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by Adam Gray | @AGSocialMedia

There are many ways to skin a cat as they say and B2B marketing has more options than most. 

When you are trying to get your event (or for that matter your company/products/services) on the radar of prospective buyers why should you consider influencers alongside the usual – email marketing, telesales, advertising and the other routes you will have been used to taking?

Well, the truth of it is that influencers are, as the name suggests, influential amongst certain groups of people. If a person is a recognised influencer in the digital marketing space for example it means that they typically have a large and engaged networks and when they speak…people listen. The reason this could be of interest to you is that this might be the key to break in to new groups of people who either aren’t aware that you could help them or have already discounted you and your business because they either don’t think you’re a good fir or (potentially) they don’t think that your credible.

However, if you think that an influencer sharing your corporate marketing material will be valuable you are sadly mistaken for a couple of reasons. i) the influencer simply won’t want to do it, and ii) their audience will ignore it because it’s not the influencer speaking.

So why will the influencer refuse you might be thinking? Well they have for some time been building their credibility by giving their views (and help) on their specialist subject. This has built them a loyal following and this is where their one personal revenue stream comes from. They get speaking engagements, they get celebrity invites to events, they get free stuff, they get consulting opportunities , they get writing opportunities…in fact all of their income is derived from the fact they have a loyal fanbase who believe what they say. If they simply broadcast your corporate line it won’t engage their audience and will probably reduce their credibility.

Tim is, by most measures, recognised as the world’s #1 Social Selling influencer and an influencer in several other areas too, and when a company approaches him to “buy tweets” he says yes “of course you can but it cost $1,000,000/tweet” because he knows that every bought tweet he sends will reduce the influence (and therefore the credibility) with his audience.

However, if the influencer respects and likes the product and genuinely believes that it would be beneficial to their audience…that is a recipe for success.

Recently Tim and I were asked to attend the Oracle MBX in London as influencers…and simply talk about the event. That last bit was the key, we said we weren’t interested in broadcasting the corporate marketing messages and were told that’s not what was needed. WE were told “we think the event is going to be really good, so just attend and write about whatever you see…the good and the bad.”

So we did, we wrote a couple of blogs after the event (not this one), we interviewed some people with our phones (just 30 second clips), we tweeted about what was going on we basically told the truth.

We know the Oracle product is good, but we also know that the message can sometimes be diminished by the corporate marketing machine and many people wouldn’t engage with this. We also genuinely felt that the event was a good one and well worth people logging on to afterwards and having a look at all of the digital content if they weren’t able to attend.

The results were…well, they were exceptional, the event trended on Twitter, we drove loads of traffic to the digital event (which is still running now) and we gave our audiences something of value – further enhancing their perception of both us and Oracle.

So, if you want to start to use influencers for your business marketing, particularly events there are a few things that you need to be aware of.

  1. the influencer may not want to work with you because they don’t know, like, trust you (working with an influencer is just like making friends with someone…it doesn’t always work out).
  2. You have to check them out thoroughly. There are plenty of influencers who try to “game the system” and looking at the interactions they get will tell you a lot about whether they are the genuine article. 100 likes on a tweet from loads of accounts that have no followers should probably ring alarm bells.
  3. Is the influencer credible to (and a good fit with) your brand. If you are a 200 year old tailor’s then probably employing Kanye West as a fashion influencer isn’t a good use of your money.
  4. You need to have a good clear statement of works. Influencers are by nature good networkers and you need to tie them down so that they recognise that they are at your event working for YOU and not networking for themselves.
  5. As with any other contract you need to be clear on objectives and deliverable when you engage them.
  6. You need to remember that becoming an influencer is extremely hard work and this means that they probably aren’t going to be able to do something without warning…and if they can it might mean they’re not as influential as they say they are!

At the end of the day, influencer marketing can be a very powerful tool in your arsenal as it enables you to break in to new markets with potentially instant credibility. It isn’t cheap, but it is very cost effective for getting fast traction and good results.

Just make sure that you pick someone who is a good fit for what you’re trying to achieve.

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