Leveraging the authority of LinkedIn influencers for B2B - ClickZ

30-second summary:

  • Influencers can generally be classified into three categorical buckets: aspirational, authoritative, and peer.
  • Avoid fixating on sales when it comes to influencer KPIs, consider other levels of the sales funnel that create the compulsion to purchase.
  • Leverage influencers within the entire LinkedIn ecosystem from groups to Sales Navigator campaigns.
  • Consider social shares and other amplification tactics to maximize budget.

Most B2B marketers immediately dismiss influencer marketing as a vacuous activity only undertaken by their B2C counterparts to sell pretty packaging through anxiety-riddled models in between a morning green tea cleanse product post and a beach sunset photo.

It is far more complex and nuanced of a subject.

For B2B enterprises, the decision to employ influencer marketing comes down to a few key questions:

  1. Which influencer type is ideal?
  2. What KPI is the influencer being measured against?
  3. Which channel makes the most sense for this campaign?
  4. How does an enterprise go about creating and managing an effective influencer campaign based on the above?

To keep this discussion brief, influencers can generally be classified into three categorical buckets: aspirational, authoritative, and peer. As a definition, the aspirational influencer is a celebrity type, often with a large following, aspirational influencers are what most think of when visualizing what an influencer might look like.

The peer influencer, by contrast, is the everyday dad stopping at the grocery store on the way home from the office, your fishing enthusiast uncle on Facebook, (Read more...) you to your next-door neighbor.

The authoritative influencer is the perceived topical expert on a subject. For the purposes of B2B influencer marketing, in this use case, we want to appeal to authority.

Content created in partnership with Intellifluence.

How to find authoritative LinkedIn influencers

Having determined that authoritative influencers as arbiters of expertise are the appropriate influencer type to focus on for the B2B campaign, what KPI should they be held accountable towards?

This can be a difficult question unless the influencer is somehow tightly engrained within the sales and marketing teams, it is somewhat unreasonable to expect the influencer will be responsible for sales. This is doubly true for high priced and complicated purchases which may demand multiple meetings to collect requirements and receive buy-in from multiple stakeholders. If not sales, then what level of the sales process?

Lead generation? Perhaps, especially if what is being recommended is a single visit-to-conversion product.

Moving up in the funnel, how about attention and desire? This makes much more sense. Getting your product or service in the hands of an industry expert who can stoke the flames of want and need is precisely the use case authoritative influencers are perfect for.

Now having selected the type of influencer and the probable KPI to focus on when including influencers in B2B, which channel makes the most sense for your campaign? As an intelligent reader, you naturally understand that we will be using LinkedIn for this exercise. However, this is not the only channel capable of satisfying the requirements: notably YouTube and Twitter come to mind as well in terms of being able to supply ample interest from an expertise vector. That said, LinkedIn, being the professionals’ network, is an easy place to start with LinkedIn influencers.

What is the best B2B campaign type to run at LinkedIn?

Within the LinkedIn ecosystem, one has several ways to leverage these influencers from using groups and events to livestream video and Sales Navigator specific campaigns, though generally with influencers there are two primary methods: primary and secondary campaigns.

Using Sales Navigator to work in sync with your LinkedIn influencers marketing

If your influencer choice will be receiving a hands-on review, a great way to engage their audience is by the use of an in-depth article as a primary campaign. Not only are these articles excellent ways to provide a review for the immediate viewing audience, but they are far more evergreen than a simple post and can be used for brand reputation purposes within search.

LinkedIn influencers - Spotlight post

Amplify your efforts to force compulsion

Should the cost to create such a review prove to be prohibitive, another option would be for a thought leader within your own organization to create material designed to be shared, which leads to our second favorite use of LinkedIn amongst B2B marketers: like, comment, and share.

These activities are part of a secondary campaign process, amplifying previous efforts. As a concept, it is extremely easy for influencers to undertake, and as such usually comes with a considerably lower price tag. By liking the in-depth article posted by your organization, commenting with a relevant message that indicates the article was read, and sharing it with their core audience (with a personalized message), you can still leverage the authority possessed by the influencer.

As a final step, consider taking the audiences you just reached out to with an interest campaign by your LinkedIn influencers and start retargeting them with a deeper funnel advertising campaign. You have already established attention and possible interest, so it is time to move the reader closer to purchase.

Use the larger audience authoritative influencers for the creation of think pieces and in-depth reviews, followed up by peer influencers to your chosen buyer persona that can like, comment, and share. Cap it off with a strong retargeting campaign to force the compulsion to purchase and you are well on your way to leveraging the authority of LinkedIn influencers.

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