Spokespeople. Brand advocates. Experts. Sponsors. Thought Leaders. Influencers. Call them what you will, but leveraging the voices, expertise, appeal, and reach of influential people has been a standard marketing and advertising practice for at least a century. In the B2C realm, that is.
As TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden recently pointed out: “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.”
In fact, recent research shows that an impressive 48% of B2C influencer programs are ongoing, however, just 11% of B2B influencer programs are always-on. But on the flip side, research also shows that interest and commitment are growing. In fact, 65% of multinational brands will increase influencer marketing spending in the next 12 months, reaching $10 billion over the next five years.
So, how do we reconcile the different worlds these statistical snapshots create? From my perspective, it all comes down to perceived value. B2B marketers, who have the difficult task of nurturing buyers through a long and winding sales cycle, want to ensure that a traditionally B2C tactic can drive the kind of results they need and want.
In a digital landscape that’s bursting with content, bubbling with consumer distrust, and growing demand for personalization—influencer collaborations offer enormous value and benefits. But don’t just take my word for it; take it from influencer marketing leaders at a range of B2B brands.
Benefit #1: Influencers help you build a narrative of trust.
From security scandals and privacy concerns to consumers’ dwindling confidence in the world’s core institutions, consumer trust is on the downslide. That general distrust coupled with an historical skepticism of marketing and advertising messages makes it imperative that B2B marketers work to build genuine trust and credibility with buyers and prospects.
When you co-create content with influencers, you not only provide influential experts with a medium to share valuable insights, but can also provide your audience with a mix of perspectives—upping your storytelling capabilities and credibility.
“Year over year, we’ve seen consumer trust of brands decreasing, and people turning to seemingly more objective sources when making buying decisions: peers, third-party review sites, analysts, etc.” Whitney Magnuson, Global Head of Social Media and Influencer Programs at IBM, told us not long ago. “Partnering with an influencer allows you to highlight your brand’s own existing narrative in a new way, so that you can reinforce the proof points you really want your customers to know.”
Partnering with an #influencer allows you to highlight your brand’s own existing narrative in a new way, so that you can reinforce the proof points you really want your customers to know. @whitneymagnuson @IBMSystems…