Get this: a recent Tomoson study revealed that for every $1 a business spends on influencer marketing they earn $6.50. Even more impressive, the top 13% of businesses make more than $20 for every dollar they spend on influencer marketing. With such strong returns, it’s no wonder that more businesses are using market influencers as part of their overall marketing efforts – in fact, 39% of marketers will increase influencer marketing budgets in 2018.
While people tend to think of influencer marketing as the realm of fashion, travel, Kardashians, and all things B2C, this simply isn’t the case. Influencer marketing has an incredible influence on the B2B sales process. 87% of buyers give more credence to industry influencer content; however, only 15% of B2B companies are currently engaged in influencer marketing.
How do you break out of that bottom 85% and begin using influencer marketing today?
Start with your employees.
When Employee Advocacy Becomes Influencer Marketing
Here’s a little Influencer Marketing 101 for you. In general, there are four types of influencers:
- Celebrity: Huge following and celebrity appeal
- Market Influencers: Following of 100,000+
- Micro-Influencer: Following of 10,000 – 100,000
- Everyday Advocates: Your everyday brand fans and employees
Most marketers tend to think that they have to wrangle a huge celebrity or market influencer to start “influencer marketing”, but in reality, some of the best influencers you can leverage are already on your payroll.
From the C-suite to department heads, hourly workers to new hires, your employees have significant influence within their social network. Your employees have an average of 10x more connections than your B2B brand’s social profile. Content distributed by average employees are shared 24x more frequently than content shared by a brand. That same content also receives 8x more engagement than content shared by a brand.
Power in Numbers
According to the Wasp Barcode 2017 State of Small Business Report, 30% of executive leaders surveyed have asked their employees to use their personal social media accounts to share brand content and advocate on behalf of the brand, but let’s be honest – if you have to ask your employees to share content every time you want content to be shared, you’re going to start seeing some diminishing returns. Employees get busy, they forget, or they get distracted.
To counter this issue, we recommend that B2B brands manage their employee advocacy efforts through an advocacy marketing platform (like SocialToaster). Once an employee has joined your advocacy program on your platform, they’ll receive an email every time there is new content to share.
Even more important, your employees will be able to share the content directly from the email with a click of the mouse. No more wasting time opening a new tab, logging into Facebook, copying the link over, or having to think of a post to accompany the content link.
Everything is sent to the employee ready to ship, all they need to do is click “Share”.
A platform also makes it easy for you to manage and scale your program. The more employees you have join, the greater your program reach. One employee isn’t going to have the same reach as an established market influencer, but 300 sure do!
These efforts add up. B2B companies see a 5x increase in web traffic and 25% more leads from their employee advocacy efforts.
Transforming Employees Into Micro-Market Influencers
If you’ve dabbled in influencer marketing you already know one of the hardest parts of an effective influencer marketing campaign is finding potential influencers in the first place! For B2B companies it can almost feel like you’re tracking down a unicorn. However, with your employees regularly advocating on your behalf, instead of spending hours trying to find that perfect market influencer (and paying whatever their fee would be), consider building your own micro-influencers. That is, begin a process that positions your employees as thought leaders in your industry.
Don’t get us wrong, it won’t happen overnight, but over the course of an evergreen employee advocacy effort, it’s not uncommon to see B2B companies create multiple micro-influencers within their market. They might not make Ikea instructions for elevating your employees to thought leaders, but the overall process is straightforward:
Identify Potential Thought Leaders Within Your Ranks
In general, you want to focus on choosing a potential thought leader based on their:
- Skill level
- Communications ability
- Position of authority
- Passion for the opportunity
These thought leaders don’t have to be from the C-suite either. Look at all levels within your organization for rockstar employees to mold into a thought leader.
As a bonus, by showing your chosen employee(s) that you are invested in their personal growth and development, you create a more meaningful relationship with the employee. The better the relationship, the more likely they are to stay with the organization over time.
Develop Authored Content
Raise your hand if most of your content is published by either a generic company author or someone from your marketing department. Don’t worry, you aren’t alone.
Instead of publishing content from a generic author, let your new influencers “author” the various pieces of content you create. Even if the content is initially ghost-written, giving your employee the byline helps to establish them as the expert in their specific area. The content pieces they are authoring should align with their roles within your company.
For example, if you’re focused on turning your Vice President of Product Development into a micro-influencer, you’ll want to ensure any blog posts, Ebooks, or white papers that discuss your product are authored by your VP.
Have Your Employees Share This New Content
If only you had a network of employees ready to share new content at the drop of a hat. Oh, wait – if you paid attention to the first section of this blog post you do indeed have just that!
As new authored content gets created, leverage your employees to share that content with their networks. Be sure the shared piece includes the social profile of the author to help grow and develop your new micro-influencer’s social profile.
Easy Employee Advocacy with SocialToaster
Whether you’re an established B2B brand with thousands of employees, or a startup looking to make their mark, SocialToaster’s employee advocacy programs can help take your influencer marketing efforts to the next level.