Engaging with Influencers on Social Media

on January 6, 2016

Engaging with Influencers on Social Media

In your B2B marketing initiatives, are you only engaging with prospective customers on social media?

If that’s all you’re doing, you should broaden your horizons.

Of course, nurturing your leads through multiple touchpoints in your sales funnel is paramount.  However, don’t ignore influencers—respected industry leaders, celebrities, bloggers, consultants, authors, and academics—who can turn out to be some of your biggest fans.

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As a B2B marketer, engaging with influencers in your market can translate quite easily to building the prominence of your brand.  The influencers themselves, once they’re in a mutually-beneficial relationship with you, will happily promote your content and spread awareness of your brand to their followers.  That means one thing: potential new waves of leads for your company.  When considering a purchase, 72% of B2B buyers refer to peer opinions. Meaning that those who reach out to peer influencers as part of well-constructed campaigns, are primed to succeed in their broader marketing initiatives.

In this article, we’ll discuss some best practices to follow as you supplement your B2B campaigns with outreach to influencers.

Define both general and specific marketing objectives for reaching out to influencers

Before reaching out to anyone and everyone with the slightest amount of fame in your industry, you’ll want to know why you’re embarking on an influencer marketing campaign.  This way, you’ll know what you want to get out of it, and how to track the value of those new relationships in your overall marketing strategy.

Some of the broader goals might be as follows:

You can also set your sights on achieving highly-specific marketing objectives through influencer marketing.  If your organization has defined goals using the SMART system—that is, goals that are “specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and time-bound”—you can design your influencer marketing accordingly.  For example:

Influencer marketing works, but only if you have a clear sense of purpose going into it.  Once you develop a clear vision as to why you want industry leaders on your side, you’re ready to meet those people.

Find out who the influencers are in your industry

The next step in your influencer marketing journey is to find out who those influencers are.  Fortunately, many experts have a strong web presence and are highly active on social media, so finding great prospects can be fairly straightforward.

Here are a few methods for finding the most compelling influencers in your market:

Now that you have a list of influencers, it’s time to vet them. Not all of them will be ideal for doing business with.  Narrow down your list by asking yourself the following questions about the individuals on your list:

The above might seem like a lot of questions, but they’re necessary for narrowing down your list to the very best prospects for engagement.  You only need 3-5 strong prospects to start.

Begin following and engaging with influencers via content and social channels

Finally, you have a handful of industry insiders that you’re ready to begin building a relationship with: the foundation for new and greater things in your marketing initiatives.  By proceeding with a willingness to give before receiving, and letting the relationship unfold naturally, you’ll find your connections with influencers will lead directly to more powerful and efficient marketing overall.

Here are a few steps to initiate influencer relationships:

Every relationship with an industry influencer will unfold differently.  But by tending to each one, the benefits—in terms of increased leads, and greater brand recognition among prospects—will begin to manifest.

Track your influencer relationships as you would your marketing campaigns

Finally, remember that your influencer marketing strategy is part of a grand design.  You’ll want to track how well your relationships with thought leaders are improving your KPIs and your overall marketing ROI.

To measure the success of your influencer marketing, check all of the typical metrics you would with other marketing campaigns.  Using your social media management tool, track increases in social engagements, likes and follows, as well as website traffic and conversions, that result directly from your influencer marketing.

Over time, you’ll be able to determine ROI directly from individual relationships, and you’ll see which ones are worth investing in further—especially if said relationships are moving towards advocacy and partnerships—and which others you might spend less time on building.  In the latter case, it’s still worthwhile to be friendly and cordial.  You never know when an influencer’s personal branding might take off, bringing new waves of prospects to your doors.

In the end, influencer marketing can only mean great things for your brand.  Be sure to take full advantage of this tactic using the steps above, secure your standing among the best and brightest experts in your field, and your new customers will thank you for it.

Cover Image via @Scott Anderson

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