It's 2024, and you'd have seen it on LinkedIn or all the places that matter. It's continuously on the rise. Influencer marketing is having a major moment right now, especially in B2B circles. And for good reason. Done right, influencer campaigns can rapidly expand brand visibility and credibility better than almost any other channel.

But I get it. This whole concept of “working with influencers” can seem a bit trendy or fuzzily defined if you don't have direct experience yet. Believe me, I've been there myself.

Early on, influencer marketing conjured up images of brands paying Kim Kardashian to hold their product in Instagram photos. The applicability to complex B2B sales felt hazy at best.

But after managing various influencer programs for SaaS brands and technology firms, I can tell you the reality is much more nuanced. B2B influencers are subject-matter experts focused on very specific business niches. They create educational content that sparks genuine professional dialogue. And they can have an immense impact on perception for organizations that align with the right influencers.

What is Influencer Marketing: Create a Winning Strategy | Sprout Social

This blog breaks down exactly how and why B2B influencers are so uniquely positioned to make content stand out and compel target buyer groups. I'm also including real-life examples across different verticals showcasing just how measurable and powerful ROI can be.

My goal is to help B2B marketers at any level of familiarity with this strategy understand how to get started down the path of long-term influencer marketing success...

What is a B2B Influencer?

Identify 3-5 top influencers in your niche by exploring relevant hashtags and tools like Buzzsumo
Review their content focus, engagement levels and audience demographic to analyze fit
Follow these influencers to start understanding their point-of-view better

A B2B influencer is an individual who:

  • Has established expertise and authoritative voice around specific industry topics
  • Creates educational content that attracts an engaged audience
  • Is recognized as a trusted source that followers rely on for insights

Unlike general social media personalities, B2B influencers deeply understand the pain points of their professional niche. They create content specifically to address industry challenges. As a result, they cultivate loyal audiences that eagerly consume and share their content.

Source: Traackr

The Growing Relevance of Influencers in B2B Marketing

Talk with sales team members about what content best connects with target buyer groups right now
Brainstorm specific ways influencers could create content to address current customer pain points
Build a basic plan for what your first influencer campaign might look like
80% of marketers find influencer marketing effective | Smart Insights

Influencer marketing was historically more associated with B2C brands. However, B2B brands are discovering immense value in influencer partnerships:

  • Increased brand awareness: Associating with topic experts expands reach to qualified, engaged audiences.
  • Thought leadership: Quality educational content builds perception as an industry leader.
  • Customer trust: Influencer advocacy adds credibility to brands in a competitive space.
  • Measurable ROI: From content amplification to lead gen, results can be tracked.
US Influencer Marketing Spend (2017–2027) [Oct 2023 Update]

As more brands experience success with influencers, organizations in every industry vertical realize they are missing key opportunities by overlooking this strategy.

Examples of Impactful B2B Influencer Marketing

Look at brands in adjacent industries using influencer marketing successfully and consider lessons learned or content formats that inspire you
Select the business objective you want to drive first with influencers and define what measurable influencer KPIs would signify success
Start building a list of potential influencers that map well to your goals and ideal partnership dynamics
B2B influencer marketing examples

B2B influencers should not be viewed as a nice to have but an integral component of modern marketing strategies. Here are some powerful examples of their impact:

Driving Brand Awareness Through Content Partnerships

A cybersecurity startup(a customer of DataDab) partnered with an IT security influencer to co-create a series of videos comparing vendor solutions. By collaborating with a recognized expert, they quickly informed thousands of technology decision makers about their key differentiators.

Over 6 months, branded video content generated:

  • 5x increase in site visits
  • 38 sales qualified leads

Amplifying Thought Leadership Through Live Events

A global consulting firm (not our client) hosted an invite-only dinner event featuring an influential futurist as the keynote speaker. He discussed technology trends reshaping their industry.

The influencers enormous social media presence and cadence of real-time posting during the event sparked viral discussion. This positioned the consultancy as visionary senior leaders attuned to forthcoming market shifts.

Over 30 days, the campaign drove:

  • 580+ social mentions
  • 290,000+ impressions
  • 3x increased web traffic

Turning Influencers Into Brand Advocates

A SaaS platform offered select influencers early access to test new product features before launch. In return, they asked for feedback and social posts sharing hands-on experience.

Several influencers were so impressed, they voluntarily created blog reviews, tweets, and LinkedIn posts praising the innovation and partnership with the brand. This authentic advocacy reinforced the solution as an essential forward-thinking tool for modern teams.

Opportunities in B2B Influencer Marketing

After-sales advocacy- Build loyalty and repeat business 
- Encourage product usage and satisfaction
Emerging social platforms- Explore TikTok, Reddit, WhatsApp etc. 
- Be open to testing new channels
Local language content- Resonates strongly in Middle East, Europe 
- Increase dwell time and purchase intent
Employee influencers- Access large networks and authenticity 
- Inspire other employees
10 Top Influencer Relationship Management Platforms & Tools

Takeaways for Leveraging B2B Influencers

Define exact criteria to assess influencer brand alignment and audience quality
Develop an outreach messaging template for initial influencer discussions
Build a tracking system to monitor performance of any early pilot campaigns
Top 14 Influencer Relationship Management Tools To Optimize Campaign

The question is no longer if B2B brands should develop influencer campaigns but how to cultivate impactful partnerships. Here are best practices to keep in mind:

Be selective

Not all influencers can move the needle for B2B brands. Analyze metrics like audience quality and engagement rates. Align with those creating content that sparks genuine discussion within target buyer groups.

Get creative with compensation

Money doesn't have to be the motivator. Offer VIP access to products/events or co-marketing opportunities instead. Identify incentives that mutually benefit the influencer and brand.

My Network: Influencer Relationship Management Platform - HypeAuditor

Make influencer relations scalable

Technology now exists to identify, manage and amplify networks of vetted influencers specifically aligned to what B2B buyers care about. Leverage tools like Traackr to maximize ROI as programs expand.

Proactively communicate expectations

Provide influencers clear guidance for content topics, hashtags to use, optimal media formats, etc. Set defined KPIs upfront, so both parties can continually optimize towards specific metric goals.

Maintain genuine relationships

Check in regularly, highlight content they've created and find new ways to collaborate. Top influencers have their pick of brand partnerships, so consistency and care is key.

Ready to Drive Results With B2B Influencer Marketing?

As this strategy continues maturing, leading B2B brands are already noticing a considerable impact compared to traditional tactics. They recognize that adopting new marketing techniques is imperative for gaining an edge over competitors. Does your brand have the expertise to implement a winning influencer program? Our agency has hands-on experience maximizing ROI across various B2B verticals. Let's connect to explore possibilities tailored to your unique goals.