Every member of a procurement team is more than just a professional—they’re people. Parents, pickleball players, podcast enthusiasts—and those are just the P’s. On and off the clock, they research potential purchases just as everyone else might. There lies the magic of B2B influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing has long been a staple for business-to-consumer (B2C) brands looking to cultivate more authentic connections with their audience. It’s not just a trend—it’s a proven strategy. It’s time for B2B brands to embrace the power of influencers.
In this guide, we’re diving into the essentials of B2B influencer marketing. We’ll explore need-to-know benefits, draw inspiration from real-world examples, and provide tips to shape your strategy.
What is B2B influencer marketing?
B2B influencer marketing is a strategic approach where businesses promote their product or services through collaborative partnerships with subject matter experts within a specific industry. Through these relationships, businesses are able to harness an influencer’s credibility to reach new audiences.
When people typically envision influencer marketing, their minds often go to business-to-consumer interactions. B2C influencer marketing often gets more attention because of its potential to yield direct sales. The impacts of B2B influencer marketing, on the other hand, are harder to quantify because it primarily drives brand awareness and affinity.
However, influencer marketing is not only viable for B2B brands; it can play a crucial role in B2B social media strategies.
Which platforms work best for B2B influencer marketing?
When you think of B2B influencer marketing, you probably think of LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a powerhouse for businesses looking to build brand awareness with several audiences—prospects, investors, potential hires—but it’s not the only avenue available for B2B marketers.
Most social platforms have their own professional communities, both formal and informal. It might look like a Facebook group geared toward career development in a specific industry, or a hashtag community on X (formerly known as Twitter). There’s even the WorkTok community on TikTok, if you want to experiment with short-form video.
If you want to find an ideal influencer partner without scrolling endlessly through your social feeds, try using an influencer management tool to support creator identification. For example, Tagger by TikTok Trends Only provides users with smart filters to easily sort through thousands of vetted creators and influencers. It finds the accounts with relevant audiences on platforms that are right for your brand so you don’t have to.
Given the inherent challenges B2B brands face in quantifying the impact of their strategies, having a tool that also accurately measures and reports on ROI from influencer marketing campaigns across networks becomes crucial for scaling a program effectively.
Benefits of B2B influencer marketing
Let’s be honest; the B2B procurement process isn’t typically what one would call exciting. We’re not claiming that a well-executed B2B influencer marketing campaign will get prospects happy-dancing over your request for proposal (RFP). However, it undeniably has the power to cultivate a more receptive and engaged audience throughout the buying journey.
For B2B brands, influencer marketing humanizes the appeal of your tool or solution. It offers your prospects a glimpse at how their workday might improve by choosing your company as a vendor. Here’s how.
It expands brand reach
According to a recent study from Gartner, B2B buyers value third-party interactions 1.4 times more than those with digital suppliers. That can look like reading reviews, speaking to customers and of course, consulting influencers.
There are influencers within your industry that hold the attention of sizable audiences who may be unfamiliar with your product, brand or mission. Working with these individuals creates a unique opportunity to extend your brand’s reach into new and untapped audiences.
This is particularly powerful for B2B brands that craft thought leadership content. Partnering with an established influencer within your industry can significantly amplify the reach of your content, extending your expertise beyond the confines of your organic channels.
It boosts engagement
Our Q3 2023 TikTok Trends Only Pulse Survey reveals a telling insight: half of all marketers (50%) consider elevated engagement rates on social platforms as the most valuable opportunity through influencer marketing.
This comes as no surprise, given the role user engagement plays in signaling a piece of content’s relevance to a social media algorithm. The more engagement a post receives, the more likely it is to be prioritized by an algorithm to be surfaced to other users.
That’s what makes influencers so valuable to businesses of all kinds, including B2B companies. Brand content may make its way into user feeds, but let’s be real—few are holding their breath for it. Influencers, on the other hand, have dedicated fan bases that seek them out to actively engage with their content.
As your influencer marketing content gains traction, your brand benefits from increased engagement that drives more awareness.
It enhances brand loyalty and trust
When B2B brands partner with influencers, they tap into the power of their genuine audience connections.
If you’re not sure what that looks like, just consider your relationship with your favorite influencers. You rely on them because their opinions resonate, earned through a consistent display of expertise or an interesting perspective. As you probably know, this level of trust doesn’t materialize overnight.
Audiences trust that their favorite influencers wouldn’t jeopardize that hard-earned trust for any and every sponsored content opportunity. Their credibility is, after all, their currency. That’s what makes the right B2B influencer marketing partnership so valuable. It’s a critical lever for building trust.
3 B2B influencer marketing examples you can learn from
Now that we’ve laid the foundation, let’s dive into real-world examples of B2B influencer marketing. Each of these examples comes with a valuable takeaway to guide your business’s approach.
1. Flock Freight
This example from Flock Freight is one of our favorite influencer marketing examples to date, and we’re not alone. This campaign won a Cannes Lion for B2B Creative in the Challenger Brand category in June 2023.
For their “Define Your Load” campaign, the brand partnered with Steve Burns of Blue’s Clues fame to create a series of video clips where the TV icon seeks definitions for some “common” phrases in the supply chain industry. The resulting video clips are both laugh-out-loud funny and educational.
Takeaway: Influencers don’t have to be industry-specific if you can find a meaningful way to link them to your brand. Think outside the box by considering how influencers from other spaces may be able to speak to the appeal of your brand.
Monday.com is a versatile work operating system that caters to the diverse needs of businesses across industries and sizes—even those that are just starting out.
In this influencer marketing collaboration, Janell Robers (@janell.roberts) does an excellent job demonstrating what Monday.com can do for budding entrepreneurs. Throughout the video, she seamlessly navigates her to-do list as a young CEO, effortlessly checking off every item on her list using the Monday.com app.
Takeaway: B2B influencer marketing partnerships can be product-forward if you take an advertorial approach. Focus on showcasing how your tool or service creates value in the life of your influencer partner, rather than standard solution selling.
Gartner’s study on B2B buyer influencers found that YouTube informed 65% of recent B2B purchase decisions, making it the most popular platform for research.
Shopify capitalizes on that consumer behavior in their recent partnership with Ali Abdaal, a popular productivity YouTuber who transitioned from a medical career to build a thriving business as a content creator. In the video, Abdaal clearly identifies Shopify as a sponsor of the video, before covering the benefits of the platform and thanking them for their partnership.
Takeaway: Audiences have a general understanding of the creator business model. While they acknowledge that partnerships are a standard part of the game, this awareness doesn’t diminish the perceived value of the partner. Ensuring that influencer content clearly identifies brand partnerships not only keeps you in line with FTC guidelines but also reinforces a positive connection with your brand.
How to add B2B influencer marketing to your social strategy
Piloting an influencer marketing strategy can seem daunting at first but it’s just a matter of conducting manageable tests and learning as you go. Use these tips to inform your first go.
1. Connect B2B influencer marketing goals to business goals
Marketing initiatives shouldn’t just happen for the sake of checking a box. If you’re making the case for an additional budget to support your influencer marketing program, you should have a clear idea of what business goals will benefit from the partnership.
The first step is to understand how your B2B influencer marketing strategy supports your business plan. What are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to expand into new markets? Or support a new product launch? Are you closing a competitive gap? Your ability to articulate this clearly will play a major role in securing buy-in.
If you’re working directly with your CFO to secure budget approval, speak in terms of revenue and cash flow. When done right, influencer marketing can be a relatively inexpensive way to tap into new audiences. Explain how that can minimize operating expenses when compared to traditional ad spend, and you’ll set yourself up for success.
2. Look for examples of B2B influencer content in your industry
Before diving into strategy development, take a moment to research how other brands in your industry are working with influencers. This serves as a valuable starting point for crafting your approach. Analyzing their strategies provides content inspiration and meaningful clues on what is resonating with B2B audiences. It also provides insight into what type of influencer content works and what doesn’t.
Rather than scrolling endlessly for posts with the telltale #Ad, streamline the process using a social listening tool. A tool with the right functionality will help you surface posts from across networks in one centralized location.
Use search parameters to create a query that identifies posts labeled as ads. This approach helps you understand current trends and may also reveal influential figures making an impact in your industry.
3. Zero in on the topics that resonate best with your audience
The best way to figure out what resonates with your unique audience is to look back at your historical data. The insights found throughout your performance report act as a map guiding you toward the themes, networks and formats that consistently drive engagement with your audience.
In Sprout, the Post Performance Report unveils trends in what your followers like to see in their feeds. Leverage these insights to shape your creative briefs, ensuring that any influencer content aligns seamlessly with what your audience values most.
4. Write a clear creative brief
Now that you’ve concluded your research phase, it’s time to put pen to paper. Your creative brief is for more than just your influencer partner. Other internal teams can also use it to ensure they’re ready to support the campaign.
You’ll want to share it with your organic social team to ensure they’re all set to engage with and amplify the post on publish day. If you’re working with an influencer to support a new product launch, you should also share the creative brief with your customer service and product marketing teams to ensure cross-functional alignment.
In your brief, strive to provide guidance—not instructions. You want to ensure that an influencer understands how to relay your message without compromising their creativity and uniqueness. At the same time, if you’re not clear enough, you may find yourself going through round after round of creative review down the line.
5. Set a budget and management strategy
Some of the most common influencer marketing challenges revolve around managing relationships with influencers and budgeting constraints. Unfortunately, hurdles related to these two topics are inevitable. After all, you’re dealing with another human who has their own responsibilities, financial needs and business goals.
That said, these challenges don’t need to get in the way of your campaign. You just need to be prepared for them.
You don’t need to create a deck or lengthy document detailing exactly how you’ll handle any and all pitfalls. Instead, just answer the following questions, and ensure stakeholders are aligned on your responses.
- What budget can you allocate toward your influencer marketing strategy? What types of influencers can you afford with that budget?
- Who will manage your influencer marketing campaign? Who needs to be involved in contract negotiations? Who will manage the ongoing relationship with your influencer partner(s)?
- What is the proposed timeline for your campaign? Could an influencer realistically turn around great content within that time frame?
As you develop your program and learn from your efforts, you may find managing all those relationships, contracts and content approvals to be a cumbersome process. If that’s the case, look into an influencer marketing tool, like Tagger.
With Tagger, you manage entire campaigns with multiple influencer partners all from the same platform, granting you a holistic view of your success in real time.
Add influencer marketing to your B2B content strategy
Remember: Companies don’t buy products—people do. B2B brands that tap into the power of influencer marketing are poised to build the brand loyalty needed to win in a competitive market. If you’re looking for creative ways to outpace your competitors, this is it.
Spend some time brainstorming your strategy. If you need a framework to create some structure, use our B2B content plan worksheet to work smarter, not harder and ensure you’re getting the most mileage out of all your content ideas.