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TopRank Marketing’s Top 6 B2B Influencer Marketing Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2019

B2B Influencer Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2019

B2B Influencer Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2019 How many of you can count the number of times you’ve purchased a product or made a decision based on a recommendation from a friend, acquaintance, review on the web or a celebrity endorsement? I’d venture to guess that most of you would say: “Too many to count.” That’s because we all rely on advice from others to help us make sense of a complex world where we don’t always have all of the information we need to make a decision. Influencer marketing has been around for ages (literally), but it’s only begun to build steam within the B2B world over the past few years. The good news is that for many, B2B influencer marketing is still in its infancy—which means there are plenty of opportunities to begin implementing influencer marketing today. Interestingly, a report from Twitter found that recommendations from influencers are quickly gaining momentum and are nearly equal to receiving recommendations from actual friends. To help you navigate the future of B2B influencer marketing and guide your approach, we’ve put together six trends and predictions to watch for in 2019.

#1 – Increasing Data Privacy Concerns Will Impact the Role of Influencers

This year new GDPR regulations took effect across the EU, which left many global brands scrambling to make sure that they were appropriately handling personal identifying information. What many brands didn’t consider, was how it will impact influencer marketing programs. Some big brands have already begun evolving how they handle influencer information and what is needed in terms of documentation to properly meet new requirements. And that will only continue to increase. As Ursula Ringham, Head of Global Influencer Marketing for SAP*, told us earlier this year: “GDPR is going to be the stake in the ground for all data privacy—bar none. As GDPR kicks off, we’ll start to see lawsuits and controversies in the news and people will become increasingly aware and engaged. In the U.S., we’re already becoming more aware of data privacy issues, especially after Cambridge Analytica.” She added: “But bottom line, GDPR will be really important. And as a result, our influencers will become even more important and valuable. They’re going to be our trusted brand ambassadors; our trusted voices. They’ll be a huge asset because people don’t trust brands outright—they trust people.” [bctt tweet=”Bottom line, #GDPR will be really important. And as a result, our #influencers will become even more important and valuable. @usularingham #InfluencerMarketing #B2B” username=”toprank”]

#2 – Capturing Influencer Attention Will Become Increasingly Difficult

As the demand for working with influencers increases, it will become more and more difficult to capture and hold their attention. As a result, before reaching out to influencers to collaborate, it will be even more important to first determine and communicate what’s in it for them. Showing influencers value and displaying that you understand what they’re interested in will help you begin building a relationship of mutual value. As Rani Mani, Head of Influencer Social Enablement at Adobe, told us in a recent interview: “We at Adobe pride ourselves on cultivating and nurturing long term relationships with our influencers. We look at it as dating with an eye towards long term commitment which means we are always looking to establish a ‘give to get’ exchange where all parties come out ahead.” The key that Rani touches on? Building lasting relationships, which will require more effort than simply reaching out when you need something. As Lee Odden, TopRank Marketing’s CEO, recently wrote “Brands that use a shotgun approach to invite influencers only when they need them won’t see very high recruitment rates. The same goes for non-personalized, ego-centric messages from brands that are only concerned with what the brand wants to get out of the collaboration.” And while we advise placing a lot of emphasis on building these relationships organically, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pay your influencers where appropriate. Think about what you’re asking of your influencers and make sure that you understand their expectations as well. Onalytica’s recent survey of brand and influencer relationships found that influencers have varying objectives, but many are most interested in building thought leadership and gaining exposure on specific topics followed by expanding their networks to reach new audiences. [bctt tweet=”Brands that use a shotgun approach to invite influencers only when they need them won’t see very high recruitment rates. @leeodden #InfluencerMarketing #B2B” username=”toprank”]

#3 – Emphasis on Specific Influencer Qualities Will Evolve

When you consider what makes for a good B2C influencer, the most sought-after quality is that they have an extensive network. For many B2B marketers, the emphasis has followed that same path. However, influence is not solely based on the number of followers that an expert has, something that is becoming more clear in the wake of fake social media accounts and inflated follower counts. True, social reach should be a consideration for your B2B influencer marketing program, but not the only one. Sometimes the influencers with the largest reach may not be engaging their audience in a meaningful way that leads to more users connecting with your content. As a result, if you aren’t already, you need to be looking at a variety of influencer qualities (each of which are important) when identifying influencers to work with in 2019 and beyond. As you can see in the chart below, different types of experts can positively impact your program in several different ways. As your influencer program continues to mature, begin determining what the right mix of influencers to include for maximum impact. [bctt tweet=”If you aren’t already, you need to be looking at a variety of influencer qualities (each of which are important) when identifying influencers to work with in 2019 and beyond. – @azeckman #InfluencerMarketing #B2B” username=”toprank”]

#4 – The Call for Tighter Topical Alignment

When many brands first start dipping their toes in the influencer marketing waters, it can be difficult to suss out exactly who to co-create content with. Unfortunately, one of the mistakes many brands make is working with influencers that don’t quite align with the topics they want to share with their target audience. As a result, in 2019 and beyond, you need to commit to meaningful influencer identification and collaboration if you want to co-create content that informs, engages, and resonates with your audiences. For example, if you want to collaborate with an influencer on the topic of “Account Based Marketing” it’s important to conduct critical research to determine what their take is on the topic, and if it’s a topic they publish content on frequently. Otherwise, you may not end up with the level of content that your audience is anticipating. Additionally, the influencer audience may not be a fit for the content topic which will not lead to the level of engagement you’re seeking. Part of TopRank Marketing’s process with our clients is to conduct research internally and externally to determine which topics should be included in influencer co-creation programs to best target the audience. Below is an example of how these topics could be priorities: But marketer beware. The goal is not to control the opinion of influencers. Instead, focus on finding the RIGHT influencers that already align with the message you’d like to create content around.

#5 – Influencer Video Content Will Reign Supreme

Video has been a rising content marketing star over the past couple years. But in 2018, video is officially dominating social media news feeds, search results, and the minds of our target audience. It’s everyhere, and the launch and refinement of native video and Stories features on top social platforms has heightened this demand. Both live and pre-recorded video that can be uploaded natively on social platforms presents an opportunity for brands and influencers alike. Everything from talking head videos to interviews and motion graphics are all content co-creation moments that can be captured and shared again and again. So, as the overall demand for video increases, so will the demand for increased quality. If you plan on co-creating video with influencers, you need to plan for the unexpected. If recording remotely, be sure to prep your influencers beforehand and run a test before you begin recording. If you’re recording onsite (at somewhere like their office or event) be sure to create a contingency plan in case your original setup is not conducive to capturing great video. [bctt tweet=”Both live and pre-recorded video that can be uploaded natively on social platforms presents an opportunity for brands and influencers alike. @azeckman #Influencer Marketing #B2B” username=”toprank”]

#6 – The Battle Between ROI & Awareness Will Continue

Every B2B marketer wants to enhance brand awareness, recognition, and advocacy. But they also want to drive a high volume of qualified leads. But to get from one end of the spectrum to the other, you need to deploy tactics and strategies that are tailored to your audience where they actually are in their buyer’s journey. The same goes for influencer marketing programs. Not all are created equal. For example, if your goal in working with influencers is to build awareness, you’ll need to deploy a specific strategy and mix of tactics that are vastly different than if your goal is demand or lead gen. In fact, the most recent Influence 2.0 Report from Traackr and Brian Solis found that the two top influencer priorities for marketers are to increase brand awareness followed closely by determining attribution and ROI. Influencer marketing can absolutely have an impact on both lead gen and awareness programs. However, in 2019 and beyond, it will be essential that you build an approach that aligns with your objectives. And as influencer marketing programs continue to mature, it will be essential that brands nail down exactly what they need to measure and how they’ll measure.

Ready. Set. Connect

2019 stands to be a big year for B2B influencer marketing. Consumers and influencers alike will expect more from the brands they work with, which means that one of the most important steps you can take as a brand is to build your influencer marketing program on a solid foundation. Instead of just throwing money at a program and expecting results, it’ll take time, effort and people to build meaningful relationships that will have a lasting impact. Want to know what’s on tap for social media marketing in 2019? Check out our top social media trends and predictions to watch in 2019.

The post TopRank Marketing’s Top 6 B2B Influencer Marketing Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2019 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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Social Media Secrets: 5 Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers

Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers

Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers

It's plain to see that B2B marketers, at large, see the value in social media. The latest B2B benchmarking research from CMI and MarketingProfs found that nearly two out of three respondents (61%) increased their usage of social media for content marketing purposes in the previous year. Another new report shows that social content is atop the list of focal areas for B2B marketers in the coming year.

It’s also fair to say, based on various data points and conversations with folks in the biz, that most of us feel we could be doing better with social. The size of the audiences on these platforms make them essential to any digital strategy, but breaking through suppressive algorithms and showing clear ROI is a perpetual challenge for brands.

One pivotal key to excelling with social media marketing is understanding all the tools you have at your disposal. Each platform offers a number of capabilities that seem to be underutilized by marketers who either don’t know they exist, or don’t fully recognize their potential impact.

With this in mind, we’re setting out to highlight some of the most useful yet overlooked features for driving results on social media platforms. Today we're focusing on the channel most pertinent to B2B marketers: LinkedIn*, with its member base of more than half a billion professionals.

Take Notice of These 5 Marketing Tools & Features on LinkedIn

Whether your goal is building brand awareness, generating leads, or boosting conversions, these five fundamental functionalities can provide a big assist if you aren't taking advantage of them already.

#1: Robust (and Now Simplified) Audience Targeting

LinkedIn recently overhauled its Campaign Manager tool (the interface through which marketers build, manage, and measure ads) around an objective-based advertising framework. The basic purpose of this initiative was to make it easier for users to align every element of their campaigns with the overarching objective. One of the slickest improvements to come out of this is the audience setup experience, which is now simpler and more intuitive.

From a B2B marketing perspective, the depth of available professional targeting parameters is by far LinkedIn’s biggest relative advantage compared to other social platforms. Nowhere else can you accurately filter audiences based on facets such as Job Title and Job Seniority. This provides unparalleled ability to reach decision makers and purchase influencers directly.

The revamped interface makes it quicker and more straightforward to select a qualified audience in line with your campaign goals.


#2: Revamped LinkedIn Analytics

The latest Social Media Marketing Industry Report via Social Media Examiner found more than half of respondents (54%) either uncertain or disagreeing that they are “able to measure the return on investment (ROI) for my organic social media activities.”

This is another area of Campaign Manager that LinkedIn recently spruced up. Given that advertising on this platform tends to be more expensive than other social networks, it’s especially important to ensure you’re getting return on that spend. The new reporting experience makes it easier to see results at a glance, and make optimization tweaks on the fly.

The underlying appeal of LinkedIn’s targeting facets also applies to its reporting mechanism; you can get an aggregated look at who is viewing and engaging with your content (i.e., which companies, which job titles, which experience levels). These insights can help you align your LinkedIn strategy and even your content marketing strategy more generally.

#3: Content Suggestions

Can’t figure out what to share on social media? That’s a common enough challenge. The Content Suggestions tab, found on the top nav bar within LinkedIn Page admin center, offers ample inspiration. It serves up a list of third-party articles your defined audience is engaging with — essentially a readily available stream of targeted, trending content.

Not only does this make it easy for marketers and social media managers to find share-worthy content that’s more likely to resonate with their followings, but it can also fuel employee advocacy efforts.

#4: Website Retargeting

Retargeting is a popular digital marketing tactic, which involves serving ads to people who’ve already encountered your brand. The element of familiarity, plus a concrete demonstration of past interest, tends to drive considerably higher clicks and conversions than standard ads.  

Through its Matched Audiences feature, LinkedIn allows you to place a pixel on your company’s website, then serve ads to people who’ve visited it before, while they’re on LinkedIn. It’s a great way to follow up with someone in a different context. One especially savvy approach is to create customized retargeting creative based on the specific section of your site a person visited (i.e., upper-funnel messaging for someone who went to your “About” page, and lower-funnel for someone who checked out a solution page.)


#5: Lead Gen Forms

This might be my favorite marketing tool on LinkedIn, and it definitely seems like one that more B2B brands could be utilizing. Lead Gen Forms are leveraged in combination with various types of ads, enabling your company to collect valuable contact info (and additional data about a prospect) from an individual who downloads something of value with minimal friction.

Unlike most gated-asset forms, which require a user to tediously fill out multiple fields, Lead Gen Forms automatically populate based on the member’s LinkedIn profile data. As such, it takes only a couple of seconds to get through the process. Because you’re attaining a more comprehensive snapshot of people who download, you can better qualify them as leads in comparison with other form-fills that often procure only a name, phone number, and email.


Step Up Your LinkedIn Marketing Game

LinkedIn can be one of the most valuable components of a holistic B2B marketing strategy. As mentioned earlier, there’s no denying it’s a pricier place to play than most other social networks, but you’re also paying for access to a higher-quality audience. Using the five features above can help you understand, segment, reach, and engage this audience efficiently while closely tracking the impact of your efforts.

Another underutilized tool on LinkedIn is video, which has been a key focus for the platform recently. Learn about all the metrics and specs for video on LinkedIn, as well as every other major social network!

*Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post Social Media Secrets: 5 Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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