Back in the day, influencer marketing was pretty much limited to celebrity endorsements. Brands would chase celebrities to push their products and participate in their marketing campaigns. Traditional celebrity endorsements were so expensive that only the wealthiest companies could afford them.
Social media has given birth to a new generation of celebrities: influencers.
An influencer is anyone who’s built a substantial audience of people who follow and take cues from them. Depending on their location or niche, they could have a few hundred followers to millions.
Brand collaborations with such influencers can significantly increase brand awareness and revenue — even for B2B companies — when done correctly. It’s no wonder influencer marketing spending has grown steadily in the last few years. Projections show brands will spend a record $4.6 billion on influencer marketing by 2023. Innovative B2B companies are continuing to integrate influencer marketing into their full-spectrum demand generation strategy, treating the tactic as another means to build brand equity, reach new audiences and, ultimately, attribute revenue and measure ROI.
Within these holistic demand gen programs, branded content partnerships with influencers are one of the most effective ways to run successful influencer marketing campaigns. It helps expose your brand to potential customers and boost credibility with target audiences.
But, how exactly should you run these campaigns? This article will explore ways your business could use branded content partnerships with influencers to increase revenue.
Dedicated partnership messages
Dedicated partnership messages distributed by the right influencers can increase your revenue significantly. Studies show that consumers trust influencers more than traditional advertisements and celebrity endorsements. Furthermore, reports show that eight out of ten consumers have purchased a product after seeing a recommendation by a social media influencer.
Using influencers to distribute dedicated partnership messages about your product is one of the most effective ways to boost sales. Plus, the ROI is pretty decent, with studies suggesting an average earning of $5.78 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. Depending on the nature of your campaign, you can earn up to $18 per $1 spent.
Dedicated partnership messages can take many forms. The key is to make sure the partnership and message come off as natural, and that there is an authentic connection between your product or service and what an influencer is actually known for. Therefore, in addition to finding the right partner, the message should align with what the influencer usually posts.
Smart influencer search
Once you’ve decided to include influencer marketing in your overall inbound strategy, you’ll need to find the right ones. Various tools make finding the perfect influencers for your brand a straightforward process. For example, BuzzSumo connects you with influencers on YouTube, Twitter, and other social networks. All you have to do is search the topic of interest in the relevant tool, e.g., “email marketing” on the Facebook or Twitter tool. The tool will display top influencers around that topic for that social media platform.
You can also refine your search to find even more relevant influencers. For example, you can filter the results to get influencers within a specific geographic area, e.g., in the United States alone. You can even use the language filter to identify influencers speaking a particular language.
Before contacting anyone you find, practice due diligence and review their content and online presence. Once they’re out in the market engaging with your audience and community, they’re an ambassador and have the potential to alter your reputation.
Another tactic to find top influencers is by analyzing your competition. One easy way to do that is by analyzing the competitor’s domain through research tools like Alexa and Buzzsumo. These tools will show you tons of data, including the top sharers of specific pieces of content. Those sharers are potential brand partners you could approach.
For B2B companies, influencer marketing is part of a larger demand generation program that complements other key channels like email, paid advertising and sales enablement. Unless you’re working with a high-level brand ambassador who’s a ‘household name’, you’ll want to design and develop your content strategy and position, then find an influencer whose content aligns with that strategy — not the other way around.
When searching for influencers, you should know that a larger audience doesn’t always guarantee better results. You should also include micro-influencers in your outreach list; they can get you higher engagement at a fraction of the cost of mega influencers. One report by the Influencer Marketing Hub showed smaller influencers generate more engagements than macro or mega influencers.
Invite influencers to events and user conferences
Demand generation marketers can use collaborations to create pre-event buzz, helping to build more awareness and attract leads. Collaborating with the right influencers can also add credibility to your events as they speak your audience’s language.
Brand collaborations with influencers for events work even better when you support them with a social media strategy and relevant hashtags. For example, you can invite the top influencers in your industry for a product launch event and have them Tweet, Instagram, or Vlog about the product. Beyond product launches, you can partner with influencers for other key events like partnership announcements, report launches and conferences.
SAP is an excellent example of a B2B brand that has leveraged influencer marketing multiple times to promote its events successfully. In 2016, the company invited eleven key influencers from different niches for their annual Sapphire event. The influencers conducted interviews with experts attending the event. They also met SAP executives and tried out a few SAP products.
The influencers streamed these interviews with their fans through Facebook live. According to a report shared on LinkedIn, these interviews generated 17% of the online engagement around that event. SAP executed another influencer marketing campaign for their IoT Launch event. This campaign was even more successful (the hashtag created for that event ended up trending on Twitter).
Branded content for Reels and Stories
The rapid rise of TikTok showed that consumers love short-form video content. Platforms like Instagram and YouTube also have their version in the form of Reels and Shorts.
While more common among consumer brands and B2C companies, B2B businesses can use branded short-form videos in various ways. For example, you could partner with an influencer to create a short clip explaining a software feature. You could also create videos giving a quick demo of your product.
Adobe offers another strong example of branded content. Their #WomenCreateWednesday campaign brings creatives of all shapes from virtually all industries. They create short clips explaining what their journeys as creatives have entailed.
By partnering with macro- and micro-influencers such as Mimi Choi and Grace Wells, Adobe expands its reach, attracted more customers and built even more brand awareness.
Create software walkthroughs and unboxing videos
Educational and unboxing videos are some of the best performing types of content on YouTube. Marketers can capitalize on the popularity of these videos to generate leads and get more brand exposure.
Salesforce is an excellent example of a company that utilizes YouTube influencers. They partner with strategic YouTube creators whose audiences overlap with their target audience.
For example, they sponsored Veritasium’s YouTube videos where the influencer dedicated a significant portion of the video discussing what the software can do for business owners. Now, you should know that Veritasium has a pretty knowledgeable audience with some high-profile viewers. That makes them a decent partner for a SaaS company like Salesforce.
The video garnered more than 2.6 million views and over 109,000 likes. Besides sponsoring a portion of a YouTube video, collaborate with an influencer to get an entire video dedicated to your product. Of course, these campaigns cost more, but they’ll also give your brand maximum attention.
In a digital era where consumer trust stems from social proof, B2B marketers should seriously consider influencer marketing as an additional tactical channel for demand generation. But like any workstream built to drive revenue for your business, make sure your goals here are fundamentally connected with your growth strategy. Align the creative approach to your overall content strategy. Seek to maximize ROI. Be selective about how you position your brand — and who you select to broadcast that positioning.
Done right, a branded content partnership with the right influencer can unlock new audiences for your business and provide the social proof that buyers look for as they become lifetime customers.
David Pagotto is the Founder and Managing Director of SIXGUN, a digital marketing agency based in Melbourne. He has been involved in digital marketing for over 10 years, helping organizations get more customers, more reach, and more impact.
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