by Alicia Esposito, Content Strategist
If it seems like you can’t read about B2B marketing trends without seeing a mention of influencer marketing, you wouldn’t be far off. Influencer marketing is one of (if not the) hottest trends, encouraging B2B marketers to rethink the way they create and share content.
That’s why over the past year we’ve seen a real influencer marketing boom. In 2018 alone, 79% of marketing decision-makers said they would invest in influencer marketing — with 43% planning to invest more than they did in 2017, according to OnBrand Magazine.
But with this increased investment comes a more penetrated market. As more and more brands invest in influencer content and campaign strategies, will it ultimately lose its impact? Will it ultimately be worth the investment? Here are a few things to know about influencer marketing:
Your buyers want it...
Since the inception of its Content Preferences Survey, Demand Gen Report has emphasized that B2B marketers must “curb the sales speak” in order for their content to resonate with buyers. This year’s results note that more buyers than ever (78%) are paying closer attention to the trustworthiness of content sources and 65% prefer credible content from industry influencers. It’s certainly valid for B2B marketers to worry about jumping on an already crowded bandwagon, but in this case, it’s clear that buyers’ demand for influencer content isn’t changing anytime soon.
…But they can smell phony a mile away.
It takes far more than a famous face to build brand buzz and boost content performance. Your content and campaign must tell a story that is relevant and impactful to your audience. Most of all, it must be authentic! This is mainly a problem in the B2C world. YouTube stars and bloggers promote products and brands that don’t align with their lifestyle and their social content and videos seem forced and overly staged. In B2B, brands must ensure that the influencers they onboard make sense for their business and the story they’re trying to tell. If you’re shelling out thousands of dollars just to feature a well-known expert or social media star in your campaign, you may be disappointed by the results you see.
It can be expensive…
Sure, brands in our world may not hire a Kardashian for their next campaign, but it can still cost a pretty penny to have a relevant expert write a guest column for an E-book or participate in a podcast. Before you think too big with your next campaign idea, take a hard look at your audience, whose input they’d value and whether there are any more approachable experts to tap. For example, you could onboard channel or services partners to contribute to thought leadership assets or ask clients to answer quick Q&As for a best-practices guide. Many times, even recognized authors, consultants and speakers would be happy to participate in a campaign if the fit is right, so never let the possibility of a fee deter you from reaching out. You may be surprised by the response you get!
…But it provides a lot of content fuel.
The goal for every marketer today is to get the most value out of every content investment. For every influencer you interview, you gain a wealth of insights that you can leverage for Big Rock E-books, checklist, podcasts, blogs and so much more. This is where planning is critical. Before you even begin your outreach, sketch out what your influencer program will look like. How long with the campaign last? How many assets do you want to create? What topics will you touch on and when? Within this blueprint in place, you’ll be able to communicate your goals and intentions to influencers and show your internal stakeholders that you’re not onboarding (or paying) influencers for a one-off project.
Of course, before you develop a robust campaign plan or start sending email pitches to influencers, ask some initial questions about whether influencer marketing is a fit for your brand and for your audience. Is this something your buyers want? Because one thing’s for sure: Despite the hype surrounding influencer marketing, there’s no sign that this bubble is about to burst.
Learn more about the trends you can leverage to connect with your buyers in Content4Demand’s 2018 Content Preferences Survey Report.