B2B Influencers Boom
The phrase “influencer marketing” often conjures visions of food, fashion, or fitness influencers with millions of social media followers who do brand contests and shout-outs. It may be accurate, but B2C is not the only space where the trend is getting increasingly popular.
Adding B2B influencers to the marketing strategy has gained importance considering the ticket size of deals, the complexity of the purchasing process, and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Notably, influencer marketing is gaining distinction as a crucial B2B marketing tactic, with upcoming trends like the rise of micro-influencers, a surge in specializations, and even employee influencers (1).
Influencer marketing tactics are relevant across company sizes and industries. For instance, GE offered six relevant influencers a tour of a Research and Development center and a chance to share exclusive inside access with their more than 3.5 million Instagram followers. The #GEInstaWalk was a huge success, gaining 200k social engagements within the initial 48 hours.
About 80% of B2B brands surveyed last year say that they are looking to either keep or increase their spending on influencers this year (2).
Who are B2B Influencers?
A B2B influencer is someone customers trust to guide them as part of the B2B purchasing cycle. It could be industry experts, analysts, industry bodies, opinion leaders, and even customers who have faced similar experiences and shared their insights.
B2B influencers have created their reputation over an extended period according to their expertise, experience, and voice in the industry.
Importance of B2B Influencers in 2021 and Beyond
The coronavirus pandemic has brought up new challenges for B2B marketers. As the market and business landscapes have changed amid the crisis, so have business priorities. Companies worldwide realized that the B2B services a Fortune 500 company will purchase today are different from the pre-pandemic era.
Over 90% of B2B buyers stay clear of sales messages and prefer credible content (3). B2B influencers will allow wider reach and credibility with potential clients who accept messages from a neutral and trustworthy source.
Yet, a serial entrepreneur Chris Bakke brings up, the B2B influencer arena is highly unmonetized and underdeveloped.
I’m bullish on “B2B influencers”
Every time we’re comparing different SaaS solutions, I ask one of my friends who’s running a company a few months ahead of us, and 95% of the time just go with their first recommendation.
This space is un-tracked and un-monetized today.
— Chris Bakke (@ChrisJBakke) June 1, 2021
Even though the overall influencer marketing space was 9.7 billion USD in 2020, according to the Influencer Marketing Hub, the bulk of that was focused on B2C campaigns (4). However, Demand Gen research (5) indicates that B2B clients consider 3rd party sponsored or co-branded content more trustworthy than content straight from the vendor.
Future Trends of B2B Influencer Marketing
With more than 80% of B2B marketers believing that influencer marketing will be more prominent in an upcoming way (6), and since the world has changed, there must be new tactics and strategies.
Below are six trends for B2B influencer marketing for 2021 and beyond:
- Democratized Influence: B2B purchasing is a team play involving people at multiple levels. More businesses will tap into niche influence, whether they are customers, prospects, or employees.
- Brandividual Media: More business influencers will operate their media networks of several influencers with distribution channels and compete with conventional digital media.
- More Engaging Content: B2B space is evolving from boring to bold via recorded and live stream audio, video, interactive, and AR/VR content.
- Influencer Tech Integration: Influencer identification, engagement, and measurement will increasingly become integrated with cloud marketing platforms.
- Consumerization of B2B Influencers and Content: Business influencers will publish more consumer-like content on YouTube while streaming on other social media platforms.
- Influencer Experience Management: There will be an increased focus on managing influencers’ experiences to inspire more recommendation behaviors and brand advocacy.
Of the B2B markets surveyed, over 80% believed that influencer strategies would be more important in 2021, yet about 60% believe they don’t have the right skills in-house to benefit from this trend.
It means that there are several opportunities to help businesses with their influencer efforts.
- Tools and services to help businesses find and manage influencers: 39% of businesses complained that the process is very manual.
- Services to create a documented influencer strategy: 68% of businesses found success with influencer marketing had a documented strategy than about 25% of less successful businesses.
- Employees training to develop them into influencers within their field.
Operations Handled by Third-Party Agencies (7)
With the B2B SaaS industry, subscription spending is most prominent among sales and engineering teams. However, it is also growing fastest among customer service and HR teams, highlighting that each of these segments could become promising niches for emerging influencers.
Creative engagement could include an exclusive webinar on a trending subject at which an industry influencer talks, a university joint venture to design a certification program for skill development with an influencer, or a virtual think-tank group in which influencers work together with customers to solve an industry issue.
Edible Models for STEM Students
When we think about school, reading textbooks and watching educational videos may come to our minds. However, what if we could taste the lesson instead of seeing it?
That is what a group of students did for a study recently published in Science Advances. Researchers had 3D-printed, candy-sized models of proteins and asked students to identify them with their mouths.
They created two protein models, one made up of edible gelatin, the stuff used for gummy bears, and the other with inedible surgical resin.
The researchers blindfolded more than 281 university-level students, gave them the models, and asked some of them to identify the models with mouths while others with their hands.
Students who used their mouths were better at identifying which protein model was compared to those with their hands. The study further highlights how the skin of our tongue is extremely sensitive, further increased thanks to our taste buds.
The study’s most remarkable learning is that the students were almost equally good at figuring out protein models with their mouths as they were by sight. The way several visually-impaired individuals learn to identify an object.
“Eyesight appears to be no better than mouth or hand at figuring out esoteric shapes.” – Baumer et al., study authors.
The study’s findings hint that using edible models made for mouth identification can open new doors for more inclusive educational tools.
Visualizing 3D Imagery Through Mouth With Candy-like Models (8)
As noted, researchers found that university-level students can learn and correctly identify bit-sized 3D molecular models with over 86% accuracy during a blindfolded test, which is about the same as eyesight.
The models, which range in size from a peanut to a rice grain, were shaped like proteins we typically find in a textbook. However, they were made from either nonedible resin or gelatin.
With more than 36 million people experiencing it globally, including 1 million children, it is a huge piece of news for blind students who often face a challenge in STEM classes (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) that depend heavily on 3D diagrams to teach biology and chemistry (9).
However, the insight does not serve the visually impaired alone.
More than 40% of students could identify and recall these shapes more accurately with their mouths than with their hands alone, highlighting an interesting new path to learning while also coming with several entrepreneurial opportunities.
Since the discovery is novel and pretty nascent, businesses may find success selling candy teaching aids, even for people who are not blind. Notably, researchers have successfully created 3D models using chocolate, gelatin, and taffy.
Businesses can also apply the same technology to a line of supplements for sight-impaired individuals to help them distinguish different pills.
Entrepreneurs can also offer a special line of bit-sized nonedible 3D models for each image in popular STEM books for seeing-impaired students or those with visual learning troubles.
In India, more than 32% of students select STEM, which in turn produces more than 2.7 million graduates (10).
Businesses can also use the new 3D visualization edible developments for marketing purposes for added attraction, engagement, persuasion, and conversion.
Notably, researchers made nonedible models for 0.10 USD each using a 3D printer. These models were small enough to pack about 100 of them on a standard textbook-sized piece of cardboard.
You can also check out the full research paper to gain more insights into the exact process researchers used to create the molds.