How do you find B2B influencers?

How do you find B2B influencers?

Think influencer marketing is just for consumer brands? Think again. While the likes of Zoella and Thatcher Joe rake it in by charging over £10,000 for a single Instagram post, the returns are rather dubious and the audience is tiring of such persistent promoted content. Yet, the lesser-known world of influencer marketing for B2B is on the rise, and its much more subtle approach is proving both longevity and returns.

Who are they?

Influencers in the B2B space aren’t likely to be your typical YouTuber or Instagram personality (although, never say never). Instead, they are journalists, politicians, authors, fellow business leaders, podcasters, celebrities, and revered scientists. Our latest Tyto Tech 500 Power List for 2019, for example, found business leaders are the most influential group; they are most respected for being right in the thick of it (see main image: Top row from left to right: Sir Richard Branson, Emma Jones, Russell Quirk, Jacqueline de Rojas. Bottom row from left to right: Lilach Bullock, Brent Hoberman, Anne Boden, Dave Chaffey.)

Unlike celebrities, journalists, and politicians, business leaders are on the ground, making decisions, and therefore best placed to recommend products and services.

David Clare

Finding your B2B influencers requires a thoughtful approach. Anyone can enter a search term into Twitter and find those talking about it with the most followers. But in a world where 1,000 followers can be bought for $10, is this a real measure of influence? Going back to our Tech 500 Power List, our method combined personal social influence (a combination of LinkedIn and Twitter), business authority (website or blog authority), industry support (conference keynote appearances) and earned media (named in the media coverage) to find a balanced and objective ranking of influence.

Not just the ‘who’ but the ‘why’

Such a nuanced approach is required not only to understand who is an influencer, but also why. It shows whether a person’s influence is purely online, offline, or a combination of the two (the latter being the ideal). It will also provide insight into how they can be approached and what your strategy should be in engaging them for promoting your brand.

A regular speaker or columnist will be working to a schedule, so learn their whereabouts and plans, and make your proposal work with their agenda.

B2B is harder to measure

Perhaps the trickiest part of B2B influencer marketing is measurement.

For B2C, where products take less financial commitment and the purchasing decision is made in a matter of hours, if not minutes, a quick uptick in sales can be easily attributed to the activation of an influencer marketing campaign. Add in ecommerce and all the tracking this allows, and you’re ROI is transparent as glass.

In business, decisions take much longer (sometimes years) and are rarely as simple as ‘adding to cart’ – so tracking is much more opaque.

When you run a B2B influencer marketing campaign make sure to inform the entire team, especially the sales team. It is important that everyone in your business can not only talk about the affiliation with the influencer but understand why too. You will also rely on anecdotal feedback from the sales team, who should be prompted to ask how the lead became interested – anyone who mentions the influencer quickly shows a clear ROI.

Most importantly though, B2B influencer marketing is all about the thought process put in right at the beginning. There is no cookie-cutter approach; it is bespoke to you, your business, and the influencers you choose to work with.

Take your time, get it right, and when you do, pass on the wisdom by influencing fellow marketers about influencer marketing.