As influencer marketing continues to gather pace in the B2B world, it's worth taking stock of how well B2Bs are actually playing the game. Are influencers being used effectively? Are they driving engagement? And are they being incorporated into wider marketing strategies?
A recent article on Business2Community should give B2B marketers pause for thought. It discussed the findings of 'Influence 2.0: The Future of Influencer Marketing' - a report conducted by TopRank Marketing and Traackr. They reveal some uncomfortable truths about the state of B2B influencer marketing...
B2B brands are still at the stage of figuring out what works
Even though influencer marketing is still a relatively new marketing concept, B2Cs are way ahead of the curve, using big-name bloggers, vloggers and reality TV stars to boost the awareness and credibility of their products. They are creating more ongoing and campaign-driven initiatives than their B2B counterparts - 49% of whom are still experimenting.
No-one knows who's actually responsible!
A key takeaway from the report is that brands have to put the time and effort into building and sustaining influencer relationships if they wish to scale their results. But worryingly, the survey did not reveal a clear leader in terms of who's supposed to be responsible for or spearheading these efforts. Some respondents said that it was down to the marketing department, while others said PR. So no prizes for guessing the result: in many organisations influencer marketing is falling down the cracks.
B2Bs aren't seeing the bigger picture
Almost half (48%) of B2C influencer marketing programmes are ongoing, which means they are part of a long-term effort to build influencer relationships for adding to campaigns in the future - as opposed to being one-off deals. In contrast, just 11% of B2B brands are running ongoing influencer programmes. As the article notes, this probably comes back to the fact that they're still experimenting with influencers and aren't sure of the actual value these parties bring to the table, so they don't want to risk wasting their time and resources. However, if they want to see long-term results, they'll need to look past the here and now and find creative ways to make these experts part of their long-term strategies.
As influencer marketing becomes integrated into all facets of marketing - something that 57% of the survey respondents believe will happen - B2Bs will hopefully learn to formulate more inspiring content and campaigns. After all, it wasn't so long ago that people said social media would never catch on for B2Bs...and we know how that ended up!
I’m conscious that I’ve mainly focused here on why influencer marketing hasn't yet caught fire for most B2Bs. So in my next post I’ll be accentuating the positive, by zeroing in on how B2Bs can hit the influencer marketing bullseye.