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What Is B2B Influencer Marketing in 2020? Change Is Coming

Posted on Mar 10th, 2020
Written by TopRank Marketing
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    You already know what B2B influencer marketing is. It is “the practice of a B2B brand engaging internal and industry experts with active networks to help achieve measurable business goals.”

    But how is that changing in 2020 with social media distrust, the spread of misinformation, advertising regulations, and more?

    B2B influencer marketing in 2020 has seen new challenges arise, requiring a shift in approach. From trust to transparency to accessibility, 2020 is set to be a transformative year for influencer marketing programs.

    What is B2B influencer marketing in 2020 and how is it changing? We share the answers with you below.

    In 2020, B2B influencer marketing is… niche and targeted.

    That big-name influencer you’ve been working so hard to grab? You might want to pivot to a smaller, more niche expert.

    A whopping 70% of millennials prefer endorsements or sponsorships from non-celebrity influencers. Of course, exceptions exist, but bigger isn’t always better. In our experience, an influencer with a smaller, more engaged audience is much more valuable than an influencer with a large, disconnected following.

    It is for that reason that it is of paramount importance that you select the right influencers for the job. Even if that means rolling out a campaign with fewer influencers or passing on a big name in your space. The more niche and targeted you can be with your influencers, the better. The research shows that audiences prefer hearing from lesser-known, “hidden gems” in the industry.

    “An influencer with a smaller, more engaged audience is much more valuable than an influencer with a large, disconnected following.” @annieleuman Share on X

    In 2020, B2B influencer marketing is… transparent.

    Trust in B2B marketing remains top-of-mind in 2020. One way to grow trust in your brand is to improve your transparency – something that will most certainly impact your influencer marketing campaigns.

    Most B2B brands are already ahead of the trust curve, disclosing their influencer relationships and denoting when an influencer message or piece of content has been paid for. However, plenty of gray area still exists. For example, what if you didn’t pay an influencer? What’s the guideline then?

    An average B2B company will continue to disclose only the content they sponsored. A smart B2B company will disclose everything. Audiences don’t like feeling deceived. The more straightforward and honest your brand is, the more your audience will listen.

    In 2020, B2B influencer marketing is… approachable.

    As our own CEO Lee Odden is known for saying; “Everyone is influential about something.”

    It is with that same spirit that influencer marketing will expand and become democratized. From internal subject matter experts to customers to individuals without any formal expertise or following at all, B2B brands are realizing that valuable voices come from everywhere. 2020 audiences care about substance over style more than ever before. This leaves brands with the freedom to be more diverse in terms of the types of voices they feature and what they have to say.

    “Everyone is influential about something.” @LeeOdden Share on X

    In 2020, B2B influencer marketing is… media.

    Influencers in 2020 aren’t just a new social channel for your campaigns. They’re an entire media company.

    Take a look at Jay Acunzo or Brian Solis. From podcasts to books to speaking engagements to their own websites, their content expands far and away from just a tweet or LinkedIn post. Successful B2B brands will recognize this in 2020 and tailor their outreach and campaigns accordingly to take advantage of more than just their expertise and social media. For example, you could partner with them on a podcast episode or commission them for a blog post. The more you treat them like the media company CEOs that they are, the better.

    In 2020, B2B influencer marketing is… varied.

    We touched on this a little earlier, but in 2020, B2B brands are already evolving their message and who delivers it. However, they’ll also need to change how it’s delivered.

    2020 has seen many more content formats emerge, such as virtual reality (VR) experiences, interactive content, and more to drive engagement. And we’re certain that more content types are on the horizon. With brands thirsting for more engagement and attention-grabbing campaigns, these new and exciting content formats will also permeate the world of influencer marketing. If you want your B2B influencer marketing campaign to break through the void and stand out among the crowd, you’ll want to think about changing up the format, or even featuring several formats, to switch it up.

    “What makes experiences different and memorable is if they’re really good… or really bad. Anything in the middle tends to blur together in our recollection. Only the extremes stand out.” @NiteWrites Share on X

    In 2020, B2B influencer marketing is… experiential.

    The customer experience is everything. For marketing departments executing influencer marketing, those influencers are your customers.

    Brands that are providing an exceptional influencer experience in 2020 will have no problems retaining and growing those relationships into long-lasting partnerships. Having those positive partnerships with influencers makes it easy for them to say yes to whatever you need. But it also helps spread the word to other potential influencers that your brand is amazing to work with: a sentiment that is worth gold (or maybe platinum) in B2B influencer marketing.

    So how can you ensure your influencer experience goes above and beyond? Ask yourself:

    • What can I do to make our influencers’ lives easier?
    • How can I help our influencers reach their marketing goals?
    • When was the last time I spoke to each influencer?

    Asking these questions will emerge opportunities for a better, more beneficial experience. Haven’t spoken to someone in a month? Reach out and see how they’re doing — not to seek their contribution but to just see what’s new in their lives and how you could potentially help. It is those little details that will go a long way and separate your brand from the rest.

    “Visual, experiential content that is easy to find and satisfies business buyer’s needs to be informed, entertained and inspired will continue to be areas of focus.” @LeeOdden Share on X

    The Times, They Are a-Changin’

    In 2020, B2B influencer marketing is already seeing a great amount of change. Their approach is becoming more targeted, influencers are more diverse, the practice as a whole will become more transparent, and so much more. Adapting to these changes is what will set the good B2B brands apart from the excellent. We hope you’ll use these insights to help your influencer marketing strategy make the transformation for 2020.

    How else should you adapt your influencer marketing strategy in 2020? View these 2020 influencer marketing trends.