Joanna Newsome – Account Director at Spreckley 

There’s something about the phrase “influencer” in terms of marketing that immediately brings to mind a soft or thinly veiled sales pitch that someone’s been paid to endorse.

But then I think of my own experiences and how I go about making decisions, and not just during the purchasing process, but even what I decide to have for my tea. To get a new idea for dinner, I’ll probably do a quick Google search for blog recommendations, or immediately head for the reviews section of BBC Good Food to get the ‘real-life’ view of what recipes work and which ones don’t. I’d never consider a non-food purchase over a couple of quid even, without consulting YouTubers and bloggers (or expert friends and family). I’m not usually consulting journalists, or people trying to sell to me, but instead I look to people like me. I’d argue that social media stars have significant clout because you get a personal sense of who they are and can identify with them.

B2B communications is moving in the same direction. Potential customers are using social media to find out recommendations of potential suppliers and what the latest thinking in their sector is. They are looking for people like them – in a business context at least – and then absorbing what they say to help them make decisions.

B2B campaigns can be designed in two ways – to hunt down established influencers on social media and engage them in dialogue and debate to attract attention. Or, the campaign can be designed to build B2B organisations into influencers themselves. Frequently a campaign will be a blend of the two.

Journalists are still influencers – there’s no doubt that we hold them close and to sell in your client to an editor is still incredibly valuable – but so too are industry contributors.

Influencer relations is more about securing a non-salesy, thought-leadership approach that’s much more likely to resonate with your audience. PR (especially B2B) is much more about profile building, clout in what you’re saying, credibility in proof, and how people follow and respond to you. The off-the-cuff nature of social media for example, adds a certain integrity in the B2B world – if it doesn’t sound carefully crafted and overtly promotional – you’re in there. If you offer convincing arguments to discussions in your industry groups on LinkedIn, people will engage with you, and remember you. If you exchange ideas with other influencers, you can demonstrate your passion for your industry or niche and show that everything deserves healthy debate. It may even turn into a sale down the line, or you may heavily sway someone else’s decision for something else based on what you say.

The beauty of our B2B industry is that it is increasingly possible for you to become an influencer in your niche. While there are plenty of consumer influencers covering the broadest topics of lifestyle, travel and fashion, you could become the country’s number one followed thinker on the challenges and barriers to adoption of cloud-based accountancy tools. If you just so happen to sell this kind of technology, too, that’s a bonus!

If you’re thinking about become an influencer – why not give us a call to discuss, and in the meantime, check out these tips on how to take social media by storm and inspire others to make decisions.