Goldman Sachs, the bluest of blue chips, is investing in the influencer market.
The news that the investment bank has hired a vice president to focus on social media and cultivating influencer relationships made it official – this will be the year of business to business influence online.
Last year influencer marketing-related services and companies grew by 26%. The industry could reach $16.4b in 2022. Most of this strong growth comes from brands experimenting with new ways to reach customers during the pandemic. Even the stogiest of companies is realizing that they need to adopt new strategies to target evolving audiences.
Influencer marketing offers proven returns. A recent survey showed 89% of marketers say ROI from influencer marketing is comparable to or better than other marketing channels.
Businesses can leverage an influencer’s audience/following to get better engagement. Sixty-three percent of marketers said marketing produces better results with an attached B2B influencer marketing program. Influencers build a personal connection to their followers through direct interactions – this increases the audience’s loyalty as they feel a part of the influencer’s life.
This matters because whether or not a business is selling to another business, a person is ultimately responsible for a sales decision. Connection always matters.
Nine in ten B2B marketers expect to spend more on influencer marketing this year. We see this here at Cognito. We have seen influencer marketing grow significantly with our B2B clients over the past two years. The companies that work with influencers have seen the value and return on the strategy.
So how do B2B companies find the right influencers for their brand to produce results? Here is a checklist for ensuring you are not working with a fake dud:
Many tools measure the authority of an influencer using their proprietary equation. You should choose a tool you trust and are comfortable using. We suggest checking out Moz as a start for an authority score.
Followers are the least valuable metric to check off this list. Why? Bought followers do not engage and certainly won’t produce an ROI.
Look at the number of followers and take a peek at their followers. If you are in the FinTech space, you want the followers to reflect FinTech brands, publications, and influencers that would potentially be interested in your brand.
You can use a tool to find this, or you can manually analyze the influencer’s number of followers against the number of likes, shares, retweets, video views the influencer is receiving on any given post. You can safely assume that the numbers you are seeing are higher than what your branded content would get on their channels. Are you comfortable with that?
Does the influencer have paid partnerships with other brands? Do those brands conflict with yours? It is usual for a strong influencer to have other affiliations because being an influencer is their job. You do want to make sure that they do not have every post as a paid partnership, which would indicate they are not genuine. You also want to ensure that none of their partnerships conflict with your company.
Scanning the potential influencer’s profiles from beginning to end is crucial. Not only is it essential to identify other brand partnerships, but it is also vital to search for any political and/or religious content that does not align with your brand’s values.
Keep in mind that your intelligence plays a part in vetting influencers. Maybe an influencer will remove a post that goes against your brand. Perhaps a lower authority score is acceptable if the engagement rate is high and the influencer has the followers you want. At the end of the day, you need to choose an influencer that represents your brand and will meet the goals that you have set out for them.
Influencer marketing is an innovative and effective way for businesses and brands to connect to their desired audiences. Leveraging the trust built by influencers, companies can now expand the reach of their products/services with more impact.
Marji Sherman is a vice president in Cognito’s New York office