12 Expert B2B Influencer Marketing Predictions for 2021

Meeting table with people's hands working on predictions image.

What will B2B influencer marketing look like in 2021, and where will it take B2B marketers and brands when a post-pandemic world eventually arrives?

To help answer these questions we’ve gathered top B2B influencer marketing insights from both industry experts and our own team, and present our look at their predictions for 2021.

Let’s jump right in and see how top B2B influencer marketing practitioners expect 2021 to change the way we do business, and why it will likely be a breakout year for building influence.

1 — Anti-Marketing and The Real vs. The Ideal

Ann Boyd
Ann Boyd
Vice President of Communications, Rubrik

My prediction is that we’re moving into an anti-marketing, influencer marketing world. No one has time for the deluge of commercial content coming their way these days on every platform. The pendulum has swung to where the obviously-solicited and carefully-curated feedback is flooding our inboxes and social feeds.

The trick is finding authentic advocates and keeping the content short, sweet, timely, and targeted! 2021 is going to be all about the real vs. the ideal.

“The trick is finding authentic advocates and keeping the content short, sweet, timely, and targeted! 2021 is going to be all about the real vs. the ideal.” — Ann Boyd @annb Click To Tweet

2 —Ethos, Relatability, Affinity and True Partnerships

Ann-Handley
Ann Handley
Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs

I have 3 predictions for 2021:

1. A long-term approach to influencer marketing growth is the Miracle-Gro B2B brands need. Influencer relationships have increasingly been about building long-term partnerships — not short-term, one-off collaborations. This has been evolving for a while… but in 2021 it’s critical. One-offs are choked off so true partnerships can thrive.

2. Purpose-driven partnerships become a thing. It’s not the size of an influencer’s audience — it’s what they stand for. Brand, ethos, character, relatability, affinity… it all matters.

3. A B2B brand will create the first viral TikTok video in partnership with a TikTok creator. (Why not?)

3 1/2. Instagram stops updating its platform in annoying ways that repel users. (Wait. Now I’m just making a Christmas wish list…. Never mind.)

If the pandemic has taught B2B marketing anything, it’s that trust, relatability, and TikTok matter more than ever.

Just kidding on that last one.

Or am I?

“A long-term approach to influencer marketing growth is the Miracle-Gro B2B brands need.” — Ann Handley @MarketingProfs Click To Tweet

3 — More B2B Influencer Marketing Professionals Will Move the Needle

Ryan Bares
Ryan Bares
Global Social Programs Lead: Social Influencers & Employee Advocacy, IBM Systems

2021 will be the year of focus for the influencer marketer. B2B brands should now see the fruits of their influencer marketing labor, but is that really moving the needle?

Influencer marketing professionals – a position that will have more headcount in 2021 – will be expected to show results and focus on the right influencers engaging with your target audience vs. trying everything and seeing what sticks.

“2021 will be the year of focus for the influencer marketer. Influencer marketing professionals will be expected to show results and focus on the right influencers engaging with your target audience.” – Ryan Bares @RyanBares Click To Tweet

4 — Virtual Events Become Stronger B2B Marketing Tools

Anton Shulke
Anton Shulke
Head of Influencer Marketing (SEO), SEMRush

Influencer marketing for me is about relationships.

Between you, as a part of your brand, and a person — an influencer. Sure, there is some kind of relationship between an influencer and the brand, but still, in the end, it comes down to personal relationships between particular people.

Many of us build it using real-life meetings, a cup of coffee or a beer. What could be better than face-to-face conversations?

It abruptly stopped in 2020 with COVID, and my guess is it won’t be back soon. I don’t want to use a cliche — the world won’t be the same again — but it might be partially true.

What could replace real-life conferences and personal meetings?

The obvious answer — online ones. I think in 2021 a lot of influencer marketers will look at online events as arguably the strongest influencer marketing tool. We will be arranging virtual conferences with the major goal to “steal the soul” of our influencers. Saying so, remember what is the best way to please your influencer/speaker: have a big, engaged audience.

“In 2021 influencer marketers will look at online events as arguably the strongest influencer marketing tool.” — Anton Shulke @anton_shulke Click To Tweet

5 — Better Mutual Long-Term Influencer Value

Tim Williams
Tim Williams
CEO, Onalytica

As an industry the early adoption phase is now over. B2B influencer marketing is now a more mainstream strategy integrated by marketers who are not specialists.

This in turn has caused a lot of brands and agencies to jump on the bandwagon and collaborate with the same top tier industry global influencers with mixed results.

The increased take up has shone a spotlight on the knowledge gaps and improvements that are required by marketers and influencers to collaborate better as the industry matures.

In 2021 there are 3 key areas for marketers to improve:

  1. Better design of initial brand/influencer partnerships to deliver mutual long-term value
  2. Help develop a community of internal & external influencers as content creators around thought leadership themes
  3. Improve onboarding and management of influencers, as poor processes can negatively affect the relationship

“As an industry the early adoption phase is now over. B2B influencer marketing is now a more mainstream strategy integrated by marketers who are not specialists.” — Tim Williams @WilliamsTim Click To Tweet

6 — A Blended and More Human Approach

Nic Michael
Nic Michael
Influencer Marketing Strategist, TopRank Marketing

What we see right now is a distinction between B2C and B2B influencer content creation — but why not blend the two?!

My prediction is that B2B content will begin to take on a more B2C approach, in that the way influencers develop content will be a bit scrappier and more human rather than buttoned up and polished.

“B2B content will begin to take on a more B2C approach, in that the way influencers develop content will be a bit scrappier and more human rather than buttoned up and polished.” — Nic Michael @TopRank Click To Tweet

7 — Deep Engagement and Finding a Value Sweet Spot

Rachel Douglas
Rachel Douglas
Senior Manager of Marketing and Brand, Prophix*

Influencers are becoming more savvy about brands they partner with and why.  Organizations and marketers have to work harder to nurture key relationships and ensure we aren’t just asking for content or activation, but rather find a value sweet spot where both parties benefit and win.  That means meaningful content, authentic voices and deep engagement.

“Influencers are becoming more savvy about brands they partner with and why. Organizations and marketers have to work harder to nurture key relationships and ensure we aren’t just asking for content or activation.” — Rachel Douglas Click To Tweet

8 — Seek Up-And-Coming Influencers who Align with Brand Values

Tom Treanor
Tom Treanor
CMO, Treasure Data*

With the pandemic, we’ve seen a massive rush online, and many of these new habits will continue in 2021 and even post-pandemic.

Because of this, the importance of online influencers has only increased. Expect to see brands increasingly working with influencers in B2C and B2B environments. The smart money will go after influencers on the rise, so look out for up-and-coming influencers who are seeing some success in the platforms your audience prefers, as well as who align with your brand’s values.

“The importance of online influencers has only increased. Expect to see brands increasingly working with influencers in B2C and B2B environments.” — Tom Treanor @RtMixMktg Click To Tweet

9 — Always-On Influence and Greater Sophistication

Debbie Friez
Debbie Friez
Influencer Marketing Strategist, TopRank Marketing

Brands often engaged influencers around events, and that is where they were able to get budget. With so many events going virtual, I see brands reassessing this tactic. More brands are striving to engage influencers throughout the year and look to have an always-on program. Thus, the budgets and alignments are changing.

Additionally, virtual events are not new, but their importance and sophistication is already radically improving. 2021 will continue to see more influencers upping their game around lighting, microphones and cameras to have the best experience for their audience. I’m excited to see how influencers will develop their video and audio presence to help companies share information.

“More brands are striving to engage influencers throughout the year and look to have an always-on influencer marketing program.” — Debbie Friez @dfriez Click To Tweet

10 — Network and Credential-Building Activities in a Maturing Influencer Industry

Paul Dobson
Paul Dobson
Senior Director of Social and Influencer Marketing, Citrix

Here’s what’s been on my mind while I have been thinking about planning for 2021. With the ongoing discussion about misinformation in the media, I think that B2B influencer teams are going to be looking for a solid balance between the influencer’s network and their credential building activities that continue to build on their reputations as a strong voice in the industry that they represent.

With the influencer industry maturing, and mindspace on social media shrinking, there is going to be increasing competition to find the right person to help promote B2B brands and brand messages.

“B2B influencer teams are going to be looking for a solid balance between the influencer’s network and their credential building activities.” — Paul Dobson @svengelsk Click To Tweet

11 — Long-Term Cooperation and Deepening Influencer Relationships

Michaela Underdahl
Michaela Underdahl
Senior Community Manager
Nimble

I predict two key trends happening in the B2B influencer marketing space in 2021. The first one will be the continuation of brands’ focus on nurturing existing relationships and building new long-term connections.

At Nimble, we believe in treating business relationships the same way we treat other important relationships in our lives. Long-term cooperation with influencers is our number one priority because it’s a win-win for everybody.

Both we and the influencers we work with invest time, energy, and resources into every campaign we run. We only reach out to people who we want to build a long-lasting relationship with. The end goal with our influencers is to eventually turn them into Nimble power-users and life-long brand advocates.

The other thing I think companies will be focusing on in 2021 is “fishing out” the micro-influencers from the deep waters of their existing base. It’s much easier to deepen the relationship with someone who already loves your product, turning them into an evangelist, than it is to teach an influencer the product after you’ve spent months — sometimes years — nurturing a new relationship.

“It’s much easier to deepen the relationship with someone who already loves your product, turning them into an evangelist, than it is to teach an influencer the product.” — Michaela Underdahl @Nimble Click To Tweet

12 — Experiences, the Business of Influence, Agency Influencer Networks and Brand Individuals


Lee Odden
CEO, TopRank Marketing

In our 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report, 80% of B2B marketers agree that influencer marketing will be more important in the coming year and 80% expect their influencer marketing budgets to increase or stay the same. As the pandemic has driven B2B marketing activities decidedly digital, influence will continue to play an increasingly important role in the B2B marketing mix and here’s how:

  • Experiences – 74% of marketers believe working with influencers improves the experience of prospects and customers with the brand. That trend will continue as more influencers are engaged creatively to partner with brands on messaging and trusted content. The definition of influencer will broaden enabling brands to activate more of the individuals internally and externally playing a role in delivering the best experiences for customers.
  • Business of Influence – More professional influencers will come on the scene in the B2B world to provide brands with everything from analyst level expertise to turn-key research and promotions projects, professional media and content creation that are accountable to more than just “potential social impressions.” Business influence in 2021 means accountability to the bottom line, not just superficial KPIs.
  • Agency Influencer Networks – As more B2B brands come on board the influencer marketing train, they’ll want to fast track the most difficult part: identifying, qualifying and recruiting influencer partners. Specialist agencies will maintain relationships with networks of industry specific influencers and be able to provide new clients with near-immediate connections with experts that might otherwise take months to nurture.
  • Brand Influencers – Employee advocacy can tip the scales in favor of the B2B brands that are able to activate their staff and this trend will continue. Additionally, more B2B brands will invest in the building of influence for their key executives. B2B brands that both harvest relationships with top industry influencers and build the influence of their key execs and subject matter experts could see a multiplier effect on warming the market, building trust, thought leadership, and credibility when it comes to the confidence needed to make purchasing decisions.

“The definition of influencer will broaden enabling brands to activate more of the individuals internally and externally playing a role in delivering the best experiences for customers.” — Lee Odden @LeeOdden Click To Tweet

Putting 2021 B2B Influencer Marketing Trends to the Test

2021 will see B2B marketers taking influencer marketing into not only a new year but a new more mainstream era of wider adoption among major brands, and the insightful predictions we’ve examined here are sure to play out in altogether new and sometimes unpredictable ways.

* Prophix and Treasure Data are TopRank Marketing clients.

12 Expert B2B Influencer Marketing Predictions for 2021

Meeting table with people's hands working on predictions image.

Meeting table with people's hands working on predictions image.

What will B2B influencer marketing look like in 2021, and where will it take B2B marketers and brands when a post-pandemic world eventually arrives?

To help answer these questions we’ve gathered top B2B influencer marketing insights from both industry experts and our own team, and present our look at their predictions for 2021.

Let’s jump right in and see how top B2B influencer marketing practitioners expect 2021 to change the way we do business, and why it will likely be a breakout year for building influence.

1 — Anti-Marketing and The Real vs. The Ideal

Ann Boyd
Ann Boyd
Vice President of Communications, Rubrik

My prediction is that we’re moving into an anti-marketing, influencer marketing world. No one has time for the deluge of commercial content coming their way these days on every platform. The pendulum has swung to where the obviously-solicited and carefully-curated feedback is flooding our inboxes and social feeds.

The trick is finding authentic advocates and keeping the content short, sweet, timely, and targeted! 2021 is going to be all about the real vs. the ideal.

[bctt tweet=”“The trick is finding authentic advocates and keeping the content short, sweet, timely, and targeted! 2021 is going to be all about the real vs. the ideal.” — Ann Boyd @annb” username=”toprank”]

2 —Ethos, Relatability, Affinity and True Partnerships

Ann-Handley
Ann Handley
Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs

I have 3 predictions for 2021:

1. A long-term approach to influencer marketing growth is the Miracle-Gro B2B brands need. Influencer relationships have increasingly been about building long-term partnerships — not short-term, one-off collaborations. This has been evolving for a while… but in 2021 it’s critical. One-offs are choked off so true partnerships can thrive.

2. Purpose-driven partnerships become a thing. It’s not the size of an influencer’s audience — it’s what they stand for. Brand, ethos, character, relatability, affinity… it all matters.

3. A B2B brand will create the first viral TikTok video in partnership with a TikTok creator. (Why not?)

3 1/2. Instagram stops updating its platform in annoying ways that repel users. (Wait. Now I’m just making a Christmas wish list…. Never mind.)

If the pandemic has taught B2B marketing anything, it’s that trust, relatability, and TikTok matter more than ever.

Just kidding on that last one.

Or am I?

[bctt tweet=”“A long-term approach to influencer marketing growth is the Miracle-Gro B2B brands need.” — Ann Handley @MarketingProfs” username=”toprank”]

3 — More B2B Influencer Marketing Professionals Will Move the Needle

Ryan Bares
Ryan Bares
Global Social Programs Lead: Social Influencers & Employee Advocacy, IBM Systems

2021 will be the year of focus for the influencer marketer. B2B brands should now see the fruits of their influencer marketing labor, but is that really moving the needle?

Influencer marketing professionals – a position that will have more headcount in 2021 – will be expected to show results and focus on the right influencers engaging with your target audience vs. trying everything and seeing what sticks.

[bctt tweet=”“2021 will be the year of focus for the influencer marketer. Influencer marketing professionals will be expected to show results and focus on the right influencers engaging with your target audience.” – Ryan Bares @RyanBares” username=”toprank”]

4 — Virtual Events Become Stronger B2B Marketing Tools

Anton Shulke
Anton Shulke
Head of Influencer Marketing (SEO), SEMRush

Influencer marketing for me is about relationships.

Between you, as a part of your brand, and a person — an influencer. Sure, there is some kind of relationship between an influencer and the brand, but still, in the end, it comes down to personal relationships between particular people.

Many of us build it using real-life meetings, a cup of coffee or a beer. What could be better than face-to-face conversations?

It abruptly stopped in 2020 with COVID, and my guess is it won’t be back soon. I don’t want to use a cliche — the world won’t be the same again — but it might be partially true.

What could replace real-life conferences and personal meetings?

The obvious answer — online ones. I think in 2021 a lot of influencer marketers will look at online events as arguably the strongest influencer marketing tool. We will be arranging virtual conferences with the major goal to “steal the soul” of our influencers. Saying so, remember what is the best way to please your influencer/speaker: have a big, engaged audience.

[bctt tweet=”“In 2021 influencer marketers will look at online events as arguably the strongest influencer marketing tool.” — Anton Shulke @anton_shulke” username=”toprank”]

5 — Better Mutual Long-Term Influencer Value

Tim Williams
Tim Williams
CEO, Onalytica

As an industry the early adoption phase is now over. B2B influencer marketing is now a more mainstream strategy integrated by marketers who are not specialists.

This in turn has caused a lot of brands and agencies to jump on the bandwagon and collaborate with the same top tier industry global influencers with mixed results.

The increased take up has shone a spotlight on the knowledge gaps and improvements that are required by marketers and influencers to collaborate better as the industry matures.

In 2021 there are 3 key areas for marketers to improve:

  1. Better design of initial brand/influencer partnerships to deliver mutual long-term value
  2. Help develop a community of internal & external influencers as content creators around thought leadership themes
  3. Improve onboarding and management of influencers, as poor processes can negatively affect the relationship

[bctt tweet=”“As an industry the early adoption phase is now over. B2B influencer marketing is now a more mainstream strategy integrated by marketers who are not specialists.” — Tim Williams @WilliamsTim” username=”toprank”]

6 — A Blended and More Human Approach

Nic Michael
Nic Michael
Influencer Marketing Strategist, TopRank Marketing

What we see right now is a distinction between B2C and B2B influencer content creation — but why not blend the two?!

My prediction is that B2B content will begin to take on a more B2C approach, in that the way influencers develop content will be a bit scrappier and more human rather than buttoned up and polished.

[bctt tweet=”“B2B content will begin to take on a more B2C approach, in that the way influencers develop content will be a bit scrappier and more human rather than buttoned up and polished.” — Nic Michael @TopRank” username=”toprank”]

7 — Deep Engagement and Finding a Value Sweet Spot

Rachel Douglas
Rachel Douglas
Senior Manager of Marketing and Brand, Prophix*

Influencers are becoming more savvy about brands they partner with and why.  Organizations and marketers have to work harder to nurture key relationships and ensure we aren’t just asking for content or activation, but rather find a value sweet spot where both parties benefit and win.  That means meaningful content, authentic voices and deep engagement.

[bctt tweet=”“Influencers are becoming more savvy about brands they partner with and why.  Organizations and marketers have to work harder to nurture key relationships and ensure we aren’t just asking for content or activation.” — Rachel Douglas” username=”toprank”]

8 — Seek Up-And-Coming Influencers who Align with Brand Values

Tom Treanor
Tom Treanor
CMO, Treasure Data*

With the pandemic, we’ve seen a massive rush online, and many of these new habits will continue in 2021 and even post-pandemic.

Because of this, the importance of online influencers has only increased. Expect to see brands increasingly working with influencers in B2C and B2B environments. The smart money will go after influencers on the rise, so look out for up-and-coming influencers who are seeing some success in the platforms your audience prefers, as well as who align with your brand’s values.

[bctt tweet=”“The importance of online influencers has only increased. Expect to see brands increasingly working with influencers in B2C and B2B environments.” — Tom Treanor @RtMixMktg” username=”toprank”]

9 — Always-On Influence and Greater Sophistication

Debbie Friez
Debbie Friez
Influencer Marketing Strategist, TopRank Marketing

Brands often engaged influencers around events, and that is where they were able to get budget. With so many events going virtual, I see brands reassessing this tactic. More brands are striving to engage influencers throughout the year and look to have an always-on program. Thus, the budgets and alignments are changing.

Additionally, virtual events are not new, but their importance and sophistication is already radically improving. 2021 will continue to see more influencers upping their game around lighting, microphones and cameras to have the best experience for their audience. I’m excited to see how influencers will develop their video and audio presence to help companies share information.

[bctt tweet=”“More brands are striving to engage influencers throughout the year and look to have an always-on influencer marketing program.” — Debbie Friez @dfriez” username=”toprank”]

10 — Network and Credential-Building Activities in a Maturing Influencer Industry

Paul Dobson
Paul Dobson
Senior Director of Social and Influencer Marketing, Citrix

Here’s what’s been on my mind while I have been thinking about planning for 2021. With the ongoing discussion about misinformation in the media, I think that B2B influencer teams are going to be looking for a solid balance between the influencer’s network and their credential building activities that continue to build on their reputations as a strong voice in the industry that they represent.

With the influencer industry maturing, and mindspace on social media shrinking, there is going to be increasing competition to find the right person to help promote B2B brands and brand messages.

[bctt tweet=”“B2B influencer teams are going to be looking for a solid balance between the influencer’s network and their credential building activities.” — Paul Dobson @svengelsk” username=”toprank”]

11 — Long-Term Cooperation and Deepening Influencer Relationships

Michaela Underdahl
Michaela Underdahl
Senior Community Manager
Nimble

I predict two key trends happening in the B2B influencer marketing space in 2021. The first one will be the continuation of brands’ focus on nurturing existing relationships and building new long-term connections.

At Nimble, we believe in treating business relationships the same way we treat other important relationships in our lives. Long-term cooperation with influencers is our number one priority because it’s a win-win for everybody.

Both we and the influencers we work with invest time, energy, and resources into every campaign we run. We only reach out to people who we want to build a long-lasting relationship with. The end goal with our influencers is to eventually turn them into Nimble power-users and life-long brand advocates.

The other thing I think companies will be focusing on in 2021 is “fishing out” the micro-influencers from the deep waters of their existing base. It’s much easier to deepen the relationship with someone who already loves your product, turning them into an evangelist, than it is to teach an influencer the product after you’ve spent months — sometimes years — nurturing a new relationship.

[bctt tweet=”“It’s much easier to deepen the relationship with someone who already loves your product, turning them into an evangelist, than it is to teach an influencer the product.” — Michaela Underdahl @Nimble” username=”toprank”]

12 — Experiences, the Business of Influence, Agency Influencer Networks and Brand Individuals


Lee Odden
CEO, TopRank Marketing

In our 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report, 80% of B2B marketers agree that influencer marketing will be more important in the coming year and 80% expect their influencer marketing budgets to increase or stay the same. As the pandemic has driven B2B marketing activities decidedly digital, influence will continue to play an increasingly important role in the B2B marketing mix and here’s how:

  • Experiences – 74% of marketers believe working with influencers improves the experience of prospects and customers with the brand. That trend will continue as more influencers are engaged creatively to partner with brands on messaging and trusted content. The definition of influencer will broaden enabling brands to activate more of the individuals internally and externally playing a role in delivering the best experiences for customers.
  • Business of Influence – More professional influencers will come on the scene in the B2B world to provide brands with everything from analyst level expertise to turn-key research and promotions projects, professional media and content creation that are accountable to more than just “potential social impressions.” Business influence in 2021 means accountability to the bottom line, not just superficial KPIs.
  • Agency Influencer Networks – As more B2B brands come on board the influencer marketing train, they’ll want to fast track the most difficult part: identifying, qualifying and recruiting influencer partners. Specialist agencies will maintain relationships with networks of industry specific influencers and be able to provide new clients with near-immediate connections with experts that might otherwise take months to nurture.
  • Brand Influencers – Employee advocacy can tip the scales in favor of the B2B brands that are able to activate their staff and this trend will continue. Additionally, more B2B brands will invest in the building of influence for their key executives. B2B brands that both harvest relationships with top industry influencers and build the influence of their key execs and subject matter experts could see a multiplier effect on warming the market, building trust, thought leadership, and credibility when it comes to the confidence needed to make purchasing decisions.

[bctt tweet=”“The definition of influencer will broaden enabling brands to activate more of the individuals internally and externally playing a role in delivering the best experiences for customers.” — Lee Odden @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]

Putting 2021 B2B Influencer Marketing Trends to the Test

2021 will see B2B marketers taking influencer marketing into not only a new year but a new more mainstream era of wider adoption among major brands, and the insightful predictions we’ve examined here are sure to play out in altogether new and sometimes unpredictable ways.

* Prophix and Treasure Data are TopRank Marketing clients.

The post 12 Expert B2B Influencer Marketing Predictions for 2021 appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

10 Top B2B Influencer Marketing Predictions for 2020

Influencer Marketing Predictions for 2020

In late 2018, B2B influencer marketing was on the industry watch list as predictions for what this year would hold began popping up. And what we saw were some major advancements in what B2B marketers had planned for influencer marketing in 2019 including:

Some of these initiatives rose to the top for 2019, while others got lost in the day-to-day shuffle. However, 2019 was the year that B2B marketers really LEANED IN on influencer marketing in a way they hadn’t before. Many of the predictions from last year have become best practices for some of today’s top brands.

What does 2020 hold? To help turn your B2B influencer marketing dreams into a reality, we’ve tapped 10 influencer marketing leaders to share their top predictions for 2020.

The Integration of Influence in 2020

TopRank Marketing has been in the business of B2B influencer marketing since before it had a name. We’re constantly iterating on our approach and finding new ways to help our clients achieve influencer marketing success, and we’re proud to have been named by Forrester as the only B2B marketing agency with influencer marketing capabilities.

In 2020, I predict that we’ll see EVEN MORE brands integrating influencer marketing into strategic marketing initiatives in a way that supports multiple objectives (and even departments or business units). The intersection of business priorities, search demand and influencers is what we like to call the “Content Sweet Spot”.

And, by integrating these three areas (and keeping an eye on trending data), influencer programs have the opportunity to create strategic and long-lasting impact for your business on an even grander scale. So, what do our other experts predict will change in 2020? Read on to find out!

Focusing on Engagement Over Reach

 
Alyssa Samuelson
Senior Communications Manager, Microsoft

Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better when it comes to influencer reach. Brands are finding more value in the ways in which followers engage with influencers rather than in how many people might see a piece of content. Measuring likes, comments and shares show that an influencer’s audience is listening and the content is resonating. Tapping into influencers who may not have millions of followers but do have a loyal audience can be meaningful to brands, particularly those who are trying to reach very specific audiences.

[bctt tweet=”Now and in 2020, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better when it comes to influencer reach. @alyssasamuelson #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions” username=”toprank”]

Going All-In on Always-On Influencer Marketing


Garnor Morantes
Group Marketing Manager, LinkedIn

I predict organizations are going to lean more heavily into fostering deep, personal relationships with influencers. Influencer marketing was largely borne from leveraging an influencer’s scale and mass appeal, but consumer savvy and skepticism have resulted in greater importance on authenticity.

As a result, I anticipate organizations will focus their efforts on building lasting, ongoing relationships with a more targeted group of influencers. In addition to working with influencers more as partners and collaborators, the investment in an always-on program focused on uncovering/sharing true, authentic messages and insights that resonate with customers will make influencer “reach” less of a priority.

[bctt tweet=”In 2020, I predict organizations are going to lean more heavily into fostering deep, personal relationships with influencers. @garnormorantes #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions” username=”toprank”]


Judy Tian
Marketing Manager, LinkedIn

I predict that brands and influencers will have an increasingly collaborative relationship, with influencers being brought in even earlier in the process. We’re already seeing collaboration at the content and creative development stage, but I predict that influencers will partner on even earlier work such as brand messaging, idea validation, and campaign brainstorming – ultimately in service of better content for the end-consumer.

[bctt tweet=”In 2020, I predict that brands and influencers will have an increasingly collaborative relationship, with influencers being brought in even earlier in the process. @judytian07 #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions” username=”toprank”]

Taking Influencer Activations Beyond Digital


Rani Mani
Head of Social Influencer Enablement, Adobe

Despite the fact that today’s technology makes it beyond easy to connect with people around the world virtually, there is something profoundly special and different about in-real-life (IRL) activations. Shared, in-person experiences facilitate a sense of community and form bonds between people that no amount of emails and social media likes can possibly come close to.

Though it is often a substantial time and financial investment, we at Adobe are always looking for IRL influencer activations. It can be as simple and informal as grabbing a bite to eat together or something a bit more planned like a visit to HQs to meet with the corporate strategy team and participate in product demos.

My favorite was our AdWeek related Nasdaq interview experience followed by our group cooking class. We were able to support each other and build on one another’s thoughts and later let our hair down and engage in some good, old-fashioned fun. We all left so energized and invested in one other’s lives in ways that you simply don’t get with online interactions alone.

[bctt tweet=”In 2020, I predict in-real-life experiences between brands and influencers will grow and facilitate a greater sense of community. @ranimani0707 #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions” username=”toprank”]

 
Janine Wegner
Global Thought Leadership Program Manager, Dell Technologies

The biggest challenge for brands is the break-through of key differentiators like their USPs, values and the benefit to their stakeholders – online and offline. Besides engaging key spokespeople, brands will increasingly collaborate and co-create content through real-life activations with external experts that influence their target audience.

It takes a “mesh” of the right voices to bring the stories and proof points to live. For instance, at key events, brands can partner with influencers to shape audience engagements by providing key audience and industry insights, as well as be a participant to elevate the conversation and/or be an amplifier of the activation digitally.

[bctt tweet=”In 2020, I predict that brands will increasingly collaborate and co-create content through real-life activations with external experts that influence their target audience. @JanineWegner #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions” username=”toprank”]

Read: How to Integrate Online and Offline Tactics to Cultivate Influencer Relationships

Combining Content and Influence


Amisha Gandhi
Vice President, Influencer Marketing & Communications, SAP Ariba and SAP Fieldglass

In B2B, the emphasis will focus on building “communities of influence” around industry experts, employees and brand advocates/customers.  The communities will act as watering holes where people can learn, share ideas and find value through authentic interactions vs. one-way content. This will play well with ABM efforts to personalize content by making it more interactive and engaging. The effect will be to attract target consumers rather than push content to them.

[bctt tweet=”In 2020, I predict that the emphasis will focus on building ‘communities of influence’ around industry experts, employees and brand advocates/customers. @AmishaGandhi #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions” username=”toprank”]


Lee Odden
CEO, TopRank Marketing

Content is the currency of value that B2B brands and influencers exchange. However, as more buyers become numb to information overload and brand marketing, it’s not enough for B2B companies to inform buyers with expert quotes, interviews and webinars.

To truly stand out in 2020, B2B influencer marketing programs must optimize beyond reach to experience. Influencer-driven content experiences—from audio to video to interactive—deliver engaging information that inspires buyers to action. When content is experiential and influential, everybody wins.

[bctt tweet=”In 2020, I predict that influencer-driven experiences will be what it takes to optimize influencer marketing programs beyond reach and to inspire action. @leeodden #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions” username=”toprank”]

Integrating with Employee Advocacy


Ryan Bares
Global Social Programs Lead: Social Influencers & Employee Advocacy IBM Systems, IBM

I’m building brand ambassadors by enabling employees to be active on social media.

Any influencer strategy must incorporate employee advocacy.

… It’s no longer one or the other.

I’ve seen success with my tailor-made social media education for IBM subject matter experts. This included social media 101 (i.e., building out a profile), to more advanced topics like social listening and producing long-form content. I then served-up great influencer content (topic-based) to interested IBMers so they can join the conversations and engage online.

I highly expect to see more brands focusing on employee coaching and mentoring to elevate their influencer strategy in 2020. Employees are an important part of the mix so don’t overlook them.

[bctt tweet=”I highly expect to see more brands focusing on employee coaching and mentoring to elevate their influencer strategy in 2020. @RyanBares #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions” username=”toprank”]

Embracing The Rise of Video & Audio


Ursula Ringham
Head of Global Influencer Marketing, SAP

2020 will be the year of B2B influencer marketing, with companies finally understanding how to use video, podcasts, and long-form content such as blogs to tell their story and reach new audiences. And storytelling will be key to this success, having the influencer tell the brand story through their lens.

[bctt tweet=”2020 will be the year of B2B influencer marketing, with companies finally understanding how to use different types of content to tell their story and reach new audiences. @ursularingham #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions” username=”toprank”]

Making Authenticity a Priority


Angela Lipscomb
Influencer Relations Manager, SAS

Even as recently as five years ago many B2B marketers didn’t understand how influencers could bring value to a brand if they weren’t endorsing it. They didn’t understand that the essence of an influencer’s value is in their neutrality.

To be a trusted advisor an influencer must remain objective. So, for the sake of authenticity, it’s important that brands don’t expect influencers to regurgitate a brand message which is fundamentally detrimental to the brand, the influencer and the consumer. If you’re collaborating with an influencer who is the right fit then their vision should be in sync with your vision. Give them free rein to do what they do best; to educate and inspire.

[bctt tweet=”In 2020, I predict that more brands will understand the true essence of an influencer’s value: neutrality. To be a trusted advisor an influencer must remain objective. @AngelaLipscomb #B2BInfluencerMarketing #MarketingPredictions” username=”toprank”]

Finding Your Influencer Marketing Focus for 2020

According to CMI and MarketingProfs’ 2020 B2B content marketing benchmarketing report, 46% of marketers that identify as high-performers, are investing in influencer relations.

So the question remains, what will your 2020 influencer marketing journey look like? And which of the predictions above will you lean into first?

What else is on the 2020 marketing horizon? Get a glimpse with our roundup of top B2B content marketing trends and predictions for 2020.

*Disclosure: LinkedIn, Dell and SAP are TopRank Marketing clients. 

The post 10 Top B2B Influencer Marketing Predictions for 2020 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


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