B2B influencers: what are they good for? Well, quite a lot as it turns out. According to a recent article on the Forbes website, the biggest influencers of B2B Tech CMOs in 2016 were a combination of C-level executive, author, professional speaker and trend predictor - all in one nicely wrapped bundle.
The top influencers were gauged by LeadTail, a social media insights research company, who tracked more than 30,000 public tweets from its panel of B2B tech company CMOs over the course of last year, to see what they were talking about.
The research found that while many B2B tech influencers excel - not surprisingly - at communicating what they know, most of them are also masters of capitalising on expert insights from others to curate and create their own compelling, authoritative content. They are the consummate 'magpies' of the digital era.
Top B2B influencers are also adept at discussing current trends in detail and make insightful predictions about future trends. For example, Jill Rowley (@jill_rowley) predicts that the marrying of social selling and sales enablement will align them "to, with, for and around the customer" this year.
She also foresees more companies moving away from informal approaches, to developing integrated, holistic social selling strategies that provide sales teams with the tools, knowledge and content needed to do the job.
Meanwhile, B2B influencer Vala Afshar (@ValaAfshar) notes that personalisation, intelligence and immediacy are the main contributing factors to success for both business buyers and consumers. Digital-savvy marketers will need to focus on three areas in 2017 - customer journeys, precision marketing and intelligent sales - and recognise that the customer experience is the main 'battle ground' for standing out from the crowd.
In terms of branding, Tamara McCleary (@TamaraMcCleary) predicts that marketers will leverage the power of technology in 2017 to make their brands appear more 'human'. High-tech tools, AI and big data analysis will build deeper levels of customer engagement and help brands to manage the customer journey.
The study also shows that influencers are, as the kids say, 'on point' when it comes to what's going on in the B2B realm - so, ignore them at your peril.
And the thing that I love most about LeadTail's research? It demonstrates that one of the things foremost B2B influencers have in common is that they've mastered the art of curating great content from other experts and thought leaders. And the great news is that this means that the 'top table' of B2B influence is open to almost anyone who, like them, can master the art of effective curation.
So maybe it's time to update the old 'it's not what you know - it's who you know' adage. In the digital age, it's not just what you know - it's also how you leverage what your social media connections know.
I'll leave you with a great quote I came across this week from the head of innovation at one of the world's biggest media companies which I feel sums this up perfectly:
"The reality of the modern age is that I learned more in one year of a well-curated Twitter feed than in my entire masters degree."