Influencer marketing is in a state of flux. In the past 10 days alone, I’ve seen suggestions that paid influencers are out, and that “influencer marketing — in the traditional sense — is in the midst of an irreversible fail from grace.”
Neither of these arguments is off the mark, per se, but they both frame the concept in outdated B2C-centric terms (the authors more or less acknowledge this with their qualifiers). No one can deny that the impact of hired celebrity influencers, transparently shilling products or services, is waning. It’s not an approach that builds trust or credibility.
However, strategic B2B influencer marketing is still very much on the rise, and nowhere near its peak yet. When done right, this practice isn’t about celebrity status, nor solely about paying for influence (although that can be part of the equation). It’s about building mutually beneficial relationships with established thought leaders in your space, founded on the focus of delivering value to your audience first and foremost.
In this growing field, Janine Wegner and her team at Dell Technologies* are blazing trails. Few other B2B organizations have developed a level of influencer sophistication that matches Dell, and we’ve been fortunate to partner with them on several projects.
[bctt tweet=”Influencer marketing comes back those voices telling the story, helping our customers understand what the future looks like, and how they can get there. @JanineWegner #InfluencerMarketing #BreakFreeB2B” username=”toprank”]
TopRank Marketing President Susan Misukanis recently sat down with Janine, who is in charge of global thought leadership at Dell, for a lengthy interview on the path forward for influencer marketing in the B2B space, as propelled by her area of specialization.
Join us for a fun conversation that touches on the serious side of B2B influencer marketing while also incorporating lighter themes of “dating and fun games.”
Break Free B2B Marketing Interview with Janine Wegner
If you’re interested in checking out a particular portion of the discussion, you can find a quick general outline below, as well as a few excerpts that stood out to us.
- 0:30 — Definition of thought leadership
- 2:15 — Activating internal subject matter experts
- 4:00 — Identifying B2B influencers
- 6:45 — Democratization of influence
- 8:30 — Building relationships with macro vs. nano influencers
- 10:30 — Influencers at different stages of the funnel
- 11:45 — Challenges of getting started with influencer programs
- 16:30 — The future of thought leadership and influencer marketing
- 18:30 — How can marketers break free?
Susan: What do you think are the big gains or advancements in thought leadership and influencer marketing?
Janine: What I’m really excited about and what I’ve been seeing over the past years is that there’s this kind of democratization of influence, right? Social media provided us the tools to share our opinions, but now we advance to a stage where people are very passionate and have an incredible reach to — maybe a small subset of community — but their authenticity and their integrity are so valued that people listen to them. And I find this fascinating for society overall, let alone for us from a marketing perspective. So it’s all coming back to: what do you want to achieve as a marketer and what type of influencer is the right one?
[bctt tweet=”There’s been a democratization of influence… Now we’re at a stage where passionate people’s authenticity and integrity are so valued that people listen to them. @JanineWegner #InfluencerMarketing #BreakFreeB2B” username=”toprank”]
Susan: How are the activations and partnerships different at the nano vs. macro influencer levels?
Janine: Again, it goes back to your business objectives and what you want to achieve. What we’re trying to do is map out throughout our campaign, what’s the customer journey? And what are the content pieces we want to develop? And what are the voices we want to have in each of them, and how to then activate and amplify those? So it might be that you take into account people that don’t have as much reach, but that have incredible subject matter expertise and credibility on a certain topic, that you engage in something like an eBook, or a report, or getting some quotes from them very early on a key pillar asset. But then you want people to talk about it and actually know that this exists, right? So you might want to leverage social amplifiers that are talking about this topic and are using this eBook as a resource that they recommend to their community, and really getting that reach and spreading it far and wide. And then there might be tactics when you then invite them to a webinar, or maybe a face-to-face event, to participate as part of a panel, and so forth. So there are all of those different tactics. And we usually are, what I would recommend is like, look at your business objectives.
Susan: For someone thinking about digging deeper into influencer marketing, what might a pilot program look like for example?
Janine: So right now, for instance, although we are already a little bit advanced, we’re still testing and piloting, because we want to be smarter. We want to get better, we want to spend our resources a little bit more wisely. Right? So one area that we’re testing is really leveraging the power of those social amplifiers. When we launch a certain research study, product news, or so forth, how can we then brief those influencers, give them everything that they need, you know, for the day X, the day that it launches? And then ask them to amplify and what does this look like what does a good kind of social media amplification kit and like cadence look like for these influencers? Because we need to think about the fact that most of them also serve other companies, so you don’t want to overdo it, but you also want a certain share of words.
Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Break Free B2B interviews. Here are a few interviews to whet your appetite:
- Break Free B2B Series: Hal Werner on the Intersection of Marketing Creativity and Analytics
- Break Free B2B Series: Clare Carr on Using Data to Drive Content Marketing Success
- Break Free B2B Series: Brody Dorland on Creating Long-Lasting Content Marketing Strategy
- Break Free B2B Series: Amisha Gandhi on Global B2B Influencer Marketing
- Break Free B2B Series: Amanda Todorovich on Creating Content that Pays Off