This content comes from Wildfire’s five step guide to effective influence relations. To view all five steps, and for other research, content and advice about B2B influencer relations, download the full guide here.
- Think relevance, not reach.
For many consumer brands, influencer relations is all about having the biggest social following. But for B2B, reach isn’t everything. Influencers with a small, tight-knit audience can be far more effective advocates. In B2B, a niche following that both engages. Social media is a good starting point to build an influencer list, but it isn’t everything. Don’t over-rely on Twitter or LinkedIn searches. Check out who’s speaking at events, blogging, and writing in the trade press. Most important of all, look for the people saying something controversial. So much of what’s said in the B2B space is BORING, so people are naturally drawn to influencers who go against the grain.
- Be seen before you’re heard.
B2B influencers build their reputations on trust, credibility and expertise. This means they’re unlikely to associate themselves with brands they don’t recognise or respect. So before emailing influencers asking to be friends, take the time to get your brand in front of them. A combination of social media stalking (research) and traditional media relations goes a long way. Find out which blogs and news sites they follow on social media and those they regularly quote, share and retweet. Focusing your PR efforts on this media can make a big impact on your target influencers — especially if your content relates to their area of expertise. A couple of months of this proactive scene-setting can really pay off. When you reach out to your influencers, you’re not a stranger, but a trusted source.
- Think expertise, not endorsements.
These days, it’s pretty common to pay influencers for endorsements — especially in the consumer space. Some B2B influencers will take payment to post content and endorse brands, but it’s rarely a good idea. If you’ve got budget available, pay for the influencer’s expertise. They could speak at your events or write a column on your company’s blog. The initial goal should be promoting the influencer on your channels — not getting your brand on theirs. If they enjoy this process, they’ll almost always share the resulting content. It helps them to promote their expert status, provides you with a credible endorsement, and drives links to your branded content. Win, win, win.