We’ve all been there – scrolling through our social feeds and a well-known celebrity, or industry spokesperson, stops us in our scrolling tracks to explain how our lives will be better with this one tool or gadget. I’m the first to admit that I’ve been a victim of really great salesmanship by industry influencers that I follow and respect – and for the most part it’s worked out.
Why is it that influencers are so convincing? Influencers have worked hard to grow their following and build trust and credibility with their audience. They tend to do so by being authentic, consistent and transparent. That transparency is crucial as it helps them to maintain trust with their highly engaged follower base. It’s true that many associate influencers with consumer brands but the power of these trusted and relied upon experts extends to B2B as well.
To Engage or Not to Engage
Determining when and how to establish a relationship with an influencer is something almost every company will contemplate at some point. A recent study found that 86% of B2B brands found success with influencer marketing. So, the big question is: when is the right time for you?Let’s take a look at the Pros and Cons as our first step.
A few pros for engaging with influencers:
- Increased Visibility – Influencers bring a large, targeted following and partnering with them can help companies to reach a wider audience.
- Multi-Channel Offerings – Influencers engage with their audience in a number of ways: social media, podcasts, webinars, published articles, etc. The right influencer will tailor a package to meet the needs of your program – this customization is key to success.
- Credibility – Knowledgeable and trustworthy are two words that go hand in hand with influencers. When they promote a product, they are giving an implied endorsement and their followers are more likely to trust that the product works.
- Brand Building – Influencers can create content that highlights the unique features and benefits of a product or service; this can help to create a strong brand identity.
- 3rd Party Feedback – When influencers test out your product or service you are able to gather invaluable input, helping to make it more appealing to end users.
On the flipside: some things to be aware of before jumping in:
- High Costs – Partnering with influencers can be costly and the ROI may not be worth it. Ensuring that an influencer’s follower base is aligned with your target market is one way to alleviate this concern.
- Unauthentic promotion – If an influencer promotes a tech product that they don’t actually use or believe in it can come across negatively.
- Negative publicity – if a product is promoted that turns out to be faulty, it could backfire and be harmful for the reputation of the company – and the influencer.
Micro vs. Mega
Certainly, if you’re a startup or early-stage tech company then costs are key and determining how to spread your marketing dollars strategically is what keeps you up at night. In this case, micro influencers may be the way to go. Micro influencers come with all the same benefits of their mega counterparts, but they have two key differences: smaller but highly engaged following and greater accessibility. Now back to our study – when asked about the top qualities of an influencer, 98% of survey respondents said that ‘relevance of audience’ is the most important quality.
Micro influencers have a very specific niche audience, and they are experts in their field – and likewise highly respected and trusted. This micro influencer category is becoming increasingly popular as they offer a more targeted and cost-effective alternative – and they are more willing to collaborate with smaller businesses.
What Do You Do Now?
Not all companies should engage with influencers – the decision comes down to your goals, your target audience and your budget. If micro or mega influencers align with these factors, then you’ve identified an extremely effective strategy for building that next level of visibility and credibility.