Influencer marketing has come a long way, but the journey was not free from pitfalls. The disastrous Fyre Festival — and its accompanying documentaries released on Hulu and Netflix — tarnished many people’s perceptions of influencers and put influencers’ work in the international spotlight.
Econsultancy’s What Consumers Think About Influencer Marketing report revealed that consumers cited the authenticity of influencer content as their top concern. At the same time, the respondents felt that influencer disclosure hashtags such as #ad did not make influencer content less credible.
What’s more, the Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report by Influencer Marketing Hub indicated influencer marketing is in a rapid growth period, and doing it right can give brands up to $18 in earned media value for every dollar spent. Earned media is publicity a brand receives through means other than paid advertising.
These findings highlight that although some marketers have cautious perceptions of influencers and their associated authenticity, they should still strongly consider increasing their influencer marketing investments. The influencer marketing companies that help them do that effectively must understand the differences between business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing.
Here are seven differences to keep in mind:
1. B2B influencer marketing doesn’t necessarily show quick results
The clients using influencer marketing may find that it takes longer than expected to get results in the B2B sector, especially if they started with B2C influencer marketing. B2B marketing has a longer timeframe for marketing campaign payoffs because there are typically multiple people involved in the decision-making process.
A consumer might see an influencer promoting a particular kind of nutritional supplement and buy it within a couple of days. The B2B world, however, operates in ways where numerous people give their thoughts before purchases happen. That difference means the B2B influencer content must go through several channels before conversions happen. Marketers must be aware of this reality, especially when soothing clients who want faster outcomes.
2. Measuring the impact is more straightforward for B2C influencer marketing
B2C influencer marketing is comparatively easier to measure – provided that people measure the right metrics – as the complexity of the purchase process can be more straightforward. Some of the metrics they can track include the number of impressions for an influencer’s social media post or the number of engagements the post receives from the audience. It’s best for influencer marketers to consider which metrics to track before launching a campaign, rather than viewing metrics as an afterthought.
3. Potential channels for B2B influencer marketing are more diverse
As the previous point suggests, influencer marketing to consumers primarily occurs on social media, making tracking metrics simpler but B2B influencer marketing tends to go beyond social media.
Some B2B influencers gain traction by sharing their expertise through “knowledge hubs” or live webchat events. Take, for example, American Express, which partnered with bloggers for the ‘Love My Store’ campaign that created YouTube videos to encourage small business owners to start accepting credit cards. It resulted in the distribution of 400,000 American Express decals for store windows.
Other people of influence in the B2B sector are excellently suited to publishing content on well-respected websites or speaking at special events. Patricia O’Connell is a best-selling author who helps businesses make better connections with their customers. She is often a speaker at conferences and has co-written relevant content on Inc.com.
These examples show that influencer marketers need to spend time figuring out the most suitable channels and platforms to use while taking both the audience’s needs and the influencer’s expertise into account.
4. B2C influencer marketing came first
B2C influencer marketing gained prominence first and paved the way for companies to promote events, products or even lifestyles to their audiences. However, B2B influencers are similarly great at drawing attention to events, despite B2B influencer marketing being relatively new.
As an example of influencer marketing for events, the Content Marketing Institute recruited 36 of its speakers for an upcoming event and had them contribute their thoughts to a 48-page e-book. The conference’s theme was ‘Game On,’ and the e-book’s design appropriately had a retro video game theme. Influencer marketers should realise that B2B influencer marketing doesn’t always heave to be boring.
5. Industry prominence matters for B2B influencer marketing
B2B influencer marketing often works best when an influencer becomes known for their work or prominence in an industry. Seth Godin and Neil Patel are a couple of the influencers leading the way in the B2B influencer marketing space, and they reached that achievement by standing out in their respective industries first. In contrast, some B2C influencers achieve name recognition mostly due to being ‘influencers’.
6. B2C influencers capitalise on lifestyles and emotions
B2C influencer marketing often taps into emotions, but B2B influencer marketing emphasises giving clients a better return on investment. Glossier is one consumer brand that highlights ideals that make sense to its target audience of shoppers and make-up lovers. It doesn’t use celebrity B2C influencers but instead focuses on real people that make an impact through word of mouth.
It’s a direct-to-consumer brand that controls the entire customer experience by marketing through its own channels. The result is a hyper customer-centric business.
7. Long-term relationship building is at the forefront of excellent B2B influencer marketing
B2B influencer marketing focuses on long-term relationship building. Conversely, those involved with B2C influencer marketing often encourage people to take desirable actions despite not having long-term relationships with them, although we are seeing more and more B2C influencers building long-term relationships with their audiences.
Finding the right influencers is key to brand success. Being mindful of these differences will help you when working with clients interested in influencer marketing. It is vital to take the time required to find influencers that match the product or brand as doing so helps the audience feel that the influencer is authentic and trustworthy.