Social media influencers have become a centrepiece of B2C marketing strategies, B2B brands are starting to follow suit. 

A 2017 study by Chief Marketer showed that 75% of all marketers are using Influencer marketing and 43% plan to increase their spend in the next year. Yet in a recent study by MaketingProfs, only 15% of B2B marketers said they are running influencer campaigns.

In spite of this significant imbalance, B2B marketers are increasingly looking to incorporate Influencers into their strategies. Before they can successfully do so, however, they first must have an understanding of the purpose, and the approach they need to use.

Influencer campaigns are a great way to hit buyers at the research stage of the buying journey. Research by Forbes has found that 87% of B2B buyers give more credit to content created by influencers in their industry, this would not be posted on Instagram, YouTube etc but educational materials such as LinkedIn posts, videos, podcasts, e-books and product/service testimonials.

This Influencer could be an internal subject matter expert, influential community member, industry recognised author or industry-specific analyst or consultant.

I regularly use influencers in my personal & work life. This can be wishing to buy a certain makeup tool or brand - I usually check if any of the influencer accounts I follow on social media have posted a review on a certain product and find out their thoughts on it. Usually, if they haven't or if I can't see any mention of the product from any of the influencers I follow I do not buy it! 

Remember, B2B buyers are human too, and the B2B purchase journey is becoming much closer in similarity to the emotionally-led B2C purchase. B2B decision makers are still driven by the same influences and motivations as in their everyday life, and community influencers are part of that (the clue is in the name).

Influencer marketing can easily go wrong though! For instance last year, Snickers decided to leverage their #You'reNotYouWhenYou'reHungry campaign using celebrities across Twitter. Their idea was to get celebrities to tweet lots of out of character tweets, for example they tweeted a number of slightly obscure political statements from…. Katie Price. Even Rio Ferdinand joined in tweeting saying he could not wait to knit a cardigan after training! All the celebrities that were used then finished the obscure tweets with a picture of them with a Snickers bar with the tagline #You'reNotYouWhenYou'reHungry.

On paper, this seems like a great idea. In reality, however, it caused massive confusion across social media, with many not getting the joke and believing that all these celebrities accounts had been hacked.. While the company did not get fined for the campaign the damage was already done, with some of the celebrities followers left with a bad view of Snickers!

Despite that, it’s obvious that influencer marketing is on the rise in B2B, and if done correctly it can be a highly effective tool for brands.