Trust Factors: The (In)Credible Impact of B2B Influencer Marketing

How Influencer Marketing Can Help B2B Brands Build Trust

How Influencer Marketing Can Help B2B Brands Build Trust Trust is a currency. It’s arguably the
most valuable currency in today’s B2B marketing environment. And
much like real money, it needs to be earned; the risks of
attempting to counterfeit trust are grave. In the first installment
of our Trust Factor series, we discussed how
creating best-answer content serves a long-term trust-building
. Today we’ll examine the ways in which partnering
with influencers can provide a dramatic boost to your brand’s
credibility and authority in the eyes of your audience. We’ll
also share some examples of companies that are already doing this
effectively, and the lessons we can draw from them. There are no
shortcuts when it comes to developing genuine trust with your
customers. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take the shortest
possible path, so long as you know where you’re going. Walking
this road with the right influencers at your side can expedite the
journey. Coordinating Content, Co-opting Trust In the past, we have

defined influencer marketing
as “the practice of engaging
internal and industry experts with active networks to help achieve
measurable business goals.” Building trust should be a primary
goal for virtually every business, and is a helpful guiding
imperative as you start building out an influencer strategy.
Sometimes, objectives tied to influencer marketing campaigns can
feel ambiguous. Usually, brands are looking to gain reach and
visibility with targeted audiences. But it’s not just about
getting in front of those people; it’s about the perception of
your company’s association with the influencers in question.
It’s also about trusted voices delivering messages with expertise
and credibility in a time when buyers are increasingly wary of
advertising and marketing messages. A strong influencer candidate
already has trust equity built up with their (your) audience. They
speak knowledgeably and persuasively on topics that align closely
with your business. They’ve developed a sturdy reputation in
their industry or niche that holds weight with the people who
follow it. It’s a level of credibility that can’t be matched.
Data shows that an
increasing number of B2B buyers trust digital content from
, more so than content from the brand itself.
According to the
2019 Edelman Trust Barometer
, the three most trusted voices are
“company technical experts,” “academic experts,” and “a
person like yourself.” All three represent common influencer
profiles.   Edelman Trust Graphic In large
part, this resonance owes to relatability, which brings us to our
next point: engaging the wrong influencers can be detrimental to
what we’re trying to achieve. How NOT to Build Trust with
Influencer Marketing The caveat here is that if you don’t do it
right, influencer marketing can actually diminish trust with your
audience. So before we dive into practical examples of
trust-building influencer engagements, let’s outline a few things
to avoid. Don’t Prioritize Quantity Over Quality It’s
one of the most prevalent pitfalls in the influencer marketing
universe: “This person has a huge following! Let’s partner with
‘em!” In fact, research from Influencer Marketing Hub for the

2019 Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report
actually found that
larger followings, on average, correlate with lower ROI. The same
report shows that 48% of brands are smartly treating audience
relationship as the most valuable factor in working with
influencers, higher than any other benefit. And while this isn’t
always true, influencers with smaller (not tiny) followings can
often foster more tightly knit communities, with more meaningful
bonds. Don’t look strictly at popularity when selecting
influencers. As our CEO Lee
has written: “Relevance, resonance and reach metrics
should be used for
influencer identification and validation
.” [bctt
tweet=”Relevance, resonance and reach metrics should be used for
influencer identification and validation. – @leeodden”
username=”toprank”] Don’t Try to Buy Trust Equity
Influencers should always feel like their efforts in a brand
partnership are worthwhile. Sometimes, it makes sense to compensate
them financially, but the most fruitful deployments of this
strategy tend to take shape when both sides are invested beyond a
simple money exchange. “The real goal should be to develop
mutually beneficial relationships with experts to co-create content
that works for your audience, their audience and your mutual
audience to build credibility,” writes TopRank Marketing Senior
Director of Digital Strategy Ashley Zeckman. Internet users
are becoming smarter in general. If the extent of your motivation
is to simply to associate your brand name with Instagram
celebrities in a pay-to-play scenario (I’m looking at you,

Fyre Festival
), it’ll be transparent to your audience, and is
likely to do more harm than good. Creating a mutually beneficial
scenario, as Ashley referenced, means that influencers see
incentive in growing their own personal brands by partnering with
yours. Establishing this dynamic is key to genuine and lasting
influencer relationships. Create Something Valuable So,
you’ve recruited an influencer to join your cause. Great! Now
what are you going to do together? Too often, it seems like this is
a secondary concern when it should be a foremost priority. We
consistently find that the most effective influencer marketing
programs involve co-creation of content, where the expert
perspectives lend tangible value to something your audience wants.
Given the knowledge and authority held by niche influencers, this
can greatly enhance the
credibility of your best-answer content
, which
also supports SEO efforts
. If you want to see what this looks
like, I invite you to peruse some of the examples below. Examples
of Trust-Building Influencer Engagements in Action Trust is
difficult to measure. But when you’re building it successfully,
the impact tends to ripple outward into other metrics, like earned
media value, prospect quality, and positive brand mentions. Here
are a few campaigns that delivered results thanks, in large part,
to an infusion of influencer content.   SAP SuccessFactors
Focus is an important aspect of any well conceived influencer
content campaign. You want to address a direct pain point for your
customers in a substantive way. SAP SuccessFactors, a provider of
cloud-based human resource management software, wanted to zero in
on employee health and well-being. In partnership with our team at
TopRank Marketing, SAP SuccessFactors created an eBook featuring
unique insights from respected executives and leaders in the human
resources space. One contributor, Chris Paine, even has “Chief
HR Geek” for a title. SuccessFactors Well-Being eBook
collaborative influencer marketing campaign
surpassed download
benchmarks by 272%, and most pertinently, organic social messaging
(via SAP and influencers) drove 69% of conversions.   Cisco
Champions This program exemplifies an influencer ecosystem that
is driven by mutual benefit. Through its
Cisco Champions
community, the company nurtures a collection of
brand enthusiasts who are also industry experts and active social
media participants. By participating, these influencers are able to
grow their own personal brands (while tethering themselves to the
biggest player
in enterprise networking”), and they also get
special access to groups, training, and new products. Cisco Champions Community “The
program reaches a diverse audience and allows Cisco to earn the
trust of the IT community with authentic and relevant content. Our
community views the information as ‘for us, by us,’ ”
according to Cisco’s social media marketing manager Linda
Hamilton (via
). That is precisely the outcome any similar
initiative should aim for. Prophix For this
highly successful influencer program
, Prophix tapped TopRank
Marketing to help showcase powerful influencer content in action.
The series of Pro
interview clips align with Prophix’s model as a
provider of finance software, offering practical guidance for
delivering finance presentations. The angle of the topic meant that
this content was oriented directly toward CFOs and other business
leaders that Prophix most wanted to reach, while also helping
industry leaders showcase their expertise in an impactful way to
grow their own influence. Prophix ProTalks Presenting
insights through video, with the speaker talking directly into the
camera, helps enhance the trust-building qualities by simulating a
face-to-face conversation with subject matter experts who embody
the “trusted advisor” persona. Supported by a mix of blog,
social, and paid promotion, this campaign drove big results. An
impressive 42% of viewers completed each video (7-to-9 minutes in
length) and conversions exceeded the benchmark by 200%. Prophix
captured multiple enterprise-level CFO leads. Trust in Influencer
Marketing Even if trust is tough to measure, marketers are clearly
seeing the value in influencer content, and trust is a key (if
subtle) component of that. In the aforementioned State of
Influencer Marketing report from IMH, 92% of respondents said they
believe the tactic is effective and 86% plan to dedicate budget to
influencer marketing activities this year. These are further
reasons to trust in influencer marketing, but I’d argue that the
No. 1 driver should be the trust these strategic collaborators can
imbue into your brand. By choosing the right influencers, creating
mutually advantageous programs, and jointly creating content that
serves your audience, you’ll be on your way to earning the kind
of trust that simply cannot be bought. Want to learn more
about TopRank Marketing delivers trusted influencer marketing
solutions for B2B companies? Check out our influencer
marketing service page

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Trust Factors: The (In)Credible Impact of B2B Influencer
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