At our recent B2B Social Trailblazers Summit in partnership with Immediate Future, we hosted an Influencer Knowledge Share session, in which some of the key influencers in attendance shared their points of view on questions such as:
- What challenges is the industry facing?
- What tactics and channels are B2B Influencers using?
- What trends can Influencers see happening in the future?
It was great to have such high-profile B2B Influencers all together in one room. It was a lively discussion which delivered some really interesting insights. Here is a roundup of what was said at this session.
Our recent State of B2B Social Media Marketing Industry Report identified top challenges B2B Marketers face in relation to Influencer Marketing.
Legality & Regulations around Influencer Marketing is one of the main challenges right now for Fintech influencer Chris Gledhill. The Advertising Standards Authority and The Federal Trade Commission are clear on the disclosure of sponsored content. They are clamping down on B2B brands who sponsor content either directly or indirectly and do not disclose their partnership programs. You have to include the right hashtags and a banner at the top stating that the content is sponsored. However, in his experience some brands are not keen to comply to this and put pressure on him not to include those hashtags. He finds those types of discussions quite troublesome. The challenge for influencers is to satisfy the requests from brands whilst also complying with the regulators.
Fintech Influencer & content creator Efi Pylarinou said a challenge she faces is brands asking her for a “free trial”. They want to see the results first and then potentially go into a paid partnership. This is an approach that shows the misunderstanding between the value add of a thought leader and the way pure media functions (i.e. clicks and ads). Efi shares with prospects sample client content and pro bono content she chooses to create and share, and the engagement metrics so the expectations of prospects are set in advance.
Ronald van Loon agreed and added the problem is if you do something for free then it has less value for the brands, and the influencers have to wait a long time for feedback. However, if a brand pays for influencer-generated content, then there has to be a more formal discussion on how it performed, what the return on that investment was, and if they want the relationship to continue in the future.
Another challenge that was mentioned is that a lot of clients approaching influencers don’t really understand how Influencer Marketing works, and they often have unrealistic expectations. There is still a need for more education on how to run campaigns, and what results to expect.
Best Performing Content Assets
A recent survey identified that content from events, research reports and eBooks/white papers produced the best results over the past 12 months.
Source: CMI, MarketingProfs & ON24
Neal Schaffer agreed that content created around a live event is very attractive and said that one event can yield enough content for a year! The evergreen nature of content is the most important thing, and video is the easiest to repurpose. When combined with in-person events, the content brings it all together and makes it more human.
Mervyn Dinnen agreed and said that live events drive lots of engagement, particularly over the last year because there have been no in-person events for the last 2 years. He’s seen a huge buzz at events this year just because people haven’t seen each other for nearly 3 years face to face, whether that will continue or not he’s not sure.
People agreed with live streaming content being near the bottom in terms of engagement, probably due to the overexposure of live streaming events in recent times.
Our recent research found a shift in focus of priority regarding channels that B2B influencers are actively creating content on, with typically “consumer” channels such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok performing better than expected.
Unsurprisingly, all the influencers from the session said they use both Twitter & LinkedIn. Bernard Marr also agrees with all platforms mentioned, except Facebook as it has no impact on the work that he does. Mervyn Dinnen doesn’t post content on Facebook for brands, but acknowledges that there are Facebook Groups that share lots of industry content.
When asked if Facebook is more popular in the US compared to Europe, Neal Schaffer stated that while not everyone is on LinkedIn, everyone is on Facebook. If a brand is posting content to LinkedIn why wouldn’t they also post it to Facebook? Neal added that the organic posts to Facebook would also help drive engagement on any paid posts the brand are publishing there, which in turn helps to build up fans the brand could then retarget.
Dark Social is on the Rise
More and more communities are beginning to explore dark social as a way to communicate with each other and encourage others to share their content. Many of Onalytica’s clients are now exploring the concept of utilizing channels like Slack to better engage experts.
Chris Gledhill said these channels are a big deal in FinTech and Financial Services. There are big Discord, WhatsApp and Slack groups which are perceived to be better because rather than having a billion people on there you typically have about 200 experts with a shared interest. Chris said he would much rather have a chat there than on Twitter and LinkedIn with all the noise that goes on. He recognized that it’s difficult for brands to break into those communities because it tends to be individuals in there, but brands could create their own breakout communities.
Neal Schaffer added that he’s been invited by brands to join Slack and Discord groups, but he doesn’t really enjoy using any of them, because it’s unclear what is in it for him. With Onalytica posting the presentations from our B2B Social Trailblazers conference exclusively to Guild and live streaming on Guild, he said suddenly there’s something in it for him and he wants to be there. Otherwise there’s no need for him to go on Slack or Discord, he’s happy just get the emails and that’s enough. Brands need to offer something more because people’s time is limited.
There was also some discussion about calling these channels dark social, Chris Gledhill suggested the term Deep Social is better, because dark social has negative connections similar to the dark web.
We asked the influencers what is one prediction they have for B2B Influencer Marketing in 2023? Bernard Marr said B2B Influencer Marketing is going to grow in 2023, with more brands including it in their overall marketing strategy. Brands will also become less guarded about what is said because they are waking up to the fact that you can’t tell people what to say, influencers are being given more control over the content now. So more freedom and a growing market in general is the trend Bernard Marr could see happening, which is very exciting.
Chris Gledhill said one trend he is seeing is a general dumbing down of content, due to shorter attention spans on social media. We’re seeing more short-form videos now driving the same if not more engagement. Research reports, surveys and whitepapers are a lot of effort for potentially not as much return on investment. Whereas a 30-second video is a lot less effort for a better ROI. This is not ideal because we as influencers repurpose the source material, but if the source material isn’t that great then it’s not good for the ecosystem.
Another trend Chris could see happening is influencers’ prices going up. He adjusts his rate card every year in line with inflation and the cost of living, so to be competitive he can see influencers’ prices increasing in 2023. Mervyn Dinnen agreed that prices will go up in the future, and added that there always has to be a good value-to-knowledge ratio.
Efi Pylarinou made the point that what we are seeing now is that the market is not saturated, the number of brands doing B2B Influencer Marketing is relatively small so there is a lot of room to grow.
Ronald van Loon put the question back to Onalytica asking us what our predictions were for Influencer Marketing in 2023. Do we see it growing? In answer we said yes, we think it is growing and that the larger brands who have been doing it for years will continue to work with influencers on their content. We’ve seen more medium-sized clients coming on board, and at a certain point maybe in the next 2 years we think we’ll start to see more smaller-sized businesses see the value in B2B Influencer Marketing.
Ronald van Loon mentioned that a lot of the brands he works with are driven by the success they’ve seen in the US, and asked if that is still the case or if we’re seeing more success driven by European brands?
At Onalytica we’ve noticed more European brands start to use Influencer Marketing as a tactic. This shift towards Europe isn’t just happening with the large Tech brands either, but also in other sectors such as Health. So we feel there will be more budget going towards the European channels in the future, rather than B2B Influencer Marketing being primarily US focused.
MyOnalytica members are often the first people our success team would refer to partners, as we know they are open to collaborations and we know what services they offer, how much they charge and have examples of previous content they have produced.
Through our experience of helping brands run thousands of influencer campaigns over the past 10+ years, and conducting interviews with hundreds of influencers, Onalytica is perfectly poised to assist brands when it comes to introducing brands and influencers.
If you are an influencer looking to collaborate with some of the world’s top brands, click here to signup up for our B2B influencer marketplace, MyOnalytica where you can create your free profile which that will get your information in the hands of the brands you want to work with.