Influencer marketing has been a hot topic for a few years now. While most of the publicity has been dedicated to high profile campaigns in the B2C industry, there are also less expensive and more organic ways of creating lasting relationships with influencers in the B2B world.

The first step to targeting key influencers of course, is to identify them. You may already have some key figures in your industry in mind, but if you don’t, here are a few helpful tools:

  • Buzzsumohelps you to identify influencers and filter them by authority – a great way to differentiate between perceived and actual influencers.
  • Buffer now has an Influencer section under Analytics, which shows you your most influential and engaged followers. You can also identify influencers on your top keywords, and see who is sharing your content. (Buffer is also a fantastic social media management tool which I've raved about before).

Once you’ve identified your key influencers, here are a few ways to get their attention:

  • Follow them on social media. Sounds obvious but they will get the notification.
  • Like, retweet and comment on their content on social media. Another soft way of bringing your business to their notice.
  • See what content they are sharing and identify any that fit within your content strategy. Passle the content, select their tweet and thank them for this on Twitter. This is a great way to engage an influencer into conversation (see the video below to see how that works).
  • Interview key influencers for your Passle. Interviews have a high success rate and, again, it’s a great way to start talking to your influencer, making them more receptive to your business and to promoting it in the future.
  • Review, promote, or feature in another way a project created by your target influencer. For instance, if they’ve written a book you admire, why not include it in a top 5 list?

Why do this?

What makes influencers effective is that they've built up an audience that trusts them. As a result, they are unlikely to promote something that could compromise that trust. Building up this relationship works both ways:

  1. You can educate the influencer and get them to a position where they will be a happy advocate - resulting in a much more effective campaign.
  2. All this research and relationship-building ensures that you feel that they are the right influencer for your brand (i.e they influence the right people for you).

For the next steps, Ketchum have put together a great Field Guide to Influencer Marketing