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Do Your Homework: Selecting the Right Influencers for Your B2B Brand With Tips from the Experts

Selecting B2B Influencers

Selecting B2B Influencers The influencer identification, validation, and recruitment process is time consuming, resource intensive, and high stakes. Without the right mix of influencers to drive awareness, intrigue, conversation, and action, your marketing initiatives will miss the mark with your audience and fall short of expectations. But how? How do you artfully and strategically find, vet, and entice industry experts to partner with you? You need to do your homework—and fortunately, insights from several seasoned B2B influencer marketing experts can provide some great guidance. Read on to get perspectives and advice from leaders serving a range of B2B brands, as well as some of our own resident experts.

#1 – Set the bar for quality—not quantity of audience reach.

Analyzing an influencer’s social reach and following is certainly par for the influencer identification and qualification course. Amplification and reaching new audiences are primary objectives for most marketers’ influencer marketing efforts. But seasoned B2B influencer marketing leaders have some words of caution: Don’t let large follower counts be a distraction or the only means of qualification. via GIPHY It’s critical to dig deeper to truly gain an understanding of who an influencer is, what they can offer your audience and brand, what they’re talking about, the kind of content they’re sharing, and the list goes on. “Go beyond what the numbers are and see what that data really means,” Amisha Gandhi, Vice President of Influencer Marketing and Communications for SAP Ariba, shared with us. “Look at who influencers are engaging with, how many comments they receive and how long they’ve been engaging.” [bctt tweet=”When identifying and qualifying influeners, go beyond what the numbers are and see what that data really means. – @AmishaGandhi” username=”toprank”] And as Martin Jones, Senior Marketing Manager at Cox Communications shared: “Selection of the right influencers for your campaign will be one of the single most significant factors in its success or failure. It’s easy to get excited about a big name or an influencer with a large following, but neither of those will necessarily translate to your ultimate goal of delivering results to your organization.” [bctt tweet=”It’s easy to get excited about a big name or an influencer with a large following, but neither of those will necessarily translate to your ultimate goal of delivering results to your organization. @martinjonesaz” username=”toprank”]

#2 – Keep relevance at the forefront.

Relevance is a key success driver for any marketing initiative. Relevance breeds resonance, which is key to connecting with buyers at every stage of the funnel and building trust. Working with influencers who don’t topically align or lack the right expertise simply won’t produce fruitful results for either party—or your audience. As Ashley Zeckman, TopRank Marketing’s Senior Director of Digital Strategy, has said: “First, you’re going to want to identify the topics that are most important to your audience and how they align with the topics you want to be known for. Then, you’ll need to determine what types of influencers (aligned with your target topics) will be the best fit based on your objectives. Each influencer type holds a different value for your audience and your brand.” Here’s an example of a topical alignment score Ashley shared. (See if you can guess the “client.”) [bctt tweet=”Identify the topics that are most important to your audience and how they align with the topics you want to be known for. Then identify the right types of relevant influencers. @azeckman” username=”toprank”] Influencer types include brandividuals—those recognizable experts who have an extensive network size—as well as up-and-comers, niche and internal experts, and current customers and prospects. One great way to ensure relevance is to do some old-fashioned crowd sourcing, according to Lucy Moran, now the Senior Vice President of Brand, Digital, and BU Marketing at Dun & Bradstreet. “Ask your customers who they follow or read,” she said. “They are your target audience and you want to be where they are.” Finally, finding the right fit also comes down to shared values, according to Abobe’s Head of Social Influencer Enablement, Rani Mani. “My main tip is to make the upfront investment to ensure the influencer is the right cultural fit for your brand,” she told us. “Ultimately, ask yourself pretty much the same questions as you would if you were going to hire this individual because, at the end of the day, they will be representing your brand.” [bctt tweet=”Make the upfront investment to ensure the influencer is the right cultural fit for your brand. At the end of the day, they’ll be representing your brand. – @ranimani0707″ username=”toprank”] Read: Creating Content Connections: 10 Lessons in Resonance from Content Marketing Pros

#3 – Take an always-on approach to vetting existing and prospective influencers.

As TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden is often quoted as saying: “Everyone is influential about something.” This means that there’s always opportunities to connect and work with relevant thought leaders—and you should be looking at those opportunities on a regular basis. [bctt tweet=”Everyone is influential about something. @leeodden ” username=”toprank”] Perhaps one of the biggest opportunities in this arena is identifying and nurturing up-and-coming experts. As Lee also says: “Work with an influencer, you’re friends for a day. Help someone become influential and they’re a friend for life.” But from an even more practical perspective, regularly vetting your influencer partners and prospects helps ensure you’re keeping your eye on relevance. “A sophisticated influencer program doesn’t rely on a single identification method or one-time vetting process to start and maintain a relationship with an influencer, but rather develops a scorecard that gets constantly reviewed and, most importantly, evolves as this emerging field matures,” Dr. Konstanze Alex, Head of Corporate Influencer Relations at Dell, so eloquently said. [bctt tweet=”A sophisticated influencer program doesn’t rely on a single identification method or one-time vetting process to start and maintain a relationship with an influencer. @Konstanze” username=”toprank”]

#4 – Aim to build long-term relationships, not one-time transactions.

At its core, influencer marketing is all about brands engaging and developing relationships with individuals—individuals who have relevant topical expertise, reach, and resonance that aligns with the goals of the brand. But strong, lasting relationships aren’t built in a day. We’re big believers in growing partnerships long before you make your first collaboration ask. But the linchpin of this approach is showing influencers the value a partnership with your brand can bring. “We’ve scaled back the scope of our engagement activities to focus on developing collaborative relationships with fewer individuals,” Angela Lipscomb, Influencer Relations Manager for SAS, shared.  “That means that sometimes we focus on influencers who may not have the largest reach, but have greater engagement and subject-matter authority and the ability to inspire.” “I want to get to know what makes that person tick, and how SAS can be of help to the influencer, and not just how they can be of value to us,” she added. [bctt tweet=”We focus on influencers who may not have the largest reach, but have greater engagement and subject-matter authority and the ability to inspire. @angelalipscomb” username=”toprank”] Read: Why Always-On Is Always Better for Driving B2B Influencer Marketing Success

Do Your Homework, B2B Marketers

Your brand, industry, product or service, and audience are undeniably unique—and influence varies. Furthermore, it may be easier than ever to give the perception of influence. (Here’s looking at you fake follower counts.) As a result, you need to look beyond metrics to qualitative indicators to get to know prospective influencer partners. You need to keep relevance top of mind. You need to consistently be vetting and refining your list of partners and prospects. And you need to put effort into building relationships, rather than engaging in a one-time transactions if you want to scale. Want more B2B influencer marketing insights? Get inspiration and insight on Influencer Marketing 2.0 from our own Lee Odden.

The post Do Your Homework: Selecting the Right Influencers for Your B2B Brand With Tips from the Experts appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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Content Curation Inspiration: Types, Examples, & Use Cases for B2B Marketers

Content Curation Inspiration for B2B Marketers

If you create and share content, curation is part of your B2B marketing strategy. From seasoning a blog post with key third-party statistics to sharing an interesting article from an industry publication or influencer across your social channels, you’re curating.

But content curation has a place beyond adding an insight or two to your content.

With large volumes of information available today and short attention spans, curation allows content marketers to create more convenient, valuable content experiences for their target audience, while growing thought leadership, bolstering their content calendar, and increasing production efficiency.

What types of curation exist? How are B2B brands doing curation? When does it make sense to do curation? Let’s dive in.

Types of Content Curation and B2B Examples

The Curation Kitchen Staples: Microcontent

Statistics. Quotes. Tips. Social media commentary. Third-party videos. Gifs. Memes. Curated microcontent is what gives your content its flavor—whether its used as seasoning in a long-form blog post or modularly in short-form social content. This is foundational curation, and it plays a role in all other types. And as TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden once said:

“Snackable content can often be managed and repurposed like ingredients to create a main course. On their own, short-form content like quotes, tips, and statistics are useful for social network shares and as added credibility to blog posts, eBooks, and articles.”

See what I did there? Microcontent is simplistic and easy to integrate, helping you provide more depth and insight on a topic, infuse credibility, and highlight industry experts.

When microcontent curation makes sense: Always—if the content is relevant to the topic you’re discussing. Microcontent helps you provide proof points to bolster your narrative and build credibility with your audience.

The Curation Classics: Roundups, Listicles, and Resource Hubs

Collecting key bits of information and insights and organizing them into an easy to digest format is the quintessential content curation tactic. The premise is simple: You’re gathering interesting tidbits from multiple sources on a specific topic and placing them in one central location.

The underlying theme for this curation tactic (and any content tactic for that matter) is relevance and value. It needs to be topically relevant to your audience and it can’t be a lazy compilation; it needs to serve a purpose.

News roundups are perhaps the most popular of the curation classics. We’ve all seen them and likely have a few we go back to on a regular basis, so I won’t spend too much time here. (Shameless plug to check out our weekly digital marketing news roundup.)

But here’s an example of a roundup style piece from EHS and sustainability consulting firm *Antea Group that brings video content together to have a little fun and spark a connection with the audience.

The post showcases six workplace safety videos—all sourced and easily embedded from YouTube—with movie-critic-like commentary that make connections to the daily life and work of their target audience.

Content Curation Example from Antea Group

When it comes to resource hubs, HubSpot is an “ultimate list” destination on a variety of subjects, most notably digital marketing statistics. Here’s a recent example featuring Instagram statistics.

Content Curation Example from HubSpot

For listicles, one of our recent BIGLIST editions featuring 50 of the top marketing blogs featuring martech brands is a solid example. Time was spent on researching and vetting, and the list provides a short and sweet description of each blog, as well as our favorite recent article to give readers a cue on what’s worth checking out first.

Content Curation Example from TopRank Marketing's Lee Odden

Finally, events can be great opportunities for curation. *Introhive, an enterprise relationship management (ERM) platform, regularly curates social and team member insights to compile post-event infographics with top takeaways.

Content Curation Example from Introhive

When classic curation makes sense: Classic curation is largely an awareness and engagement play. If you’re looking to provide your audience with a helpful resource that hits quick on the points, and showcase your brand as a thoughtful expert in the space, this type of curation can make it easy for your audience to find insight and inspiration—and minimize the amount of time they need to spend on the hunt.

The Next Level of Curation: Thought Leadership Mashups

Curation isn’t limited to assembling a robust, scannable list of information or resources, or seasoning original content with stats, quotes, or videos. Curation can fuel thought leadership.

Great examples of this kind of curation are trends-focused pieces. Taking a cue from the classic curation formats, this kind of content aims to identify one or more trend or pattern using curated bits of information, all tied together with your knowledge and expertise.

This could be small-scale or large-scale—meaning a single concept could provide the supporting content or tie-in, or it could be your take on a collection of related trends, facts, or insights. This piece from *SAP’s Digitalist Magazine is a great example.

Content Curation Example from Introhive

But this kind of curation doesn’t just lend itself to discussing trends. Many of our own blog posts use a mashup curation method to educate and engage marketers, and define our perspectives and approach to marketing.

This can be seen in a recent post from Nick Nelson on how to write clear, concise content. Using our words intentionally is a core belief, and Nick was able to illustrate that with his deep knowledge and some relevant insights from third parties.

Content Curation Example from TopRank Marketing's Nick Nelson

Also, when we say “curation,” we don’t just mean collecting insights from third-party sources. You can curate your own content—it’s just most often called repurposing.

Salesforce has a great example here. This recent post touches on a key trend in the marketplace (lack of consumer trust), leverages microcontent from Salesforce’s own research (the Trends in Consumer Trust research report), and then original content builds a narrative for a specific audience (retailers).

Content Curation Example from Salesforce

In addition, curating and repurposing influencer content is an especially big opportunity. More than likely, the insights that influencers share with you have implications and applications across other related topics.

When curation mashups make sense: If you want to build thought leadership on a subject, mashups should be in your content lineup. Mashups allow you to elevate an idea, perspective, challenge, or opportunity, while using existing content as a jumping off-point or as part of the foundation of your take.

Read: A Tasty, Strategic Addition to the Content Marketing Table: ‘Repurposed Content Cobbler’

Content Curation for the Win

Regardless of your editorial plan, you’re already doing some form of content curation. However, you can make curation a more deliberate and effective part of your overall B2B content marketing strategy.

Whether you create an ultimate list featuring statistics from multiple sources, provide high-level takeaways from an event or report, give your own content new life to build thought leadership, content curation can provide value and convenience for your audience and writing team.

Looking for content curation best practices, tools, and more examples? Check out our post on Content Curation 101.

*Disclosure: Antea Group, SAP, and Introhive are TopRank Marketing clients.

The post Content Curation Inspiration: Types, Examples, & Use Cases for B2B Marketers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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