Influencer marketing. A name that conjures up scantily clad models; makeup; and Youtube Comedians. But that name is only a small subsection of a burgeoning industry and marketing tactic; one that has yet to become the predominant source of leads for SaaS companies and service companies alike.As the Managing Director of a marketing agency whose clientele lies predominantly in B2B markets, I can tell you with absolute certainty that every niche out there has influencers; from securtech, to proptech, even “old-school” industries like manufacturing.Marketers use the term influencer nowadays to broadly apply to any account or channel that produces content on social media – not just individuals with attractive features but other companies, blog, and press outlets. An influencer is any social account that holds influence over a select group of people. (If you’re interested in how influencers do business, check out one of my old podcast episodes)

The Business-fication of Traditional Social Media

If you’re like me, you’ve been targeted by an ever-increasing amount of business-specific ads on Facebook and Instagram; loans, software companies, recruiting sites…the list goes on and on. This stuff is blended in seamlessly alongside models and other typical social media content.

I can’t tell you how many times our agency leads tell us they only want to advertise on LinkedIn, and can’t fathom that executives or corporate decision-makers would click on an ad on Facebook. Pop psychology leads us to believe when people are not in business mode, they won’t check Facebook – but anyone who has monitored their employee’s computers knows checking Facebook is something people do during the workday. In fact, quite the opposite is true:

Around seven-in-ten U.S. adults (69%) use Facebook, according to a survey conducted in early 2019. …Among U.S. adults who use Facebook, around three-quarters (74%) visit the site at least once a day. (PewResearch)

So that myth is quickly dispelled. This is not to mention that networks like Facebook have an audience network – meaning they can place your ads in business or industry-relevant publications.

Back To The Influencer Marketing

So, you might be thinking at this point – Chris, you’re showing me advertisements – those things are not the same as working with an influencer. Ads allow you to control your demographics, timing, creative…

Guess what – when working with influencers, you can control ALL of the same variables. Heck, Instagram is even requiring influencers to disclose partner posts; and allow you, the business, to advertise on behalf of your influencers.

To sum things, the core benefits of using influencers vs ads on social media for B2B are as follows:

  • The economics are better. (usually)
  • You piggyback on the trust of an influencer who already has rapport with your target audience
  • You can build on your relationship with the influencer into more deep partnerships (co-branded content, etc) over time.

Logistics and Caveats of influencer marketing

Ok. Ads are a little more secure, to begin with, than influencers. You may need to do an advanced search of tags in your industry to discover targets; you will certainly need to verify authentic engagement in the accounts you’re targeting (we use hypeauditor), and verify those demographics.

All in all, influencer marketing in B2B is a real avenue; and you will see more pop up in individual niches, especially in the tech world, in the next few years. Stay tuned for:

  • A guide to top influencers in edtech, SaaS, HRtech and FinTech
  • How to vet influencers on Twitter for SaaS

in my upcoming blogs!

Chris Nicholas is a serial entrepreneur and marketer. He has personally managed dozens of influencers; spoken extensively on the topic. (including most recently in VICE’s web series on Instagram)

Check him out as the occasional cohost of the No CMO Podcast, available on all platforms, or book a training session to speak with him directly.