation by peers, communities, publications, professional organizations and often, academic institutions. This influence may be a mix of online; which is easier to validate with influencer software, and offline; which is harder to source and validate. Validate the influence of potential experts by qualifying the topics they are known for with how the communities they are expected to influence see them. Topical relevance, resonance with the community and reach are the basic data points for evaluating influencers.

Having a million followers in B2B is very unique and that person could be a great match, but don’t rely on network size alone to evaluate influencers. Do the homework to validate they are topically relevant to your audience and the campaign and that their audience is the audience your B2B brand wants to reach. Otherwise, you’re wasting everyone’s time.

3. Content Mismatch Creates Customer Confusion

B2B marketers may find an influencer that is topically relevant and has the audience the B2B brand needs to reach, but if the content vehicle the B2B brand uses to engage that audience isn’t what the influencer is known for, it may not be trusted or create confusion, “Why is this person known for a podcast doing videos for a B2B brand I’ve never heard them talk about before?”

Best practice: Identify influencers that are topically relevant and also take into consideration the brand mentions and content formats the influencer is most known for. Influencer marketing or social media software can help identify to what degree a potential influencer mentions your B2B brand. You can also see what content formats they publish most and that resonate best with their audiences.

If a podcaster talks about Adobe in a positive way fairly often, then it makes sense to engage that influencer via a brand podcast for an Adobe content activation – assuming they are validated on expertise, topical relevance, resonance and reach of course.

4. Transactional Approach Leads to Little Action

Many B2B marketers view working with influencers through the lens of B2C, which has had much faster and greater adoption so far than in the business world. B2C influence engagements are almost always treated like an advertising buy where the value exchange is about paying an influencer to create content that is hosted and promoted on the influencer’s own social channels.

In B2B, many of the people that are most influential do not monetize their influencer through transactional value exchanges like we see in B2C. Their motivation for engaging in a collaboration on content with a B2B brand might be more about growing the influencer’s own credibility and authority around a certain topic that they write books about, speak professionally about or provide consulting around.

Therefore, B2B brands that treat influencer engagement purely as a transaction will often not get the reaction that they are looking for or not get the emotional investment needed to generate the most credible and authentic content creation/promotion that is needed.

Best practice: Part of the influencer recruiting process is for B2B brands to make an effort to understand what motivates the influencer. Are they brandividuals that solely monetize through paid influencer engagements? Are they an industry expert whose credibility amongst peers would be elevated if they worked with your B2B brand? Are they a respected professional with a high quality audience that believes in the vision of your B2B brand and wants to be a part of it?

Find out what the influencer is motivated by and how a collaboration with your B2B brand can help them achieve their goals. Then focus on creating a great experience for the influencer that is more meaningful than mechanical. If they care, they’ll share!

5. Failure to Communicate

Effective communications is everything to a successful B2B influencer engagement. Whoever is responsible for directly engaging influencers and managing the relationships must have the ability to work with all types of people from high profile industry celebrities to introverted subject matter experts that don’t identify as influencers at all – even though they are. Communications is also about every point of contact from how the influencer outreach is conducted to how activation asks are made to how ongoing engagement is done.

Failure to communicate with empathy and relevance during the first outreach can turn influencers off as much as asking too much too soon or clearly not having done research on who the influencer is and what they are most passionate about.

Best practice: Do the homework to understand influencers before doing outreach. Understand their motivations and how a collaboration will help the influencer vs. only thinking about what’s in it for the B2B brand. Once an influencer has agreed to collaborate, make it easy and enjoyable for them to do so. Set expectations, be organized and helpful, share progress of the program and feedback about their contributions. Most of all, plan for some kind of ongoing communication to keep the relationship warm so the next activation is something the influencer looks forward to vs. only engaging influencers when you need them.

There are many ways to do influencer marketing wrong in B2B, but these are some of the most common ways we see B2B marketers sabotaging their own success. It comes down to understanding that influencers are people with emotions, goals, problems and a desire to be part of something bigger than themselves. Successful Influencer Marketing is also a relationship business, not simply a transaction. When B2B marketers can add a greater level of expertise, empathy and skill to influencer engagement, they will often see how impressive the results for everyone involved can be.

The post 5 Ways B2B Marketers Sabotage Influencer Marketing Success appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.