If there’s one thing marketers can’t seem to get enough of, it’s buzzwords.

We love to “circle back on ideas so we can create synergy, drill down to identify real core competencies and leverage them at every touchpoint rather than just drinking the Kool-Aid like everyone else.”

And, to some extent, that’s ok.

Every industry has its own lexicon of terms and concepts that are unique to its practitioners, and as long as the people you’re trying to communicate with understand what you mean, using buzzwords doesn’t hurt anyone.

The potential problem we run into, though, is when we think we understand a particular buzzword or concept, but we’re really only getting half of the story. That’s what has occurred to a large extent with the term “influencer marketing” in recent years.

B2B vs. B2C influencer marketing

Influencer marketing — strategically working with thought leaders, celebrities, or others who already have large, established audiences in order to get your product or service in front of that audience — is nothing particularly new, but the term has become much more popular in the last few years, so it’s garnering a lot of attention.

In the B2C world, influencer marketing has been used in various forms for decades. Consider famous sports figures who lend their name and face to a certain brand of athletic shoes, or famous actors serving stirring smooth cocktails in commercials. These are simple and effective examples of influencer marketing because they offer the brand instant legitimacy and acceptance in the eyes of consumers who know and like the individual who’s promoting it.

But influencer marketing in the B2B space is a very different animal.

While there may be a handful of individuals in a few industries that could be considered “celebrities” of a sort, the large majority of potential influencers in B2B environments are highly niche-focused and essentially unknown outside their tiny spheres. They’re also not generally the kind of people who are seeking out attention or who are comfortable trading their influence and audiences for pay.

As a result, the entire strategy behind successful influencer marketing is different in a B2B context. And, in many ways, it’s both more challenging and more exciting.

It starts internally, then spreads organically

One of the main components of a successful B2B influencer marketing strategy involves establishing yourself or your organization as an influencer in your chosen niche before attempting to leverage (yes, I used it…) someone else’s influence to reach their audience. Failing to do so can doom your fledgling influencer efforts, wasting time, effort, and money in the process.

After you’ve put in the necessary effort and time establishing yourself and your company as a trusted source of insight in the industry, you’ll be able to more successfully approach other thought leaders to collaborate with them in ways they view as mutually beneficial.

Influencer and inbound go hand-in-hand

Since a successful B2B influencer marketing strategy depends on establishing yourself as an authority, it works perfectly as an adjunct to an ongoing inbound marketing program. By consistently creating and distributing helpful, optimized content that educates, enlightens, and entertains your target audience, you become a source they’re looking to for guidance and direction.

Once this occurs, other influencers in the same basic position with their own audiences will see you as a peer when you discuss content collaborations or other projects that can benefit both of your audiences. (That’s synergy — I used another one!)

Establishing an effective B2B influencer marketing program today

As an experienced B2B influencer marketing agency working exclusively in the B2B space, SPROUT Content has developed a powerful, 7-step process that allows our clients to incorporate the power of influencers into their inbound marketing strategy with amazing results:

  • Improved SEO
  • Wider social reach and growth
  • Increased Web traffic
  • A boost for their professional reputation
  • Protection from search algorithm changes
  • Enhanced authority
  • … and much more!

We’ve compiled this full 7-step process into our latest ebook, “How an Effective Influencer Marketing Strategy Supports Inbound (and Why it Matters)” so you can fully understand and benefit from the power of influencer marketing in your own organization.