Transactional campaign approaches are hard pressed to develop brand loyalty and advocacy. That’s why, with 84% of B2B marketers focused on building brand awareness with their influencer marketing efforts, that ongoing influencer engagement has become essential for creating vested relationships that inspire more qualitative activations and brand advocacy.
The Engine of Influence needs to run ongoing in order to win relationships with the most trusted voices. Our findings amongst B2B marketers have found several interesting insights when it comes to an Always-On approach to influencer relations compared to campaigns, the best practices followed and what Always-On influence in action really looks like.
Influencer Marketing is a Relationship Business
Distractions and competition for attention with B2B customers are at an all-time high. At the same time, B2B marketers are challenged to find the right strategies to maximize resources and marketing impact. Our research found that 76% of B2B marketers find the strategy of working with influencers through Always-On engagement or a combination of Always-On and campaigns, delivers results.
In the world of business, many decisions are made based on emotion, brand strength and the trust of expert voices. B2B marketers who build relationships with trusted experts understand the value of having brand advocates engage authentically with hard to reach audiences that increasingly discount brand communications. An Always-On approach to influencer marketing provides a framework for finding, engaging and elevating relationships with those very experts that customers trust and want to hear from.
The Always-On Imperative for B2B Brands
In today’s uncertain environment, brand reach and credibility are more important than ever. Some of the top B2B brands in the world have invested in developing communities of industry experts through Always-On influencer marketing that they can count on for social engagement, event activations, and brand advocacy.
Our research found that B2B marketers using an Always-On influencer marketing strategy are seeing important benefits including:
75% Increased views of brand content
60% Increased share of voice
55% Increased media mentions of brand
50% Increased brand advocacy
Buyers want to trust the brands they work with and with brand trust at a low, it’s important for B2B companies to invest in relationships with credible experts that buyers do trust.
Being “always-on” has allowed our team to build meaningful relationships with influencers. This approach means that the relationship ceases to be “transactional” (what can you do for us) when we’re in a state of ongoing activity. Because of this foundation, we are in a situation where, when urgency strikes, we’ve been able to immediately activate influencers, whether it be for private, direct, unfiltered feedback and consult, or for external, public-facing advocacy and amplification. B2B brands would be wise to adopt an always-on influencer engagement approach as they look to build true brand advocates. Garnor Morantes, Group Marketing Manager, LinkedIn
To learn about how LinkedIn built trust and advocacy with Always-On Influence and achieving promising results including:
Nearly 2,000 brand mentions by influencers and their networks
84M in potential reach from brand mentions by influencers
200-450% above benchmark engagement on one social influencer activation
Alway-On Influencer Marketing is the practice of ongoing relationship building, engagement and activation of a specified group of influencers to build community, content and brand advocacy that is of mutual value to the brand, its customers and the influencers.
From a confidence standpoint, 94% of B2B marketers using an Always-On influencer engagement strategy believe influencer marketing will grow in importance over the next 12 months vs. 73% of marketers who focus on campaigns.
That confidence is reflected in marketing budgets as well. 89% of B2B marketers implementing Always-On influencer programs expect their budgets to increase or remain the same vs. 73% for marketers running campaign based programs. 28% Always-On influencer programs spend more than $100,000 per year vs. 8% for marketers running campaigns.
Always On Influencer Marketing is a strategic approach to creating communities of trusted experts that is relationship and content focused.
Those relationships are nurtured over time through ongoing engagement and activations that create value for buyers, the brand and the influencers – it is truly an “everybody wins” approach to marketing.
Then Engine of Influence is Always-On
Influencer Marketing is a relationship business and an Always-On influencer engagement strategy helps B2B brands turn those connections with trusted experts into marketing results.
60% of B2B marketers who use Always-On Influencer Marketing programs are very successful vs. 5% who only use periodic campaigns.
Always-On Influencer Marketing elevates influencer engagement from mechanical to meaningful, from transactional to relationship focused. As a result, brands like LinkedIn are able to activate their community on-demand. “When urgency strikes, we’ve been able to immediately activate influencers,” says Garnor Morantes of LinkedIn,”B2B brands would be wise to adopt an always-on influencer engagement approach as they look to build true brand advocates.”
An Always-On Influencer Marketing strategy creates a win for everyone. With a framework that goes beyond influencer content marketing campaigns to partnering with industry experts to drive conversations and advocacy, an Always-On approach builds brand awareness, and inspires customers to trust and engage with the business.
Thought Leadership is often a concept associated with individuals but brands, especially in B2B, can develop their thought leadership amongst the customer community as well. Thought Leadership is important for brands and individuals alike because trust is an issue for companies as people navigate misinformation, changing sources and become more skeptical of what brands and their people say.
What is thought leadership in 2020? Beyond publishing articles, speaking and writing books, Thought Leadership is about creating a reputation for expertise and authority within an industry. The notion is that becoming known for an area of expertise creates trust which can lead to consideration, evaluation and influence purchase behavior.
In the B2B world, most influencers are thought leaders themselves since domain expertise is really an important part of what makes a business influencer trusted, respected, credible and interesting for others to follow.
B2B brands that want to elevate the thought leadership of their brand through executives can be a part of an Always-On Influencer Marketing program that combines points of view about key topics where both the industry influencer and brand executive are participants. When a brand executive is included in brand content created in collaboration with industry experts and thought leaders, it can start to change the perception of that brand executive to be seen as a thought leader themselves.
Partnering B2B brand executives and subject matter experts with industry influencers for Thought Leadership content provides multiple benefits:
Diverse voices from the industry and brand add credibility and quality to the content
The influence of industry experts elevates the influence of the brand executives
Influencers reputation is raised by association with thought leadership level content and the brand
The beauty of influencer content programs for thought leadership is that when brands build real relationships with industry thought leaders, they become partners that advocate for the brand as well as for the brand executives involved
“Partnering with influencers for thought leadership content can accelerate brand credibility and trust.”
So how can a B2B brand approach an integrated influencer marketing and thought leadership program? Here are 5 steps to start:
1. Define Thought Leadership Topics – The obvious starting point is clarity around how the brand wants to be known that reconciles with what the industry and customers care about. We often call these “best answer” topics because one of the goals of Thought Leadership and Influencer content is for the brand to become the best answer for customers. Defining these topics will drive every other step in the Influencer Marketing and Thought Leadership partnership.
2. Identify Influencers and Executives – Once a B2B brand determines topics of focus, it’s time to connect those topics to the most appropriate and relevant executives who will represent the brand’s thought leadership effort. At the same time, those topics will be used to identify and qualify relevant industry influencer partners to collaborate with. The minimum data points for influencer selection include topical relevance, topic resonance with the influencer’s community, network size, inventory of thought leadership content and experience, values alignment and publishing activities.
3. Create a Thought Leadership Content Collaboration Plan – To create meaningful and impactful Thought Leadership content with B2B brand executives and industry influencers, topics need to be mapped to contributors and content types, formats and channels need to be identified. A content calendar of opportunities is created, often integrating with planned content from marketing campaigns, public relations media relations efforts and corporate communications.
4. Publish and Promote – Collaborations manifest as content that will need a home whether it is the corporate website, blog, social channels, industry publications, research reports, marketing campaign assets, on influencer websites and social channels or in presentation content. Formats run the gamut from text to video to audio to interactive. Influencers and brand social channels alone are not enough for promotion of B2B Thought Leadership content. LinkedIn advertising offers excellent executive targeting capabilities as do other social networks and paid search platforms.
5. Always-On Influencer Engagement for Advocacy – Influencer Marketing is a relationship business and Thought Leadership content co-created with brand executives and influencers can be repurposed, giving influencers continued exposure. Other engagement actions as simple as social media interactions or as robust as future content collaborations provide influencers reason to invest in the success of the content and inspire organic advocacy for their brand executive partners as well as the brand itself.
What does the future of influencer marketing and thought leadership hold? Listen to what Janine Wegner, @JanineWegner Global Thought Leadership Program and Activation Manager at Dell Technologies (client) has to say:
“One of the key things to think about as businesses and academic institutions, is how can we introduce influencer marketing in combination with thought leadership as a key component with the marketing and business suite so people can actually be educated, get accredited or a degree. How does influencer marketing and thought leadership fit within the bigger marketing play and strategy. It’s an integrated part of the marketing play.”
Thought Leadership and Influencer Marketing represent a key partnership that can produce content that drives trust, reputation, reach and engagement – many of which are in short supply and highly valued by business customers.
What is brand research and why is it an important step in building a successful always-on B2B influencer marketing program? What are the key facts you need to learn about a brand that will lead to the creation of a strong ongoing influencer program?
Doing brand research right is crucial for always-on B2B influencer marketing success, but where do you start, especially with the increased importance of brand empathy and authenticity?
As a refresher, always-on influencer marketing is the practice of ongoing relationship-building, engagement and activation of a specified group of influencers to build community, content and brand advocacy.
Always-on marketing is a key facet of successful and award-winning campaigns according to new research from Cannes Lions and WARC, which have featured campaign duration as an important element in their new “Effectiveness Code” white paper research examining 5,000 award entrants and winners from 2011 through 2019.
“Even at low budgets, campaigns with longer durations and more media channels are more effective,” the Cannes Lions report notes.
“Overall, tactical campaigns with very short durations and small budgets tend to do poorly when judged on effectiveness. Just 51 percent of those campaigns converted to effectiveness award wins when entered,” the report added.
“As campaigns increase their spend, duration and number of media channels used, they become more effective. An optimum split of marketing investment is 60 percent for long-term brand building and 40 percent for short-term activation,” the report concluded, highlighting the effectiveness of always-on efforts.
Brand Research For Always-On B2B Influencer Marketing
B2B marketers have varying levels of experience with influencer marketing, from initial forays and testing the waters, to much more seasoned and mature approaches developed over many years of refinement.
A sophisticated B2B influencer marketing approach is based on a maturity model that includes conducting preliminary research about a brand to learn its needs, strengths, and weaknesses as it relates to the next steps of finding and connecting with potential influencers.
Let’s take a closer look at why brand research is important to successful always-on B2B influencer marketing programs, and at some of the methods a savvy brand-research strategy should include.
[bctt tweet=”A sophisticated B2B influencer marketing approach is based on a maturity model that includes conducting preliminary research about a brand to learn its needs, strengths, and weaknesses.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]
Why Brand Research is Key to Successful Always-On B2B Influencer Marketing Programs
Smart brand research adds a needed dose of the insight needed for building an always-on influencer marketing program that will feature the type of well-matched industry expert collaborations that achieve supreme relevance.
By building a robust understanding of a brand’s values, you’ll gain a significant advantage over those who charge straight ahead into beginning the process of gathering a list of potential influencers to work with a brand — another feature that sets continuing marketing programs apart from one-off campaigns.
Learning more about a brand is beneficial to all parties involved. You’ll be able to make more informed decisions when it comes time to seek out influencers, while those industry experts will benefit from the knowledge you’ve already gained about their potential brand client, and the brand itself will also be setting itself up for long-term ongoing B2B influencer marketing success.
“When you are more sophisticated and have more experience with this, you can hit the ground running and do certain things to help a business — such as doing a pilot — and you’ll start to see some of those metrics that will get attention from executive sponsorship, and win you more budget to roll out that program in a much more significant way,” Lee explained recently on a topic he has also explored in greater detail in “Trust in Marketing: How to Build Influence with the C-Suite and on the Street with Customers.”
Turning Brand Research Data Into Always-On Influence Success
With smart brand influencer research data in hand, moving on to the process of seeking the most relevant potential influencers packs an especially powerful wallop when you understand a brand’s shared objectives, intrinsic values, and its nuanced peculiarities.
As Lee has often noted, trust is a two-way street of multidimensional elements when it comes to influencer marketing, and as B2B marketers it’s important to recognize this during research and communication with both brands and potential influencers.
“If the brand is empathizing with the influencer, they’re not only finding out if they’re topically relevant for the thing they want to collaborate on, but also they understand the influencer’s motivations, their needs, their wants, their pain points, and the return on investment (ROI) to which a collaboration with a brand will help solve those things,” Lee observed.
Truly legitimate brand-influencer collaboration also ultimately leads to stronger customer and buyer trust, as a mature B2B influencer marketing initiative recognizes the importance of first identifying and defining what marketing problem a brand is trying to solve.
Here are 11 key questions to answer during your brand research, to help solve a brand’s key marketing problem and inform a robust and mature always-on B2B influencer marketing program:
1 — What about a brand is unique with what it stands for?
Learn what makes a brand unique with what it stands for, through outreach to key team-members the the brand, examining mission statements and any history documents the organization has made available, recent press mentions, and through customer sentiment investigations via various social channels.
2 — What about a brand is compelling — why does the brand matter?
What makes a brand compelling and why should people care about it? Finding information that helps answer these important questions will go a long way in defining an always-on B2B influencer marketing program for the brand, especially when it comes time to find industry experts who match the brand’s story, vision, and organizational outlook.
3 — What is the state of the brand’s overall awareness — where does it fit in among its intended audience?
Just as brands have varying levels of influencer marketing maturity, each organization also holds a unique spot in the eyes of its intended audience, and learning as much as you can about the brand’s overall level of audience awareness will help bolster your always-on influencer marketing efforts.
[bctt tweet=”Each brand holds a unique spot in the eyes of its intended audience, and learning as much as you can about the brand’s overall level of audience awareness will help bolster your always-on influencer marketing efforts.” @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]
4 — How is the brand perceived among its various stakeholders?
Not only the eyes of potential customers need to be taken into consideration when it comes to overall brand perception. Buyers, fans, and a variety of both internal and external stakeholders all have views on the brand that you can learn a great deal from by taking the time to research sentiment from each type of stakeholder.
This brand perception information then becomes useful throughout the influencer marketing strategy timeline.
5 — Where does the brand sit in its competitive landscape compared to those offering similar services or products?
Learning about a brand for an always-on influencer marketing program not only involves researching the organization, but examining its relevant competitive landscape.
A brand sitting atop its industry niche will have both advantages and disadvantages to consider, while a recently-launched startup can count on battling a different set of concerns — and seeing its own array of influencer marketing advantages. Having this data from early on in an always-on influencer marketing program will place your efforts ahead of those of others who take a pass on answering these important questions.
6 — How has the brand been performing both historically and recently?
Examining brand performance trend data can provide helpful insights for shaping a robust always-on influencer marketing program tailored specifically to the needs of the brand.
7 — Who are the brand’s stakeholders?
In addition to knowing how stakeholders perceive a brand, compiling a basic list of who its stakeholders are can fast-track potential influencer outreach and vetting activities when the time arrives.
As with many of these brand-research questions, asking a variety of people throughout an organization — and not only marketers or corporate executives — can provide a more wide-ranging and realistic look at a brand.
8 — What are the brand’s plans and vision for the future?
Wherever possible seek out information related to a brand’s future plans, whether it’s through a short-term or long-term timeline of goals. Understanding a brand’s vision for the future — especially if they involve major planned shifts in focus — can make finding and lining up appropriate industry experts to meet a brand’s changing directions all the more efficient.
9 — What are the primary and secondary topics that represent solutions to a brand’s foremost marketing problem?
It’s important to identify and define what marketing problem a brand is trying to solve, and to then use this information to compile a list of primary and secondary topics that represent solutions.
Such a topic solutions list can then be consulted when researching potential industry experts to collaborate with for a brand’s always-on influencer marketing program.
10 — How is the brand marketing its solutions, and how do buyers and potential customers find the solutions they’re looking for?
If the two aren’t aligned, the information you’ve gathered from following the previous steps we’ve gone over can help harmonize the solutions the brand offers with those that buyers and potential customers are seeking.
A brand’s potential customers and buyers may be primarily looking for answers and solutions on LinkedIn* or another platform, or through search engines, while the brand might be offering its key solutions on its website in white paper or case study form.
Armed with the types of information about a brand we’ve explored, bringing the brand’s solutions to the places its existing and potential customers are actively looking for answers is a much more streamlined proposition, and one where always-on influencer marketing can thrive.
11 — What are the terms, phrases and topics most accurately associated with a brand’s problem and its solutions?
Finally, compiling a list of the keywords, terms, phrases, topics, and questions that are most relevant to a brand’s primary marketing problem and the solutions it offers will help power a smart always-on influencer marketing program.
Once you’ve used brand research to answer these 11 questions and identify a brand’s topics of influence, you’ll have a much clearer signal for finding experts who are influential about those topics, and when it then comes time to facilitate content co-creation between a brand and influencers, your earlier efforts will pay off.
These questions are only a starting point for learning more about a brand, however, and we encourage you to expand on them as needed.
With Smart Brand Influencer Research In Hand, It’s Time To Find The Best Influencers
Brand research for always-on influencer marketing offers B2B brands a great value when done right, in a process that is of an ongoing nature and not a one-and-done single campaign.
As AdWeek recently noted, “Brands leading in influencer marketing are making increasingly longer collaborations a big component of their influencer marketing strategy. It allows the influencer to best understand the brand’s values and marketing needs, enabling the development of a thoughtful strategy to deliver that to their audience over time.”
Always-on influence involves co-creating the kind of authoritative content that earns, grows, and keeps audience trust, and by asking the 11 questions we’ve explored here, B2B marketers will be well-equipped to tackle the next phases of an always-on influencer program.
Stay tuned, as we’ll be exploring each step of the always-on B2B influencer marketing journey in upcoming posts, and explaining why each portion of a continuing program is vital for ongoing success.
In case you missed the previous three guides in our ongoing series of always-on B2B influencer marketing, you’ll find them here as a helpful reference:
The focus of Always On Influence for B2B brands is to establish and maintain relationships with business influencers through content co-creation, engagement and various types of activations that create and reinforce brand thought leadership.
In fact, those strong relationships with industry experts create value for driving marketing performance across the entire customer lifecycle from awareness, to purchase to advocacy. There are many of examples of B2B brands implementing ongoing influencer programs and having impact.
When the COVID-19 pandemic came along, many B2B marketers took a moment to evaluate whether their marketing programs were a fit, taking care not to sound tone deaf or too opportunistic. With the current movement about racial justice and equality, even more considerations are at hand with all social channels rich with messages about social change and little with commercial intent.
Further, brands are figuring out how they will communicate (or not) their support or position on current events.
In the current social media environment, where do social media influencers play a role for B2B brands?
Many companies that view influencer marketing primarily as a form of advertising or solely as a way to generate leads, have put their programs on pause as they did with PPC, display, social ads and other forms of advertising.
Other B2B companies have pivoted their marketing and realigned where credible experts could play a role in helping the brand authentically communicate key narratives whether they be best practices for working at home or collaborating on ways the brand can support equality.
Effective B2B influence activation is about connecting the right influencer with the right content and audience whether times are bullish or uncertain.
In the current environment, a B2B brand with strong connections to influencers with a known voice for equality have an opportunity to co-create content for customers in search of answers. Of course, companies looking at their influencers and not finding many or any people of color should seriously think about diversity and their influencer program.
When B2B brands look only at the short term with influencer marketing, they’re not always practicing the best of the discipline which is Always On and focused on strengthening the brand and influencer relationship as well as the quality, reach and business outcomes of their marketing. Another key part of Always On influencer programs is the continued effort to identify, qualify and engage new influencers.
A long term, relationship focused and results driven influencer program is a tremendous asset to a B2B brand that wants to be trusted, capable of exerting influence in the market and seen as a thought leader.
Of course some companies haven’t evolved in their sophistication about influencer engagement and have no choice but to pause their influencer marketing efforts because they’d come across as too focused on lead gen and sales, which isn’t a good look during a pandemic or a global social movement.
B2B marketers that understand both the value of content collaboration and audience activation as well as how relationships with industry experts can drive thought leadership, accelerate key message distribution and credibility during challenging times, adjust their influencer programs accordingly. This is the benefit of long term vs. short term thinking when it comes to B2B influencer marketing.
I think it’s useful for marketing leaders to remember that the premise behind influencer marketing in B2B is that influencers add authenticity, credibility, trust, reach and engagement to brand content. When is it more important for a brand to have greater authenticity, credibility, trust, reach and engagement than during a crisis? Activating the right influencers in the right way can accomplish exactly that.
These are unique times with unique opportunities. Pausing marketing to evaluate the situation and pivot to be more meaningful, trusted and effective for what customers actually care about makes sense. Dismissing marketing altogether as a cost center to be cut is not only short term thinking, but it damages the very mechanism B2B brands need to sustain and succeed during challenging times.
First let’s refresh our marketing lexicon with an overview of just what always-on influence is.
What Is Always-On Influence?
Always-on influencer marketing is the practice of ongoing relationship-building, engagement and activation of a specified group of influencers to build community, content and brand advocacy.
Always-on marketing replaces on-again off-again campaigns with a fluid ongoing effort, continually cultivating and carefully building efforts that allow businesses to seamlessly adapt their marketing efforts, rather than playing catch-up, stopping a campaign, and waiting to build a new one.
“Relationships take time and that means influencer engagement is an ongoing effort, not just when influencers are needed to provide content or promotion,” Lee explained, adding that “a relationship-driven endeavor like engaging with influencers requires an ongoing effort.”
Why Are B2B Brands Choosing Always-On Influence Now?
Always-on influencer marketing also happens to be an ideal way for brands to drive digital conversations during the global health crisis, as B2B brands seek to defeat audience apathy and skepticism by creating powerful influencer-infused content that bolsters brand credibility and authority.
Financial firms have increased their use of influencer marketing to drive awareness of services in higher demand due to the global health crisis. (eMarketer)
Using always-on influencer marketing helped our client 3M establish and popularize the Science Champions Podcast, paved the way for client DivvyHQ to see a 500 percent increase in awareness of its content platform, and led to our client Prophix seeing a 642 percent increase in engagement.
Our team at TopRank Marketing has been involved in always-on B2B influencer marketing since its inception, and we’ve had the honor of working with an array of major brands, and the success they’ve achieved utilizing ongoing influencer programs can serve as a guide for other B2B brands looking to try continuing influencer marketing.
“Working with influencers, to co-create content, delivers value and can inspire audiences to take action,” Amisha Gandhi of client SAP Ariba noted.
[bctt tweet=”“Working with influencers, to co-create content, delivers value and can inspire audiences to take action.” — Amisha Gandhi @AmishaGandhi” username=”toprank”]
What Are Some of the Benefits of Always-On Influence?
There are many benefits to ongoing B2B influencer marketing programs, and we’ll explore them and then look at examples.
“When planned and implemented effectively, B2B influencer marketing programs build trust and confidence for buyers, influencers and the brand,” Lee recently noted.
“Many companies are meeting a boost in demand for information by engaging influencers to provide thought leadership, insights and how-to content. By collaborating with influencers on educational, entertaining and interactive online content, B2B brands can satisfy the hunger buyers have for credible content experiences that engage and inspire,” Lee added.
The uncertain times we face today can also be successfully addressed by brands through the use of always-on influencer marketing.
“Influencers are tapped into the current mood and interests of their audience. Their insights can help you craft your messaging to better resonate with your customers,” Tom Treanor, global head of marketing at our client Arm Treasure Data, recently said.
The Cadence & Drum-Beat of Ongoing Influencer Marketing
Ongoing influencer marketing also helps keep the kind of steady cadence consumers expect today more than ever from brands.
“Marketers are being ultra-cognizant of their messaging and publishing cadences, and ensuring their point of view and messaging on COVID-19 — or lack thereof — are aligned with their brand values. Influencer marketing is a fantastic way to bridge the gap between what once was our 2020 marketing plan and what we now need to achieve,” Elizabeth Williams, TopRank Marketing account manager shared.
Live-streaming video from influencers is also increasingly helping to keep the ongoing drum-beat of brand messaging active.
“There has been a rush of business influencers live-streaming video on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter,” Lee said.
[bctt tweet=”Successful B2B influencer relationships take time to build and require time to maintain.” @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]
Always-On Influence Forms Lasting Relationships
The ongoing influencer relationships that brands build today can form a strong foundation from which to grow in the years ahead.
“Engage an influencer for a campaign and they are your friend for the day. Help someone become more influential and they’re your friend for life,” Lee has astutely noted since the early days of B2B influencer marketing.
Consistency and persistence are among the key factors in successful always-on influencer marketing programs.
“Long-term engagements, founded on solid relationships and strengthened through an always-on influencer strategy, will help you steer clear of stops and starts,” our senior content strategist Nick Nelson noted.
Always-on influencer marketing offers brands a multitude of benefits, and is a multi-faceted undertaking, with some of the qualities being that it:
Is an Ongoing Practice with Continuing Benefits
Focuses on Nurturing Long-Term Relationships
Helps Deliver Better Returns to Brands, Influencers, and Customers
Recognizes that Lasting Relationships Aren’t Built in a Day
Is a Two-Way Trust-Building Commitment
“Look beyond individual campaigns and think about how the brand and influencer relationship can create mutual value, influence and trust over time,” Lee has said, also noting that “Marketers need to be ‘on’ when it matters, and that might have to mean always on.”
Now let’s look at five examples of why major brands have chosen always-on influencer marketing, starting with LinkedIn.
[bctt tweet=”“Engage an influencer for a campaign and they are your friend for the day. Help someone become more influential and they’re your friend for life.” @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]
1 — Why LinkedIn Is Using Always-On Influence
Fresh off its latest tally of 690 million members, our client LinkedIn has continued to grow, with a 26 percent increase in user sessions and LinkedIn Live video streams that increased by 158 percent since February, according to parent company Microsoft’s fiscal year 2020 third quarter results release.
LinkedIn has remained in the top spot among senior B2B marketers for nurturing leads, with some 84 percent saying the platform is the most effective social media channel (Chief Marketer).
It may come as no surprise that engagement levels at LinkedIn have also risen during the pandemic, and this has been driven in part by the increasing use of always-on B2B marketing influencer initiatives.
Ty Heath, global lead of The B2B Institute at LinkedIn, sees the power of influence in building ongoing relationships.
“People can break through the noise. People trust people. Influence is about relationships,” Ty has said.
[bctt tweet=”“Business buyers expect more personalized attention and customization of content.” — Ty Heath @tyrona” username=”toprank”]
Humanizing a brand using B2B influencer marketing is explored in more detail in a Break Free B2B video interview we conducted with LinkedIn’s marketing manager Judy Tian.
Judy finds that the relevancy and engagement influencer marketing offers is especially important.
[bctt tweet=”“Even though I think reach is part of the equation, and we want to work with influencers who have a substantial amount of reach, the relevancy and engagement are what’s most important.” — Judy Tian @judytian07″ username=”toprank”]
Our own Nick sees always-on approaches as becoming a part of the new marketing normal.
“Brands need to be readily available, with the right content at the right time. Strategies must account for every touch point. Always-on approaches are becoming the norm,” Nick Nelson wrote.
It’s a view echoed by our vice president of client accounts Alexis Hall.
“Campaigns should be intertwined with an overall, always-on strategy to create marketing harmony and get the ultimate value out of all your efforts,” Alexis noted.
There are many benefits to building long-term influencer relationships that simply won’t occur when brands view influencer marketing as a tactic that can be turned on and off at will, however.
“Brands are best served by fostering long-term and mutually beneficial B2B influencer relationships, going beyond seeing influencers as just another of many projects. The loyalty an influencer will have towards your brand is largely dependent on building and maintaining ongoing relationships,” Lee shared during a recent webinar.
“When a brand provides long-term commitment to a partnership with an influencer, even when an influencer may not be actively involved in a campaign for the brand, the strength of the ongoing relationship will drive continued incentive for the influencer to be advocating for the brand,” Lee added.
LinkedIn has seen continuing success using the power of always-on influence, and to help you learn more about how the firm incorporates influencer marketing into its efforts, here are seven recent related articles we’ve written.
[bctt tweet=”“Brands need to be readily available, with the right content at the right time. Strategies must account for every touch point. Always-on approaches are becoming the norm.” @NickNelsonMN” username=”toprank”]
2 — Why Adobe Chose Always-On Influence
Our client Adobe has successfully used always-on influencer marketing in multiple ongoing programs over a period of years.
Adobe engaged multiple influencers to provide insights around customer experience management in a popular interactive infographic in support of the Adobe Summit conference.
For its “Reshaping Customer Experience Management: The Future of #CXM” campaign, Adobe worked with TopRank Marketing to create a unique interactive online story that featured a wealth of helpful B2B influencer content to increase awareness of Adobe’s Customer Experience Management solutions.
The campaign combined expert insight from top industry experts including Jay Baer of Convince & Convert, Ann Handley of MarketingProfs, Scott Monty of Scott Monty Strategies, Rachel Richter of Dun & Bradstreet and others, with enticing and genuinely useful interactive elements to bring Adobe’s CXM to life.
As we’ve seen, always-on influencer marketing delivers numerous benefits, including one that Rani Mani, head of social influencer enablement at Adobe, sees as especially important — bringing more of the humanizing element to B2B brands.
“The main benefit of B2B influencer collaboration is that influencers humanize a brand and capture the personality behind the logo,” Rani said.
“Influencers raise brand awareness and engagement by giving companies access to an audience they may not otherwise have through a trusted and credible source,” Rani added.
“We at Adobe pride ourselves on cultivating and nurturing long term relationships with our influencers,” Rani noted, adding that “With an always on approach like this, it’s easier to match the right influencers with the right campaigns as they get launched.”
[bctt tweet=”“The main benefit of B2B influencer collaboration is that influencers humanize a brand and capture the personality behind the logo.” @ranimani0707″ username=”toprank”]
In our annual list of top B2B influencer marketing predictions Rani suggested that influencers and brands will continue to strengthen their ongoing relationships both digitally and in the real world, something that will undoubtedly resume once the global health crisis subsides.
“In 2020, I predict in-real-life experiences between brands and influencers will grow and facilitate a greater sense of community,” Rani noted.
Rani also sat down with Lee and shared how working with B2B influencers can drive marketing results, how influencer engagement is organized at Adobe, along with a variety of tips on recruiting and engaging influencers, as well as listing some of her favorite B2B influencers to work with.
Among Adobe’s always-on influencer initiatives has been its successful #AdobeInsiders program, which features top B2B influencers assembled by Rani and her team, with insider members including Lee, Goldie Chan, and others.
Goldie recently explored the role of personal branding — an element important to savvy influencers — in a Forbes article which also features several take-aways from Lee.
“Adobe has not only built continued trust in its brand amongst a community of influencers but with the Adobe customers those influencers reach as well,” Lee noted.
[bctt tweet=”“With an always on approach, it’s easier to match the right influencers with the right campaigns as they get launched.” @ranimani0707″ username=”toprank”]
Dell Outlet was also a finalist at the B2BMX Killer Content Awards — the Finnys — with a campaign featuring small business influencers advocating on video and audio, and testing for the value of refurbished computers.
Dell Outlet needed to build awareness as an entity distinct from their parent brand. With a focus on refurbished hardware and a commitment to a more sustainable, circular economy, Dell Outlet built a unique personality, purpose and value proposition. They needed — however — to both establish themselves as their own brand, and educate a small business audience on the value of refurbished equipment.
With targeted research and outreach, Dell Outlet connected and co-created content with small business influencers who had relevance and resonance with the brand’s target audience. The full campaign, featuring videos, a landing page, and social promotion, achieved strong results that were only possible with always-on influencer marketing:
The campaign was 175 percent over its goal for traffic to product pages, and even though it was primarily an awareness campaign, the influencer contributions succeeded in driving conversions — a powerful testament to how successfully the campaign built trust with its target audience.
Our client Dell Technologies has also developed relationships with a network of influencers, including Mark Schaefer and Doug Karr, who hosted the popular Dell Luminaries podcast. Their discussions with technology visionaries from both inside Dell and elsewhere, put a human face on technology innovation, and build trust in the Dell Technologies brand.
It’s another of the many ongoing benefits of always-on influence that Lee has observed.
“Don’t make your influencer involvement a one-and-done. Keep following and engaging with your influencers, helping promote them and developing a community. Better yet, introduce influencers to each other. They’ll have your brand to thank for meaningful connections they make with their peers,” Lee noted.
Here’s another example from Dell Outlet, highlighting the insights they’ve gathered from an array of small business experts and entrepreneurs on making smart tech purchases.
[bctt tweet=”“Always On Influencer Marketing is a strategic approach to creating communities of trusted experts that is relationship and content focused.” @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]
4 — Why RateLinx Went With Always-On Influence
Our client RateLinx has used always-on influence to achieve new levels of engagement and reach for its platform in the supply chain software and consulting industry, whether through co-created blog content, influencer-rich information resources, or other forms of digital content.
[bctt tweet=”“Campaigns should be intertwined with an overall, always-on strategy to create marketing harmony and get the ultimate value out of all your efforts.” @Alexis5484″ username=”toprank”]
5 — Why AT&T Is Using Always-On Influence
Whether it’s a major name influencer or niche industry micro-influencers, AT&T’s always-on influencer approach has seen continued success, such as its recent inclusion in the popular “#SomeGoodNews with John Krasinski” YouTube videos.
Take Action by Adding #AlwaysOnInfluence To Your Marketing
As we’ve seen with our examples from LinkedIn, Adobe, Dell, RateLinx, AT&T and others, always-on influence is a powerful long-term method for driving brand authority and increasing brand trust and engagement, especially during uncertain times.