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INFLUENCEWinning the War of Brand Relevance
with B2B Influencer Marketing
Introduction to B2B Influence
Why Influencer Marketing?
Defining a Market
The 1:9:90 Model of Influence
How Influence is Measured
Activating Influencers Across All Media
Profiling B2B Influencers
Using Customized Creative
Informing Executive Communication & Activation
Informing Media Relations
Real-Time Content Activation
is one of the most promising
disciplines in digital marketing.
There is something about a product
with mass consumer appeal that
makes influencer marketing extremely
Once you figure out what it is that
makes your consumers want to buy
your food or drink or shoe or car,
there are potentially hundreds—
thousands—of influential consumers
that can create interest and demand in
your company, and potentially
endorse your product. And, you can
almost instantly start tracking your
But for the business whose product or
service is targeted solely at other
businesses, this isn’t the case.
Someone with 50,000 followers on
Instagram isn’t going to be able to
take a picture of using your SaaS
platform or data center and driving
sales anytime soon, unfortunately.
Executives and business decision
makers don’t typically click on a link
from a Tweet, go to a website, add
“enterprise software” to the shopping
cart and check out. They’ll read about
the service, do research, ask questions,
ask more questions and spend
countless hours reviewing the options
Consider the minimum average sales
cycle of 3 – 6 months for technology
software. That’s down from 12 to 18
months from a few years ago. Even
though social and digital has
significantly decreased the B2B buyer
journey, it’s still quite longer than that
of a consumer.
B2B decision makers get as far as two-
thirds through the journey before they
reach out to a vendor, and that’s if the
vendor meets the minimum technical
Reaching B2B decision makers is
difficult; they are sophisticated, well-
educated and extremely skeptical about
marketing. The way to overcome this
skepticism and capture attention?
Influencing their decisions through
of marketers are experimenting with
influencer marketing programs. and
an even higher percentage claims that
their influencer marketing programs
are strategic. Source: Influence 2.0:
The Future of Influencer Marketing
Trust. Credibility. Third-Party Validation.
All three are important in the B2B buyer’s journey.
Decision makers trust people like themselves and seek
third-party validation. Google is a starting point, but they
get their data from forums, white papers, eBooks, blog
posts, analyst reports, technology review sites, but most
importantly, their peers.
Influencers in the B2B space aren’t celebrities. They are
consultants. Technologists. Engineers. Entrepreneurs.
They are business decision makers.
When they talk, others listen.
When they create content, it gets shared.
When they express their point of view about a topic, it’s
documented and respected.
And guess what? Because influencers are in fact,
influential, their content will appear on the first page of
DEFINING A MARKET
AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO INFLUENCE
A business school’s definition of a market would be
something like: "the total of all the buyers and sellers in a
specific region where you want to sell your products or
services." A region can be the entire world, countries,
states, cities or zip codes. A market can be just about
anything you want it to be.
For example, if you sell enterprise security software, your
market is IT decision makers (ITDMs). This group is very
important to your business. They are the ones making
decisions on whether to purchase your software or go
with one of your competitors. Your market might also
include media and technology journalists because they
influence the ITDM purchase process based on what they
say, write and share. Overall, this is a pretty targeted
Pepsi's market would be exponentially larger. Depending
on where you live, you’ll notice that its advertising
targets different groups of consumers -- millennials
active on social media and young families, especially if
you live in a coastal city. Its market also includes health-
conscious consumers, if you consider its healthier brands
like Aquafina and Kobe'.
On the other hand, if you sell yoga pants and have two
retail locations—one in Santa Clara and the other in Palo
Alto (both in Silicon Valley)—your market is much
smaller. It may consist of affluent consumers in very
specific zip codes who are yoga enthusiasts, drive a
Tesla, frequent Philz Coffee or just love to wear comfy
yoga pants around town and in the workplace.
While markets can be simple, they can also be extremely
complex. Imagine how segmented a market can be from
a political perspective if you consider candidates running
for office at the city, county, state and country level.
There are several markets and micro-markets that
overlap and would need to be considered.
The significance of understanding how markets are
segmented is critical to realizing how influence spreads.
The most impactful way to do this is by dissecting the
1:9:90 model of influence.
THE 1:9:90 MODEL OF INFLUENCE
True influence drives action.
In order for someone to have influence, they have to be
in a position to affect the opinions or behaviors of
another person. By definition, a B2B influencer will affect
a number of business decision makers in their
understanding of, interaction with and perception of idea
about products, brands and technology.
In 2006, the concept of the influence of one person to
many was captured by Charles Arthur, who suggested
CONTENT CREATION SHARE AND ENGAGE VIEW AND CONSUME
that “if you get a group of 100 people online then one
will create content, 10 will ‘interact’ with it (commenting
or offering improvements) and the other 89 will just view
Since then, there have been numerous iterations of
market dynamics, influence and how content is created,
shared and packaged across the internet. More than a
decade after this early definition of online influence, the
social landscape has evolved the concept and requires
1st Degree Network 2nd Degree Network 3rd Degree Network
TARGETING THE 1%
CAN REACH THE ENTIRE MARKET
THE ONE PERCENT
These are the top influencers, opinion leaders
and content creators. In the consumer world,
they’d be known as ‘trendsetters.’ They reach
the majority of the market when they speak,
write, Tweet or publish just about anything.
They have the ability to create new markets,
buzzwords (e.g. “Future of Work”, “Digital
Transformation) and new product categories.
This group used to consist only of traditional
media and analysts. Today, influencers can be
just about anyone—media, authors,
consultants, 2nd/3rd tier analysts and anyone
else with a specific point of view and a large
These are the enthusiasts; and they are very
active in social media and on forums like
Reddit. They recommend products,
restaurants, coffee shops, clothing—you name
it. They have a point of view about everything
and they aren’t afraid to share it publicly.
They often share their brand experiences with
their networks, whether good or bad. They sign
up for newsletters, leave product reviews,
participate in forums, download content,
comment on it and share it—any action that
lets their community of peers know what they
This 9 percent are the people who make or
break the conversation.
THE NINE PERCENT
The 90 percent is everyone else - the majority of
the market. It’s pretty easy to reach this group
with a $5 million dollar Super Bowl ad if you
have the budget.
They are lurkers and consumers of content. They
read, learn and absorb everything but very
rarely share. They use Google to discover new
products, reading reviews and consuming the
content of their peers without contributing
much to the conversation themselves. But don’t
neglect them, as strength lies in numbers.
It’s this portion of the market that decides how
compelling the 1 percent and the 9 percent
really are in telling your brand’s story—and
it’s all based on their purchase behavior.
THE NINETY PERCENT
The formula is
simple. Reach and
activate the 1%.
Get them talking about the brand and
you ultimately reach the entire market.
HOW INFLUENCE IS
Influencer marketing in the consumer
space is straightforward. Networks
like Clever and OpenInfluence have
established relationships with
YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat
influencers. Marketplaces like Izea and
Linquia make activating large-scale
programs quick and easy. With
enough budget, your influencer
programs can be turned on or off by
clicking a few buttons.
B2B influencer marketing is more
complicated. These kind of influencers
can’t be found in an online
marketplace, and they are fewer in
quantity and in most cases, they can’t
To reach consumers, sometimes a big
audience and an eye for photography
is enough. With the B2B influencers
you have to look beyond the follower
count. Finding the right people
requires research and consideration
of their reach, relevance and
How large is
How often are
about the topics
that are relevant
When they create content,
how does it resonate with
their broader audience
and does it result in
ACROSS ALL MEDIA
campaigns can take on a
singular focus, with the
majority of content shared
through social platforms.
In the case of B2B programs,
influencers are fewer and
further between and often
command greater attention
from the industries they affect.
As a result, activations can run
deeper and have potential to
garner success across the
Ways to activate influencers
varies by company, product,
budget and business
objectives. An integrated
approach that works across
paid, earned, shared and
owned media strategies can tie
together to support and tell
the larger brand story.
DESCRIPTION KPI BUDGET
Use paid social, specifically custom audiences to
place branded content in front of targeted
High, considering out of
pocket for media spend
Entry level approach. Identify influencers, follow
them on social, engage by sharing, liking and
commenting on influencer content.
Share branded and influencer content, leveraging
creative assets like social cards, gifs, infograms
(similar to infographics but with one data points
instead of several) and short form videos.
throughs, web traffic,
High, considering out of
pocket for creative
Invite influencers to guest post on company blog,
co-create content with influencers (industry white
papers or eBooks), curate influencer content on
There may be some
instances where B2B
influencers require some
form of payment
Identify influencers. Monitor their conversations and
sharing patterns in real-time. Create content that
matches what’s top of mind for them. Target with
paid media. Shift branded content (web, social,
bylines, blogs and news releases) to match how
influencers are talking about certain technologies.
Pair up executives with certain influencers.
and consideration, shift
of brand perception,
High, considering out of
pocket for media spend,
creative, reporting and
In many cases, your entire influencer program may be just
for internal use with the purpose of uncovering insights
about what they are saying and sharing. This intelligence
can inform content creation, paid media and even media
How? Collectively, if the influencers are going to Wired for
news, you’ll want to ensure you are prioritizing your media
relations accordingly. You may even consider a paid
sponsorship if it makes sense.
Or, if the influencers are talking about technology in a
certain way, you can mimic their vernacular making your
content more relevant to them than your competitors.
Compiling profiles that score influence based on reach,
resonance, relevance and reference can aide in this
research and ensure that your programs are laser-focused
and informed by data.
INFLUENCER: KIMBERLY JACKS
Kimberly has been writing about AI-related stories for the past five years, and maintains a daily blog on
AI and machine learning on her blog at AIandMachineLearning.com.
She was previously a product developer at XYZ Technology company, but has since developed her
own profile as an expert in artificial intelligence and has a broad degree of knowledge and interest in
the industry. Her social links.
l content typically consists of conversations, with few externa
Kimberly loves dogs, and often posts images of her Shiba Inu.
• Who Should Adopt Artificial Intelligence Marketing Technology Now?
• Artificial Intelligence Marketing Association Manifesto - #AIMA
• An artificial intelligence marketing platform helps a lingerie brand grow its revenue 155%
Artificial Intelligence Marketing is Changing the Game
TOTAL NETWORK SIZE
TOP KEYWORDS USAGE (LAST 3 MONTHS)
REACH BY CHANNEL
Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sep Nov Dec
Identifying the right influencers and analyzing their
conversations might just be all you need to drive
We have already established that the 1% drives the
market. When they speak, others listen. They are
the creator of buzzwords. The influence search
behavior. By keeping a pulse on the 1% and using
their conversational and media consumption
insights to inform content and media programs,
you’ll still be way ahead of your competition.
If your targeted
reading and sharing
content from Wired
more so than Forbes,
you can prioritize
your media relations
Influencers are the
first to discover new
media outlets. Simple
monitoring can help
identify new media
targets which could
within a PR strategy.
language trends, and
mimic the same
language on all
branded content –
social, web, bylines,
blogs, pitches and
Digital TransformationDevOpsEnterprise SecurityArtificial Intelligence
The AI conversation increased exponentially since January, with
many influencers publishing their own content on the subject and
reading/sharing articles from Wired, Forbes and MIT”s Technology
The data represents all influencer
content shared and published
over the last 12 months.
While security is still a dominant topic among the influencers the
volume of content published and shared has decreased significantly.
Influencers are still reading media from Dark Reading, Hacker News,
and The Verge to get their security content.
Many of the influencers are creating content around digital
transformation and how artificial intelligence and scalable
security solutions are needed to for companies to evolve.
They are currently reading and sharing content from the
Harvard Business Review and Business Insider.
IT Security Professional
Earlier in the year, DevOps was a high volume conversation
among the influencer. The conversation slowly declined
throughout the year. Influencers rely heavily on Dzone,
Open AI and ZDNet for content.
The days of creating planned editorial calendars
and using them as templates for your marketing
message are over. Business decision makers
want value, and the last thing they want to see is
a Tweet linking to a product page. Unfortunately,
many B2B brands still do this.
Amplifying influencer content is one way to
capture their attention. Once you’ve done so,
repeated exposure to your story throughout the
communications landscape will then entice their
engagement. This helps influencers then
understand your brand value, leading to the holy
grail of influencer marketing: brand advocacy.
This focus on quality over quantity better
depicts the business value.
Influencer writes an
article about artificial
Is #ArtificialIntelligence helping or hurting the
economy? @tsimonite explains http://bit.ly/2EW9Gs
The guide to
Your Brand Here
BY TOM SIMON
content published and
amplified using paid social
Many times, executives that want to build credibility and
authority in the digital space are unsure of what to say or
where to start. The last think you want happening is
executives sharing branded content without a unique point of
view or perspective about a topic or issue.
Influencer data can serve two purposes when it comes to
First, just an understanding of who is driving the conversation
about a topic is critical. You can easily pair up specific
executives to engage directly with the influencers. Typically,
because of the executives’ status in the company or market,
most influencers won’t hesitate to engage back, assuming the
conversation is not self-serving but a topic of interest.
Secondly, audience-based listening can deliver more relevant
and impactful topics for executives to talk about. In this case,
the audience is a group of influencers.
Audience-based listening can inform all outbound
marketing and communications.
CUSTOM LISTENING PANEL (DATABASE) OF ALL INFLUENCER CONTENT – CONVERSATIONS, MEDIA SHARING.
LISTENING | ANALYSIS | CONTENT
Future of Work
By understanding what’s ”top of mind” for influencers,
their sharing patterns and media consumption, you can
create an executive narrative that breaks through the
clutter and delivers real business value. It can also inform
which media pubs should be considered for byline
Now is the time for PR pros to start using data in order to make
smarter, more strategic decisions about media.
In the 1:9:90 model, we established that influencers are driving the
conversation about various topics and publishing and sharing
those thoughts in digital channels. The 9% re-package that
content, provide their own, unique POV and then share it.
Everyone else consumes the content.
Assuming you have identified the right influencers, you can start
to track specific patterns. For example, where are they publishing
their own content and what are they reading and then sharing.
What’s top of mind for them at a specific moment in time?
This intelligence is critical. If the trend is showing that influencers
are reading Wired more than they are Forbes, you may consider
prioritizing your media outreach differently. Or, if you notice they
are reading a media publication that you aren’t familiar with, you
may decide to reach out and build a relationship with the
journalist who writes there.
Take out the guess work when formulating a media strategy.
Nothing speaks to the value of real-time marketing more
than the “Oreo moment” from 2013. Unfortunately,
marketing opportunities like that don’t happen very
often; and almost never for B2B.
However, the process behind real-time marketing can still
be applied to content activations regardless of the public
moments they sometimes spur.
Monitoring influential conversations and using the real-
time insights to fuel content and media strategies are the
future of marketing. These insights can inform branded
content, channel prioritization and media relations.
Though it sounds contradictory, trending topics and hot
conversations can in fact be planned in advance. As
trends in conversation among influential or large groups
of people are discovered, marketing programs can be
created to capitalize off of these trends.
With the right workflow, content can be activated ahead
of the moment the conversation reaches its tipping point,
creating real-time reaction through advanced planning.
Analysis of conversation and other data can also stop
campaigns altogether. The way data is reviewed and
collected, brands have the ability dial-test and predict
whether a content campaign will succeed or fail.
When markers appear to indicate
failure, a real-time content
workflow can minimize cost
and negative impact to
Write real-time content
for employees using a
more human tone of
voice, and leveraging
the insights from the
panel weekly for real-
time insights based on
Use insights to
(blogs, images, posts)
based on what’s
trending within the
Content would drive
engagement or link
back for longer form
Target media is pitched
based on publications
the audience is reading.
Use insights from the
to inform bylines,
blogs, headlines, etc.
Using social, custom
audiences, search or
amplify content with
paid digital marketing
Share insights with
executives and subject
matter experts, with
outlined for influencer
insights (weekly, bi-
weekly, and point in
time) – trending
share of voice, topical
share of conversation,
3 4 5
Tectonic shifts in media and storytelling
have proven the value of authenticity,
honesty, credibility and data-driven
narratives that can be both justified and
validated. A robust influencer program
speaks to that authenticity factor.
Executive Vice President,
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT
In partnership with