The opportunities for B2B businesses to use UK influencers in their marketing campaigns may not be as obvious as with commercial products. But a little creative thinking can open up a world of possibilities.
And the rewards can be well worth the effort. According to a Nielsen study with TapInfluence, B2B influencer marketing leads to eleven times the ROI of traditional advertising.
But where do you start? One of the trickiest questions that B2Bs start out asking is: which influencers should I work with? Take a step back and remember that the role of influencers is different for B2B. You’ll need to take a broad look at who influences your audience and understand where to find your professional audience online.
We look at the different ways that B2Bs can use influencers to their advantage, taking examples of the best UK influencers to illustrate how it works in practice.
How B2Bs can work with micro-influencers in the UK
Often, UK influencer campaigns are focused on finding big names with big followings – easily recognisable faces telling you why they love a certain lip balm or smoothie. But the best B2B influencers come in different guises and don’t necessarily have the biggest audience.
The trick is to seek out the people who are most relevant to your target audience, people they trust for advice and feel a connection with.
This is where micro-influencers come in. These are the people who have smaller, more dedicated audiences who follow them because they share the same interests or work in the same industry. They often look to the micro-influencer for insights, advice or guidance and trust the information that they provide.
UK micro-influencers case study: #BuiltWithBosch
Bosch understands that their core audience will not buy a power tool because a celebrity says that they should. To be authentic, they need to show how real tradespeople use their products in real situations.
So, they teamed up with tradespeople and gave them products to try out. The micro-influencers posted videos of themselves using the tools on their YouTube accounts with the hashtag #builtwithBosch. They soon racked up tens of thousands of views and there are now nearly 8,000 Instagram posts tagged with the campaign hashtag.
How B2Bs can work with experts
Think about the problems that your followers are facing and what information they need to help them solve these problems.
When experts can help you provide this information or insight, they instantly become influential to your audience base. You may not have the necessary expertise in-house, but by being associated with the people who do, you can provide value to your audience.
UK influencers case study: Quickbooks ‘Ask The Expert’
During lockdown, accounting software company Quickbooks saw that its core users of small- and medium-sized businesses needed expert advice to help them through the pandemic.
Quickbooks used a range of techniques to fully understand their customers’ needs. This involved social listening and observing search trends and gathering information from the customer care workstream.
From here, they identified external experts who could address their customers’ concerns. They teamed up with a range of entrepreneur influencers in the UK. These included well-known names like chef Tom Aikens and Made in Chelsea star Georgia Toffolo, and successful business owners and entrepreneurs.
The result was ‘Ask The Expert’, interactive Q&A sessions hosted by a different business expert every day on a live YouTube video stream. Their followers could ask questions in the comments section of YouTube or Facebook or use the #QBATE hashtag on Twitter for the expert to answer in real-time.
The campaign has been a huge success, with over 1m organic views and over 78,000 engagements.
The Ask The Expert videos remain live on Quickbooks’ YouTube channel, providing practical advice for its users to access whenever they need it.
How B2B influencer campaigns can play with the format
The best UK influencer campaigns aren’t always social media-first. Consider the different types of content that your users consume and where influencers can fit into them.
One avenue is producing podcasts with influencers in the interview seat. Not only can you produce useful, relatable interviews, you can also create a range of social content off the back of it. For example:
- Ask your social followers what questions they’d like to ask the influencer before you conduct the interview
- Create short audiograms to post on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
- Use short quotes of top tips with a headshot of the influencer as teaser posts across social
- Transcribe the interview and post a long-form article on LinkedIn
UK influencers case study: The Alan Turing podcast
The Turing Trust empowers disadvantaged communities using information technology-enabled learning, but it needed to generate awareness of its work with potential funders to help increase donations.
The Turing Trust podcast started as a way to align the trust with some of the most influential names in technology-enabled education. So far, interviewees have included Richard Potter, from Microsoft’s Worldwide Digital Partnerships Team, Jon Slowe, founding director of Delta-EE and Tessa Clarke, CEO and Co-Founder of OLIO.
Featuring big industry names like this gives The Turing Trust authority and showcases its name into wider circles in the tech industry.
Influencer podcasts on a global scale
This is a tactic that can work no matter what size the business. Dell’s Luminaries podcast is an example of a global business taking the same model out to its audience.
The podcasts feature in-depth conversations with technology ‘luminaries’ about best practices for business growth, proving that even household company names can benefit from working with influencers.
How B2Bs can work with employees
One of the easiest to access – but often overlooked – influencer groups for B2Bs is your employees. After all, they know the most about your business, share your passion for what you do and they probably have a network of contacts who share similar interests.
LinkedIn says the click-through rate is two times higher when content is shared by employees. And remember that business founders and executives count too. 39% of decision-makers said thought leadership content had influenced them to ask a vendor to participate in the RFP process.
Not everyone who works for you will be a natural influencer, though. If you decide to go down the employee advocacy route, consider who has the interest and drive to do it well, and be prepared to guide and support them.
Employee advocates as influencers: #LifeInsideDropbox
Dropbox’s #LifeInsideDropbox campaign is a brilliant example of making employees the star on their social feeds. A quick scroll down the feed shows employees posting about their first week in their new role, employee volunteering schemes and the benefits of flexible working.
By encouraging staff to post about their personal experiences, Dropbox can present a true picture of working at the company without the corporate spin. And, by making LinkedIn the main campaign channel, it targets and attracts new talent to the business.