B2B Influencer Marketing (A Tech Influencer’s Perspective)
We recently decided to freshen up our brand at TechMode a little. This involved a splash of new colours, and the odd font update, but during the process we also decided to ask a few of the wonderful people we work with, whether they’d be happy to write a short testimonial.
It’s a funny thing, but I found this process quite nerve-wracking. Asking the people we work so closely with, in sometimes very intense and high octane environments, made my tummy turn. Especially when those same people are some of the top ranking tech influencers in the world. While we waited for the responses to come back, I reminded myself that anything which makes you look ‘outside-in’ is a good thing, and thankfully... I was truly touched by the responses.
Diana Adams, Tech Journalist & Thought Leader, put it this way…
“Last week, Beverley asked me if I’d consider writing a testimonial for the new TechMode website. She asked for “only a few sentences, and only when I have time.” The result of that request is this blog post. Sorry ladies, I know this is longer than a few sentences!”
I could quote some of the wonderful things she kindly wrote about TechMode here, but being British I’m already blushing a deep shade of claret ;) I will say that she decided to title the blog: ‘3 Reasons I Love Working with TechMode (an Influencer’s Perspective).’While I appreciated the first part of this sentence (thank you Diana!), I actually preferred the part in brackets, and that, along with some of the important general points she raised as a B2B Influencer working in the tech space, spurred me to write this article.
Here are three of the points Diana made, as someone actively working in this space, that I wanted to highlight:
1. “In 2019, it’s no longer a question of whether or not a tech brand will use influencers. Instead, it’s a question of how much money they’ll set aside in their budgets for an influencer marketing campaign.”
I couldn’t agree more with this statement. Having recently stumbled across a great podcast by Walter Jennings (Influencers Today) I found this point being further highlighted during an interview he conducted with author Joel Backaler, as they picked apart one of the opening subtitles in his book ‘Digital Influence’, which reads: ‘Interruption Marketing is Dead. Long Live Influencer Marketing’
So it’s interesting, therefore, that in the Influencer Marketing Hub’s ‘2019 Benchmark Report: The State of Influencer Marketing’ they revealed that of the 800 Agencies and Brands surveyed, only 31% of Influencer Campaigns are currently in the B2B space. Further to that, I recently heard Daniel Sanchez, CEO of Influencer tracking platform Influencity, explain that only around 15% of the Influencer Campaigns they see are B2B, for example.
It will come as no surprise then that I still spend a huge part of my time explaining what B2B Influencer Marketing entails and how I believe it is an essential addition to any tech companies existing B2B Marketing & Communications strategy, and should ideally become an integral part.
And why? Well, that in itself is the start of a conversation that would well overspill the edges of this particular LinkedIn article, but one that I hope to talk more about in the coming weeks and months as we plan to share more of our own TechMode learnings from the B2B Influencer marketing rollercoaster.
For anyone reading this who is completely new to the concept of B2B Influencer marketing, I will leave one initial tip here in the meantime - don’t make the mistake of assuming it works in the same way as B2C Influencer marketing. There are, of course, some core similarities. But there are also stark differences. One major one being that the ‘Social Influencer’ working on a B2B campaign is, and must be, someone who is knowledgeable about the related segment(s) of the Industry, and therefore the products and services they are creating content around. Although it might also be the case in B2C, it is definitely not a prerequisite. This brings me to the second point Diana made that I wanted to highlight.
2. “I never set out to become an influencer (I suppose some people set a goal to do that). Truth is, I don’t even really like the word “influencer.” I like tech. More accurately, I like tech A LOT. I’ve worked in emerging technologies for over 20 years.”
For this reason, I personally struggle using the term ‘Influencer’ when relating to some of the amazing people we work with, such as Dez Blanchfield, Ronald Van Loon, Lillian Pierson, Kevin Jackson or Evan Kirstel ...to name but a few! Yes, they have influence. Yes, they have a following. Yes, they create content which has a broad reach or higher than average levels of engagement. But they are also highly successful individuals who have worked years within a certain field, grown (and often sold) their own companies, written books, articles and sometimes even legislation on the related topics. They give Keynotes, run courses, contribute to mainstream media, count numerous company CEO, CTO & other leaders within their personal networks, and so much more. So you could say that some of the connotations which have become synonymous with the term ‘Influencer’ in the B2C space - to use an extreme example ‘an individual who has mastered the art of the perfect selfie with [insert global brand] product placement’ - fall short when relating to, in this case, global thought leaders in the technology space.
Personally I’d love to find a new term to use, but for now it will remain a matter of semantics.
This leads me on to the third and final quote I wanted to pull out of Diana’s blog.
3. “Ask any influencer, and they’ll tell you that many brands want to approve every piece of content before you post it — or even worse, they want to write the content. They don’t understand that by micromanaging the process, they are hurting their own campaign.”
Given the point I just made with regard to the type of person one is typically dealing with in B2B Tech Influencer campaigns, then it stands to reason that they need to be given creative freedom in order to generate great content. From a brand's perspective this can be a hard thing to truly get, and I appreciate that as well. We’ve also found ourselves in this situation with clients at times and it is one of the many challenges to overcome within the job. But our goal is always to support the Influencer (AKA thought leader) in doing what it is they do best, and most of the time that simply means providing them with whatever input they need from the brand… and then getting out of the way while they work their creative magic!
Well as promised, we'll be sharing more learnings from the B2B Tech Influencer Marketing space over the coming months, so if this was of interest, please check back! If you work for a tech company and have any specific questions in the meantime, then please feel free to reach out to us directly at TechMode, or pop a comment below, and if I can’t answer it, I’ll do my best to find one of the wonderful people we work with who can! ;)