Why startups should use influencers

When restrictions on travel and working together took hold on the world, it forced events and campaigns (which are essential to marketing) to frantically be reshuffled and moved online where possible. Sales strategies and marketing plans had to be reorganised to adapt to the new normal of the marketing world.

Marketers are, however, used to being adaptable in an everchanging world, particularly in a startup with their unique challenges. While grand photoshoots in exotic locations were off the cards, the rise in digital consumption has brought about new opportunities. For many startups, this was exploring influencer marketing and making it work for their business.

The growth of influencers in marketing strategies

In 2020, our global online content consumption doubled to almost seven hours a day as we relocated to our homes. The rise was most noticeable on social media. Active social media users rose by 12.3%, with the average person spending nearly two and a half hours a day on social media.

It was clear to see that not only was the appetite for influencer content growing, but it was also helping consumers make purchasing decisions. Word of mouth is still the most successful form of marketing, and this was a way to get “the word” out to many at a time, in a more authentic way.

The appetite for influencer content was most prevalent among younger audiences. A third of 18-to 34-year-olds said they were watching more influencer content during the pandemic. And, TikTok has already seen a 45% increase in influencers in 2021 according to Influencer Marketing Hub.

If you are a brand or business without an influencer marketing strategy, this is the time to put one in place.

What is influencer marketing and why did it boom during the pandemic?

Influencer marketing is finding social media users who have an engaged and loyal audience to work with. They also need to align with your business so that you can attract a wider audience through their reach.

This makes influencer marketing the perfect type of content to create in lockdown or challenging circumstances. It’s easy to do as it is ‘homemade’, often created on phones, can be done anywhere, and requires little input from additional staff. Branded content can quickly and easily be created and shared at a relatively low cost.

It also inspires others to get involved and creates more of an experience between brand, influencer, and consumer than just a hard sell. But the growth of the social media influencer is about more than practicalities.

Social media influencers are real people doing real things and people like being nosey! Their content is relatable and this concept of stepping into someone else’s life is appealing to many users. It provided relief and distraction from the monotony of lockdown.

Why influencer marketing is starting to grow up

Physical connections haven’t been possible and that’s where influencer content has filled the gap. Brands have come to learn that social media audiences trust the opinions of their favourite social media influencers. Watching them review products became the next best thing to being in a room with a friend.

How B2B companies can leverage influencer content

Unsurprisingly, in the past B2B companies were slow to embrace social media influencers, as it didn’t seem applicable. But this is changing now, too.

According to a Nielsen study with TapInfluence, B2B influencer marketing leads to eleven times the ROI of traditional advertising. Here are our tips on how B2B businesses can work with influencers:

  • Don’t expect quick-fire results. Unlike influencer campaigns for B2C brands that tend to see immediate results in reach, B2B can often be more of a slow burner as the decisions are bigger and needs to involve more people in the process.
  • Do your research. Pick wisely! It’s not all about numbers. An influencer with a smaller following but in a specialised field could be more powerful that one with loads of followers that aren’t your target. Influencers are less likely to approach B2B brands, so you’ll need to seek them out.
  • Create content that counts. Find out how the influencer fits in with what content you want to provide. Think about live streams, Q&As, and ‘how to’ guides – the kind of content that your target audience will benefit from. Cisco did this well with its Cisco Champions campaign. It invited top IT experts to feature in the podcasts and videos and gave them new products to test out.
  • Set your goals and expectations. Think about what your goal is. Do you want to increase leads or reach new audiences? How many clicks, impressions or conversions do you expect to achieve, and how will these be measured? Be clear from the outset so you can gauge the ROI on your investment when it comes to reporting.

Influencer marketing strategy trends for 2021

Influencer marketing strategies are evolving as we emerge from the pandemic and will continue to grow. Here are some of this year’s strongest trends:

  • The rise of the ‘gigfluencer’. Lockdown left people with more time on their hands to explore new things. Gigfluencers are influencers who have a main job but create content with brands on the side. Expect to see more of these popping up on your feed.
  • More live streams. These boomed during the pandemic, with Facebook and Instagram lives reporting a 50% increase in views. This format allows a direct contact from user to influencer as they film live. It is set to grow even more in the coming year.
  • Micro and nano influencers and niche specialisms. Micro-influencers are those with fewer than 25,000 followers and nano influencers typically have a few thousand. These can be gold dust to B2B companies as they create highly targeted content on niche subjects that appeals to a specific audience.
  • Always-on activity. This means including the influencer in your long-term strategy, from conception and planning through to delivery. As IBM has proved, this can overlap neatly with employee advocacy. They trained and enabled staff to talk about their products in a meaningful way online. This approach means there are always knowledgeable and ‘on-brand' influencers discussing their products on social channels.

Find out more about how to get results from B2B influencer marketing by contacting us today!