Unleashing the Power of the Influencer in Your Next B2B Campaign

Unleashing the Power of the Influencer in Your Next B2B Campaign
October 17, 2014 PRSA-Author

“Using influencers to solely drive awareness is as cost-effective as a Paula Deen fitness camp. The key to effective use of influencers is their ability to cause behavior.” – @jaybaer @branderati

A recent article on Forbes.com, The Explosive Growth Of Influencer Marketing And What It Means For You, talks to the new role of influencers as brand advocates in the social media space. Influencers, defined in the article as individuals who have influence over potential buyers, once sought out for their reach, are now favored by brands based on their expertise, credibility and relationships.

This all makes sense and is very readily practiced in the consumer brand world but what about those B2B campaigns? How do we use these consumer brand powerful influencers to promote our B2B products and release the B2B stigma of being dry and (shall I say) uninspiring? In this piece, I’d like to visit the world of the influencer and how you can leverage their power as a part of your next B2B public relations campaign.

If you are like me, you are likely intrigued by the number of B2B campaigns that are starting to leverage the old tried-and-true tactics of a typical B2C campaign. Recent examples of some great B2B campaigns include:

  • Xerox’s “Get Optimistic” campaign where Xerox partnered with Forbes to create a custom magazine to reach senior level executives at top accounts. Xerox needed a campaign that stood out in a crowded solutions-based industry. The “Get Optimistic” magazine proved to be valuable content and not just another piece of marketing material.
  • General Electric, who continues its presence on Vine with a series of six second videos, recently celebrated the first walk on the moon in their #MoonPrints campaign. GE proves it’s in the “feels like B2C” game by partnering up with top Viner Marcus Johns and Buzz Aldrin, who also promotes GE’s launch on Snapchat, another social outlet gaining a lot of brand attention.
  • There are many businesses who started to actively blog as a way of creating their own story, becoming an integral part of their content marketing strategy. Last May, HubSpot spotlighted 10 B2B companies that were taking blogging very seriously.

So how can you get the power of the influencer to start working for you and your next B2B PR campaign? Here are four ideas worth considering:

  1. Introduce a blogger campaign. Bloggers have certainly changed the media landscape and their influence will continue to grow as more and more industry experts find their way to the blogosphere looking for credible brand advocates. And bloggers are not just for your B2C brands, there are many bloggers out there that are experts in B2B. The bloggers you choose will of course depend on the industry you are in. For instance, if you are in the events industry and want other businesses to catch wind of your great event expertise you might enlist one of these bloggers. Or, if you are in the advertising industry you might consider onboarding one of these bloggers on your next awareness campaign. Before you begin your blogger campaign check out my previous blog on The Dos and Don’ts of Paid Blogger Partnership and Four Tips on How to Run a Successful Blogger Campaign.
  2. Conduct a subject matter expert (SME) Twitter chat. Twitter chats are becoming increasingly popular these days and serve as a great way to communicate real time with your target audience without the costs and logistics of an actual event. One company that seems to be using this tool quite well in the B2B marketplace is Cisco Systems. Cisco Tweet chat gives interested businesses an opportunity to weigh in on products and tools to support their company. Cisco recently hosted a Twitter chat with a product SME to promote their FastIT campaign promoting with hashtags  #InnovativeThink and #FutureOfIT. Cisco also uses their worldwide CiscoLive! conferences as a launching pad to conduct live Twitter chats with key speakers throughout the event. So if you can’t make it to the conferences in Italy, Mexico, Australia or California you can jump onto your Twitter account to get your questions answered.
  3. Rally around a celebrity chef. Oh, the power of a chef. The rise of the chef to celebrity status has created a huge opportunity for brands to get their message to the right audience. Chefs can be involved in B2B campaigns in many ways including: hosting of a key influencer event, development of new assets to further promote your brand and product line (recipes, how-to videos, photography, testimonials) and through product usage and endorsement (on menus, TV or online programming).
  4. Partner with a social media maven. When we think of GE our thoughts do not go to a six-second Vine video as being part of its content marketing strategy. But GE knew a good thing when it saw it. Using an extremely popular social media tool and partnering with one of its most followed members, GE was able to make its highly technical content and attributes look very cool. Top Viners, Marcus Johns, Nicholas Megalis and Jerome Jarre have all jumped on the bandwagon too. Vining for brands like Virgin Mobile USA and Trident Gum.

Hopefully you found this blog beneficial. At the very least, I hope it helps to inspire some creativity as you embark on bringing a little B2C flavor to your next B2B PR campaign.

Photo credit: Sean MacEntee on Flickr

Post Author

Manejah Morad Terzi Manejah Morad Terzi is at Revelry Agency (formerly Salt Communications), an agency focusing on the food, beverage, travel and hospitality sectors. She concentrates on B2B and B2C public relations campaigns and communications strategy. Contact her at mterzi@revelryagency.com or follow her on Twitter @Manejah for questions or any B2B and B2C article idea suggestions.


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