When you picture social media influencers, you probably imagine the Kardashians promoting their latest makeup line or Youtubers plugging the latest trends. But this is the B2C influencer sphere.
The B2B influencer market is a whole different story.
In fact, B2B influencers are some of the most influential and trusted people in the business world.
Teaming up with a B2B influencer can help bring in new customers, build brand awareness, and establish your business as an industry leader – all much faster than traditional marketing methods can.
If you’re not sure if B2B influencer marketing could work for your business, this post will have you convinced.
Learn how to leverage LinkedIn in ways that can help you grow your business and your brand effectively.
When businesses team up with popular social media users or high-profile bloggers to promote their product or service, it’s known as influencer marketing.
Most marketers agree that it’s one of the best forms of online marketing because it instantly exposes a business to a new, often large and engaged audience.
People like and trust influencers, and so they give immediate social proof to anything they promote.
Think about Beats by Dre. Every ad features a different high-profile influencer sporting the headphones, from the Kardashians to LeBron James. This catapulted the headphones into viral popularity and the brand was eventually bought out by Apple for $3 billion.
Influencer Marketing for B2B
When you think about influencer marketing, you probably think about celebrities selling the latest drink or watch to the public. But it’s actually an incredibly powerful marketing tool for B2B businesses as well.
Differences Between B2B and B2C Influencer
Although both are centered on social media platforms, there are some key differences:
Content vs. image-driven
B2C influencer marketing tends to be heavily image-driven, since the influencers are usually promoting a product.
On the other hand, B2B is usually more content-focused with articles, webinars, lectures, etc.
It’s rare to find selfies and product promos in the B2B influencer marketing space.
B2B is also usually on a more niche, smaller scale. B2C influencers have hundreds of thousands of followers, whereas the right B2B influencer may have a smaller, but much more engaged following.
The most important distinction between B2C and B2B is that B2B influencer marketing is all about building relationships, not simply selling more products.
What are the best platforms?
B2C influencers are usually found on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.
But when it comes to B2B influencers, there is no better platform than LinkedIn.
Without over 756 million members (almost half active users), it’s the biggest professional network and home to CEOs, Fortune 500 companies, decision-makers, and some of the top business influencers in the world.
Why Should You Bother to Find LinkedIn Influencers?
If you’re in the B2B sector, you might be wondering if influencer marketing is worth it. But the numbers really speak for themselves.
- The average ROI for B2B influencer marketing is 11 times higher than traditional methods.
- Around 94% of B2B marketers that use influencer marketing say it is effective.
- Influencer marketing is the fastest-growing way to acquire new customers, with a 31% growth rate in the B2B sector.
When it comes to conversions, 80% of all B2B leads generated on social media come from LinkedIn. So it’s clear to see why B2B influencer marketing on LinkedIn is a key strategy.
And if that doesn’t convince you, here are some key benefits…
1. LinkedIn influencers speak to key decision-makers
No matter what industry you’re in, influencers in the B2B sector are followed by CEOs, CFOs, CMOs, and team leaders. These are the people you want to reach when marketing, and using influencers is a direct line to them.
2. Their opinions are trusted
Unlike many B2C influencers, B2B thought leaders are trusted and respected by thousands of followers and their opinions sway decision making.
LinkedIn is also a space for long-form content which means anything an influencer shares tends to stick in the minds of followers much more than other social platforms. Making your marketing efforts go further.
How Do You Identify Influencers on LinkedIn?
So we’ve convinced you that influencer marketing is a strategy you need to pursue. The next question is, how do you find the right influencers?
LinkedIn Influencer List
LinkedIn keeps its own updated influencer list which shows the top influencers on the platform. These people are hand-picked by the platform and are trusted experts in the business world.
However, unless you have a large, well-established brand that’s already popular, you’ll find it extremely difficult (and incredibly expensive) to collaborate with these top influencers.
Manually search for LinkedIn influencers
Use keywords to do manual searches using LinkedIn’s search bar. Keywords will bring up popular profiles associated with those keywords, giving you some ideas of people to collaborate with.
Click on a profile and check the connection count, followers, and the content they share.
You don’t need someone with hundreds of thousands of followers. In fact, a smaller, more engaged audience can be just as effective.
LinkedIn Groups in your niche are another great place to find users to collaborate with. Some of the most popular groups will have key influencers who regularly share content.
Use keywords to find relevant groups in your industry and then look to see which high-profile users get the most engagement within them.
Automating Your Search
Manually searching for influencers is a great place to start but it’s time consuming and can get frustrating when you don’t find many great options.
Automating your search is much quicker and will yield a list of influencers to reach out to almost instantly.
Zopto is a great tool to safely automate your search. You can narrow down by follower count, job title, company, and get an automatically generated list of potential influencers for your business.
Top Influencers on LinkedIn
Here are LinkedIn’s current top five influencers. This is based on their follower count, engagement, reach, and influence in their respective industries.
Melinda Gates is an author, philanthropist, and businesswoman who starts crucial conversations about women’s equality.
She regularly encourages women to run for office, gives talks on mental health, and lately has focused on the impact of the pandemic and the disproportionate impact on girls and women.
Perhaps most well known for his spot on Shark Tank, Daymond John is an investor, founder of a successful apparel line, and media personality.
He gives advice to new businesses and entrepreneurs, especially those impacted by the pandemic.
He’s known for creating Black Entrepreneurs Day and starts thought-provoking conversations on LinkedIn to help his followers overcome the challenges of starting a business.
Research, author, and podcaster Brené Brown is known for her work in overcoming burnout and stress when building a business, as well as her important work in social justice and antiracism.
She inspires a large community on LinkedIn and uses her platform to support empathy, understanding, and awareness.
Another well-known investor from Shark Tank, Mark Cuban became an influencer on LinkedIn with his creative campaign “Ask Me Anything”, where he regularly shares advice and tips for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Recently, he has become known for his differing approaches for businesses to navigate the pandemic and has an extremely engaged following.
Award-winning journalist Shaun Robinson uses her influence on LinkedIn to inspire and educate users in careers in the entertainment industry.
She hosted an incredibly popular TV series during the pandemic called 90 Day Fiance and has facilitated an ongoing series on LinkedIn which encourages open conversations with executives and filmmakers, making her an industry leader, quickly establishing her as a broadcasting industry leader.
Building and Growing Relationships With Your Influencers
Before you dive into sending messages to influencers, a key step is building up a relationship with that person. If your business is completely unknown to them, they’re much less likely to want to collaborate with you.
By taking the time to nurture your connection and become familiar to them, you’re much more likely to get a positive, eager response to a collaboration request.
1. Treat influencers as collaborators
First of all, treat every LinkedIn influencer as a collaborator, not a marketing tool. When reaching out, personalize your approach and let the person know why they’d be the perfect ambassador for your brand.
Give them an idea of how their audience would benefit and the value you can offer. You want people who believe in your business so they are passionate about communicating it with their audience.
2. Show genuine interest in their content
LinkedIn influencers are aware of the value they bring to the platform, and are careful to curate content that aligns with their brand and values.
By taking the time to show a genuine interest in what they do and engaging with their content, you’ll begin to build up the foundations needed.
But make your communications sincere. If there is a point you disagree with, do it in a respectful way, build on their points with useful additional content, and offer support. Simply liking their posts isn’t going to be enough to get you noticed.
3. Be straightforward
When you do reach out to an influencer, be straightforward with your request and why you want to collaborate with them specifically. Show you’ve done your research and know why they are the best fit.
No one likes a sales pitch, so be honest and genuine in your collaboration request as well as your own LinkedIn analytics. They’ll want to know if your business and offer are a good fit for their audience upfront.
4. Build credibility
Do you have connections in common? Did you attend the same conference? Anything you can do to build credibility with an influencer the better.
On the other hand, do you have credentials, published articles, or other factors that can boost your credibility in the eyes of a collaborator?
This all goes a long way in making your brand stand out and helping you sew the seeds of trust when building a relationship.
How To Engage With Influencers On LinkedIn
How you reach out and engage with potential influencers is key to the success of your efforts. Remember, influencers receive dozens of offers for collaborations every day so you need to stand out from the crowd.
To do this, you need to focus on choosing the right influencers and personalizing your outreach messages.
This might sound time-consuming, but Zopto can actually handle your influencer outreach for you on autopilot.
Once you’ve curated a list of influencers who would be perfect for a collaboration, Zopto will handle the outreach. You can set up personalized messages and keep track of responses right in your Zopto dashboard.
You’ll start getting responses almost immediately and be able to set up collaborations easily, without the grueling hours of trawling through LinkedIn.
Collaboration Ideas for LinkedIn Influencer Marketing
The influencers on LinkedIn aren’t influencers for a living. They are top-level CEOs, business owners, and experts in their respective fields. So any collaboration ideas need to be centered on offering their followers significant value and helping to solidify their position as an industry leader.
Here are a few popular collaboration ideas that influencers tend to respond well to and will help build your business:
Webinars and live Q&A’s
LinkedIn lives are growing in popularity year on year, so inviting an influencer to co-host a webinar or live on a specific topic is a great way to grow your audience.
Thought leaders are usually keen to co-host events, especially if the topic aligns perfectly with their area of expertise.
Choose a specific question or topic to pitch (bonus points if it’s a hot topic in your industry at the time) and let them know you’d love to get their point of view on the subject.
This is a less direct way to connect with influencers to test the waters. Create a round-up article containing viewpoints from several influencers in your industry on a specific topic.
Reach out to those influencers and ask if they’re happy to be featured in the article (almost all will be, but it’s good practice to check).
When you publish it to LinkedIn, tag any influencers mentioned in the article. Most will usually be happy to interact and even share the article since they’re in it.
This instantly boosts your article and paves the way for more involved collaborations in the future.
Interviewing an industry leader to get their viewpoint is another great way to collaborate. If you have a podcast, reach out to an influencer and ask if you can interview them on a specific topic.
If you can tie the topic into their book or recent articles, they are much more likely to want the interview. And make sure you let them know what questions you’ll be asking in advance so they know what to expect.
LinkedIn users love listening to interviews with their favorite influencers, so this will help boost your brand awareness significantly.
If your product, service, or tool is perfect for an influencer’s audience, offering an exclusive discount code for the influencer to promote is a more direct way to boost sales.
Bear in mind, influencers on LinkedIn aren’t in the sales business. So your product or service would need to be well aligned with their audience and message.
If an influencer or well-known LinkedIn user already uses your business, asking them to post about it on LinkedIn with a custom coupon code is an easy and effective way to utilize that.
Calculating ROI for Influencer Marketing on LinkedIn
It’s crucial to track the ROI of any influencer collaboration to make sure it’s worth the investment in both effort and marketing budget.
There are six key performance indicators for LinkedIn influencer marketing:
- Distribution: How many followers are you reaching?
- Engagement: How many likes, comments, and shares are you getting?
- Insights: Are you getting useful feedback?
- Return on Relationship (ROR): What value have you got from nurturing the relationship with the influencer
- Sales Lift: What percentage has your sales increased by?
- User-Generated Content (UGC): Have you got a boost in content shared by your followers?
You will only need to track one or two of these, and which you choose will depend on the overall goals of your marketing efforts.
Know your budget
Most influencers charge for collaborations, and it’s important to have a budget set out before you dive into a new relationship.
In general, you can expect to pay $10 per thousand users reached for social media influencers, so the overall cost is going to be dependent on the influencer’s follower count and engagement level.
If you expect to reach 100,000 LinkedIn users with your collaboration, it can cost around $1000. This cost will need to factor into your ROI.
Examples of Successful LinkedIn Influencer Marketing
Successful influencer campaigns will look vastly different in different industries and niches, but here are some examples of fantastic collaborations to give you an idea of how effective they can be.
Telecommunications company Mitel wanted to raise awareness for their brand and build credibility for their remote working solutions. So they decided to collaborate with remote work experts on LinkedIn to highlight challenges and solutions companies face with a growing number of employees working remotely.
They used a variety of content formats including a livestream on LinkedIn including several paid influencers and a Mitel executive.
By hosting a talk on the challenges of remote work, including experts in the field, and featuring people who work remotely successfully, Mitel established themselves as a thought leader and gave credibility to their software.
Source: Top Rank Blog
Prophix wanted a way to engage LinkedIn users to showcase their FP&A software and advertise their upcoming webinar on the 2020 CFO Benchmark Report.
To do this, they created a carousel post that included information from a key financial industry influencer, Jack McCullough (CFO of Leadership Council).
This simple yet effective collaboration resulted in over 1,500 organic impressions and almost 200 visits to their webinar sign-up page.
Source: Top Rank Blog
Oracle wanted to grow awareness and engagement among digital banking decision-makers on LinkedIn (their target audience), and so they teamed up with MOI Global to publish a research paper on banking practices and consumer expectations.
By speaking directly to their target clients and partnering with a major influencer in the industry, Oracle was able to yield 350,000 new contacts and over $28 million in the pipeline. It even got nominated for two categories of B2B Marketing Awards in 2019.
No matter what industry you’re in, influencer marketing is one of the best forms of marketing on LinkedIn.
With a platform filled with engaged, active decision-makers, utilizing influencers allows you to connect with potential clients directly and skyrocket your brand awareness faster than traditional marketing methods ever could.
The key is getting the best ROI and that means automating as much of the outreach process as possible. The last thing you want to do is spend hours of your day searching for influencers to collaborate with, only to not hear back from most of them.
Get your influencer marketing off to a great start with Zopto. By automating your outreach you’ll save countless hours and start seeing results that much fast. Schedule a demo with our representatives today.