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How to plan your B2B influencer marketing programme

Even the most niche of B2B topics has its own digital superstars, says Luke Brynley-Jones. He advises how to engage with them and develop a positive relationship

For FMCG and consumer brands, social media endorsements offer a whole new world of opportunity. A YouTube star with 7 million fans can expect to be paid $300,000 per brand endorsement, while popular Instagrammers rake in $150,000 for a single mention.

While that level of fee may not surprise you, you might be more surprised to learn that every industry – even the geekiest B2B niche – has digital superstars.

Take Bill Marler, for example. Bill runs one of the world’s most popular blogs on food safety. He has written and contributed to scores of industry papers and spends his days advising brands, industry bodies and governments about the challenges of food safety and legislation. You’ve almost certainly never heard of him but he’s a recognised authority in his field. He also has more than 13,000 loyal Twitter followers. If you sell food safety products, you may want to cultivate a friendship with Bill. Of course, the easiest way to reach him is online.

On the other hand, if you want to promote your latest CRM innovation, Paul Greenberg may be the man you need. Author, consultant and a regular columnist for ZDnet, Paul has been called the ‘Godfather of CRM’. He too is a big name in a narrow sector, with 22,000 Twitter followers and a keen blog readership.

What connects the likes of Bill Marler and Paul Greenberg – apart from the influence they wield within their niche – is, for want of a better word, their ‘reachability’.

For better or worse, long lunches with journalists – a pre-Internet PR requirement – have given way to a less structured, longer-term process of influencer engagement. By demonstrating an understanding of the topics that your industry influencers are discussing and commenting on or sharing their posts, you can quickly form a positive relationship with them.

Of course, some will require a commercial agreement (and payment) before they publicly endorse your company. Others, though, will be quite happy to share your content if it’s genuinely interesting and non-partisan. They might also be open to writing a blog post, participating in an event or co-authoring a report; it depends how much value they see in aligning themselves with you.

In fact, most B2B influencers get ‘paid’. Not in cash, but through reach, status, speaking or consulting opportunities. The question is: what do you have to offer them?

Once you’ve figured that out, you’re actually halfway towards creating a viable influencer marketing programme.

Luke Brynley-Jones will be speaking on ‘The Science of Influencer Marketing’ at B2B Marketing InTech 2017 in London on 23 February.

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