5 types of influencers in B2B marketing

How do B2B companies like ThyssenKrupp, T-Systems or IBM market their products? An effective way to convince customers of their own services is offered by Influencer Marketing in the B2B area. But which B2B influencer types are there? What are their specifics?

16th Aug 2019
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1. Corporate Influencer


A) The Social CEO


"People who save lives should not be arrested. People who kill, incite and promote hate and mischief should be arrested. "As the head of a major German company, Siemens boss Joe Kaeser took a clear stance on the rescue of Sea Watch captain Carola Rackete and criticized her arrest with a tweet on the 30th of June.


Joe Kaeser is the prime example of a social CEO, who also takes an aggressive position on social issues. 


With this post, he reached within a month, 5,200 likes, 904 retweets and 422 comments. His statement was so powerful that economic and national media such as the world, Wirtschaftswoche and the time reported on it.


The self-tweeting chief executive is thus one of the few top managers of German companies whose influence extends far beyond the boundaries of their industry, since they are not only experts in their fields of expertise, but also express themselves on social and political issues.


Not every business leader feels well looked after in open networks. But - supported by its own communication department - the CEO can initiate discussions via Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram, present opinions and provide audio bulletins - for all interested parties, the followers, but also for the media. And that applies to SMEs as well as to DAX companies.


B) Employees as company ambassadors


However, to convey a comprehensive picture of a company, it is not enough if it is represented solely by senior management. When it comes to expertise, it makes more sense, depending on objective and industry, to set up corporate influencers from the respective departments. 


Especially in the field of recruiting, the use of staff as influencers is an ideal way to give applicants an authentic insight. Especially today's candidate generation checks the social media platforms of potential new employers - a convincing performance is so crucial.


Thyssenkrupp for example, shows how this challenge can be met: Already since 2016, the industrial group has provided Instagram with an instant insight into the daily work routine of its employees in its career account. 


Anyone who also wants to work on his appearance in the social networks should therefore first seek the dialogue with suitable teams. Why not just let the trainees take over the account? Sharing on private profiles should also be expressly allowed.


2. Event ambassador as influencer


Is it still worthwhile to visit the leading event of my industry? Have you missed out on other, more specialized events? Or am I better served with the "in-house fair" of a market-leading company? In the B2B sector, specialist events that meet the decision makers in the industry play a key role. 


The more digital the communication in everyday life, the more important the personal meeting face to face. However, decision makers have a limited time budget and events abound in every industry. 


Organizers should therefore take advantage of the opportunity to set up Ambassador programs in which they include important multipliers in their sector. The brand ambassadors of the event will be involved as speakers and receive further benefits in the course of the events, for example, more visibility and coverage via the channels of the organizer. 


In return for these, mostly non-financial services, they promote the event through their (digital) networks. For Ambassador programs, however, care should be taken to ensure that both partners benefit equally from the cooperation.


3. Use your own clientele as an influencer


When promoting a new product, reference customers are the perfect influencers. Who could give better information about functionality, quality and concrete application than the customer?


A successful example of this is provided by Time Warner Business Class, a provider of business services and business communication tools. To demonstrate the importance of the service to their customers' success, the company used them as video testimonials. 


As part of the campaign, customers showed in videos how they achieved their goals thanks to technology. The posts all ended with a call to download an e-book from Time Warner Business Class. These were subsequently extended online via YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.


4. Use B2B influencers from user groups


In the B2B segment, Influencer Marketing works a little differently than addressing private customers. The reason for this is independence and one's own reputation, which is the highest asset for B2B influencers. Therefore, if in doubt, they will think it over three times before jeopardizing them for a compromised partnership with a company.


A good example of this is a manufacturer of disinfectants. This distributed test packages of a hygiene article to employees who used them during their daily work several times a day. Through this interactive approach, the relation to the product could be further strengthened compared to the previously used. For example, with a competition between the departments during the cold period: Who was the best disinfected and thus had the fewest sick days won!


5. Influencer with expertise

Who is more likely to explain a complex topic than a true specialist in the field? This idea was also shared by the technology group Voith. Together with external energy experts, the leading full-service provider of hydro power plant equipment organized the #DiscoverHydropower Tour, which aims to raise awareness about hydro power through an unconventional approach. For this B2B campaign, the experts traveled to technically very impressive hydro power plants in Portugal, Scotland and Iceland.


The event enables a technically and generally relevant content mix, which was distributed by influencers in the form of live videos, stories and postings. In addition, video material was created with the help of a professional film crew, which also generated additional buzz in the aftermath.


The result was more than 350 posts with over one million impressions. In return for participation, the company offered its influencers not only high-quality content but also new ideas and networking opportunities.


Conclusion


For B2B companies, there are many and useful ways to work with influencers. However, in order to make projects successful, companies should first specify in detail which type of influencer they need, what they expect from the influencers, and what they can offer to the influencers. My advice :


  • 1. Find influencers in the first step in-house!
  • 2. Do not pay for contributions - make sure that posts are published out of conviction.
  • 3. Create incentives to "influence"
  • 4. Do not measure success within reach, but on whether their influencers reach the intended target group.
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