The rise of the B2B influencer
By Dominik Jones
W hat do you think of when you hear the word ‘influencer’?
When looking at the B2B space, chances are that big names like Gary Vee or Simon Sinek might be the first ones that spring to mind.
Marketing campaigns associated with recognised personalities can have considerable reach and influence, with a 2022 report finding that 86% of B2B marketers have had successful experiences of working with influencers.
Although these well-known, outspoken figures might be out of reach for many marketers, there are a wide range of B2B influencers out there that can help your business to raise its profile, enhance its reputation and build credibility.
So, what exactly is a B2B influencer?
Simply put, a B2B influencer is an individual who holds significant authority, expertise, or influence in a specific industry or niche. Their value from a marketing perspective is to inform, educate, and help engage with an audience. They come in various forms and marketing teams may want to work with them for different reasons.
Here are some that you might come across:
These influencers already hold credibility in the field in which they work and have a wealth of industry-specific knowledge at their disposal. Companies may work with them for purposes other than marketing. But their ‘independence’ can add weight and an impartial voice to a brand’s marketing efforts.
Esteemed professors and academic researchers can act as B2B influencers who can offer objective assessments and data-backed insights. This is particularly valuable for start-ups that may be challenging a market with a product that has no existing credibility.
Journalists and analysts
Let’s not forget that industry commentators, such as journalists and analysts are still hugely influential in the B2B world. Their articles, blogs and social media posts can elevate a company’s reputation and influence stakeholders’ perceptions. Much like independent consultants, journalists and analysts tend to be well-informed, trusted figures in their respective sectors.
How can a B2B influencer benefit your business?
Unlike B2C influencers who often openly collaborate with the brands they endorse, B2B influencers tend to maintain greater independence. This independence is what lends weight to their recommendations, helping build trust between businesses and their target audience.
Importantly, these influencers bring a human touch to B2B interactions, which adds personality and authenticity to a brand’s image. This “human” element creates stronger emotional connections between your brand and potential clients, partners, and other industry figures.
B2B influencers can bridge the gap between businesses and their target audience. By sharing valuable insights, industry trends and insider knowledge, they facilitate meaningful conversations.
B2B influencers tend to maintain greater independence. This independence is what lends weight to their recommendations, helping build trust between businesses and their target audience.
So where can your business start?
Getting started with a B2B influencer doesn’t have to be complicated. Often businesses are already working with many of these influencers, and if not, they will have certainly identified some through platforms like LinkedIn, or in-person events – it might just a case of asking them to do that little bit more to help your business get its message out.
If this is not the case, it would be well worth reviewing the landscape and seeing who your target audience is engaging with before reaching out to them. Who are the keynote speakers at events your prospective customers attend and the big voices on social media? Would they be willing to comment on an industry discussion paper you are producing or speak at an event you are organising?
There is always the option to create your own influencer too. Do you have passionate leader in the business that can speak well and engage an audience? If so, you could look to boost their profile and turn them into an industry thought leader. By cultivating trust in them, you can bolster the broader business reputation. You can see an example of this in our case study, where we raised the profile of TopCV’s Amanada Augustine.
An in-house influencer can then become your brand advocate and speak on panels, podcasts, social media platforms, and much more. This can be a fantastic way of helping your brand to connect with your audience.
A little closer to our own industry, PR influencer Rob Mayhew is beloved of PRs everywhere for his ‘what it’s really like’ sketches on agency life. His increasing influence has been recognised by brands who are now collaborating with him on their own campaigns.
Whether you’re looking at creating your own in-house influencer, or searching further afield, there are many different ways to approach working with B2B influencers – all of which can benefit your brand. If you ever need any support doing this, feel free to get in touch. We have lots of experience across multiple sectors and would love to help.
Dominik is a trainee account executive, based in the Manchester office