Influencer marketing is taking LinkedIn by storm.
According to LinkedIn’s Marketing Solutions blog, out of the 660+ million users on the platform, 61 million are senior level influencers, 40 million are decision-makers, and almost 7 million are C-level executives.
If you want your business to succeed and develop a LinkedIn following, team up with B2B influencers who provide helpful cues to network your way to the top.
A 2017 global study by LinkedIn covering over 6,000 B2B buyers and marketers found that expert opinions were the second most influential factor before vendor engagement. Unfortunately, a mere 15 percent of B2B firms implemented influencer-marketing campaigns.
So, repurpose your marketing efforts to find and collaborate with the right experts on LinkedIn and surpass your competition.
Know Why LinkedIn Influencers are a Big Deal Right Now
Many influencer marketers hold the opinion that this technique is useful only for B2C marketing. And, that was the case until a year or so ago.
However, towards the end of 2019 that is changing and the effectiveness and popularity of this trend is increasing among B2B companies as well.
In fact, businesses generate $6.50 on average for each dollar invested in B2B influencer marketing which has not happened before.
And, even though the business landscape is more competitive than ever LinkedIn has managed to foster a savvy culture where individuals are willing to share insights and participate in each other’s growth very often sharing trade and industry secrets.
LinkedIn influencers hold real credibility when it comes to providing professional advice.
Here’s a few steps on how to get started.
- Gain the attention of LinkedIn influencers who are authentic users – mainly industry leaders – who submit content approved by LinkedIn’s editors. Spot them easily by the tiny LinkedIn icons that appear against their names when they post on the network. See an example below:
- Get the influencer to share your content and see a sizeable jump in your reach due to their massive follower count and authority.
- Partner with online influencers to achieve your conversion targets among the target audience. After all, 60 percent of B2B buyers willingly talk to a salesperson only after conducting their own research. Knowing your brand is endorsed by an industry authority figure does wonders to sway their opinion in your favor. So, devote time and attention to influencer marketing.
Why Micro-Influencers Matter
Let’s face the facts – not every small and mid-sized B2B can foot the million-dollar bill required to partner with the likes of Oprah Winfrey or The Rock on social media!
Thankfully, deep pockets are not a requirement for developing and executing a solid B2B influencer marketing strategy for your business.
Go for micro-influencers instead.
These are industry experts who stick to one niche area and have a smaller follower count, usually between 1,000 and 100,000. But this is more than enough to boost your B2B business.
Consider the example of Liz Ryan, a micro-influencer for the HR sector and the CEO of Human Workplace. She might not have as many followers and connections as Satya Nadella, but her posts get great engagement.
If the prospect of lesser followers bothers you, think about it – micro-influencers normally get stronger engagement. Why? Because they nurture audience relationships instead of just sharing knowledge via one-way communication. So, get the benefit of quality over quantity with micro-influencers.
How Do You Identify Influencers on LinkedIn?
Find LinkedIn influencers for your B2B business using one of two methods:
· Use the LinkedIn tool
· Search influencers manually
Use the LinkedIn Tool
Did you know LinkedIn provides an invite-only tool to the world’s greatest ‘thinkers, leaders, and innovators’?
Targeting individuals more than companies, this tool provides direct access to every single influencer on the platform. Do not send an invite; it will go unaccepted. However, keep your fingers crossed since LinkedIn analyses the existing list of influencers regularly to match them to users. Who knows, you might be one of the lucky ones!
Search Influencers Manually
Want to play it safe? Go for LinkedIn’s advanced search system. Enter the keyword or tag of your choice. Narrow down your research by applying filters on Current Companies, Connections, Locations, etc.
Enjoy near instantaneous access to hundreds or even thousands of influencers based on your industry and location.
Consider Alternative Options
Avoid sifting through pages of influencer options on LinkedIn by zeroing in on the best influencers for your products or services. Focus on the things that matter to connect with professionals who share the same interests as your brand or company.
Check Out Member Biographies
- Type key phrases or select filters that your target influencers may have in their main LinkedIn biographies in the search bar. The platform immediately offers results based on their current location, connections, and specialties.
- Narrow your influencer search, but do not limit it to such an extent that no results are shown.
- Go through random user biographies to form an idea about the kind of keywords and search terms influencers may have in their profiles.
Use LinkedIn’s hashtag feature to discover and follow hashtags relevant to your B2B business. Get regular notifications on those hashtags and find community influencers already discussing things relevant to your brand.
Take a Look at ‘People Also Viewed’
- Add widgets like Upfluence to your LinkedIn sidebar when searching for influencers.
- Find others on the platform who also accessed a certain professional’s posts or profile.
Perhaps not the most efficient method to find B2B business influencers on LinkedIn, but it provides an idea about who is browsing through other profiles and helps you make connections with influencers you are interested in.
Browse ‘My Network’
Make the most of LinkedIn’s My Network tab located at the top of the user interface. Primarily used by existing company and business profiles, this feature helps you find influencers in the community who are already interested in your brand.
- Use the Group feature on LinkedIn to connect with influencers who are the right fit for your B2B business.
- Request to join and, after you’re in, receive notifications when people post or talk about topics relevant to your services or products.
- Interact with influencers directly in Groups and see your audience from up-close so you can verify it yourself.
Note the most active members of the community and begin headhunting. Please note that this process, while slow, gets the job done.
Approach the Right LinkedIn Influencer for Your Business
As the potential number of people you can work with increases, keep track of certain things when conducting your research. Specifically, look for major information such as:
• Number of followers
• Active social networks and links
• Contact details
Also, note their engagement patterns and cadence. Look for trends in their content, including the frequency of their posts, the average engagement, tone/voice, content format, etc.
Build a list of possible contenders and then arrange them based on reach. Take your target audience into account as well as your brand alignment. Also, keep an open mind when working with different influencers – your business could tap into a customer segment you didn’t know you appealed to.
Figure Out the Best Way to Pitch to a B2B LinkedIn Influencer
Ask any PR professional and they will tell you that crafting a good pitch involves a lot of preparation and research, not to mention oodles of creativity. Reaching out to LinkedIn influencers for marketing opportunities works pretty much the same way.
First, establish your budget. Then get in touch with an agency to delegate outreach on your business’s behalf. They usually have the connections necessary to streamline the entire process.
To own outreach and develop a relationship with influencers on your own, send an email to your preferred influencer, expressing interest in a collaboration. Can’t find the influencer’s email address? Not to worry! Simply contact them on LinkedIn by sending a message.
Craft the Ideal Pitch
Make sure you pitch includes:
· Goals of your campaign
· Examples of past campaigns done by the influencer that you admire
· How your target audiences overlap
· Possible dates for the campaign
· Type of content the influencer is expected to provide
· Compensation the influencer expects from your business
Formalize the Agreement
If the influencer reverts to your pitch, set up an interview to finalize the details of your collaboration and determine whether you are compatible with one another. Once you are both on the same page, move the partnership forward by including the above in a formal agreement. Also, discuss the following:
· Any important approval processes
· Necessary exclusivity requirements
· Your brand’s content usage rights
LinkedIn influencers offer more value for money. So, despite their low follower count, get the benefit of greater engagement. Plus, if you collaborate with micro-influencers, they do not usually charge as much as the top influencers in the industry.
Do your best to nurture your relationship with influencers. Take advantage of the collaboration to expand your impact in the B2B industry as their influence also increases over time.
Grow Your Relationship
Similar to your relationships with various co-marketing partners, maintain trust and consider the results while working with LinkedIn influencers. After you get the ball rolling on your B2B campaign, avoid micromanaging your influencers.
These people are “influencers” for a reason – they know what works best when it comes to attracting your target audience. So, do not become too prescriptive with the instructions of the B2B campaign; otherwise, the whole thing may end up sounding too forced.
Once the campaign is over, analyze the data. Compare your B2B campaign against other campaigns by brands of your industry and size. If the collaboration turned out to be a successful one and you enjoyed working with the individual, bring up the possibility of a future collaboration.
In the meantime, do your part to support them by commenting and engaging with their posts. Ask pertinent questions to keep the online conversations going and share their posts on your LinkedIn feed. Ensure they take notice and appreciate how your brand goes the extra mile.
What Makes LinkedIn B2B Influencers Unique?
B2B influencers now play a crucial role in online marketing and with good reason. Take advantage of real testimonials, authentic content, and additional visibility. Also, depending on the influencer, gain unique and high-quality content.
Think about it this way – recommendations by B2B influencers on LinkedIn for your service or product not only raise its value to customers, but also increase sales. On the other hand, B2C influencers from the fashion, travel or food industries rarely breach these regions for every lead.
The truth is, B2B influencers on LinkedIn are a lot harder to win over for a collaboration since, unlike traditional B2C influencers, as they prioritize their reputation on the business network and cannot easily be tempted with large sums of money!
In fact, more so than the payment, what matters for B2B influencer marketing is the passion for the brand, its services or products.
Know the Top LinkedIn Influencers
Check out some of the top influencers on LinkedIn right now:
UK’s Matt Navarra was the Director of Social Media at TNW. A well-informed and networked individual regarding updates on social media networks, he covers different topics from design to tech to employer branding to entrepreneurship.
An Internet technology and ad tech leader, Oleg Vishnepolsky has considerable experience as a CIO and CTO in environments of extreme technical complexity and availability transaction environments. He is a whiz at managing distributed or international teams, and specializes in management, ad tech, and technology M&As.
Clara Shih can help brands connect with their customers via digital technology. The CEO and founder of Hearsay, she has considerable knowledge about the industry.
The CEO of Hootsuite, Ryan Holmes is a pro at social media influencing and marketing. His profile is a goldmine for young entrepreneurs and marketers. He gives great advice on building teams that work together and do creative work.
Use LinkedIn influencers, both regular and micro, to grow your B2B business’s reach considerably. Associate your brand with the niche leaders in your industry to enjoy credibility with your target audience quickly. Implement a solid B2B influencer marketing strategy to improve your brand awareness and increase your lead generation efforts, ultimately growing your business’s bottom line.
Remember, influencers on LinkedIn stand out thanks to their high trustworthiness and credibility. Take advantage of the partnership to boost your sales. Choose your experts carefully and make the most of the B2B LinkedIn influencer boom.