Top 3 Tools for B2B Influencer Marketing
In my first post about B2B Influencer Marketing for CMS-Connected, I dove into what tools are available for both hands on and strategic B2B marketers to use for finding and utilizing influencers. A great deal of the information I came across in my search and discussions with software sales team members actually reminded me that one of the most important tools in the B2B influencer marketing arsenal has less to do with the ability to process raw digital data and more to do with the skillset required to utilize and transform that data into actual real results.
The Content Marketer
Several blogs I have read on the topic of B2B influencer marketing mention how great certain software are for saving time. What I might ask these bloggers is: “Just what is MORE important than connecting with customers when it comes to content marketing”? What we should be thinking about saving is not time, but our social reputation – which is maintained by authoritative and relevant engagement. Gone are the days when doing the “social media” was a task saved for the intern, and I must say the same about leaving your social engagement to a software tool. Best practices in content marketing, or really any successful marketing now, call for a real person at the other end of the Tweet; someone who is as much invested in their customers and what their customers are interested in as they are in the sale. The content marketer is ultimately the top tool in finding and nurturing influencers – software is, of course, necessary and can help but it should never be a substitute for real human interaction.
I have used some very expensive tools and some not-so-expensive tools for social media, and what I have found is good old Twitter pretty much has you covered when you want to learn about your audience, engage with them and monitor if your efforts are working. While LinkedIn has taken away the ability to monitor the response of posts in LinkedIn groups, which used to be a very valuable tool for B2B content marketers, Twitter has consistently remained a valuable tool for B2B marketers over the past several years. The simple plugging in of a hashtag or keyword will give you volumes of information – from who the influencers are in that industry to what today’s breaking news is on the topic – something Google alerts or your inbox full of newsletters may miss – and that same hashtag will let you see what your content marketing competitors are up to as well. The only thing you really can’t do in Twitter is set up future posts which can easily be taken care of by a tool such as Hootsuite. More and more we are finding that setting up future Twitter posts is not necessarily the best way to do marketing, and there are some famously documented marketing fails on this point so essentially using Twitter - not any elaborate or expensive tools - may be the way to go, especially for smaller scale B2B marketing.
After doing some online research into tools that promoted themselves as valuable for influencer marketing I came up with this list: Izea, The 7th chamber, Evolve, Mediakix, Readypulse, Socialtoaster, Reachr, Augure, Ambassador, GroupHigh, Tapinfluence, Little Bird, and Terakeet. After checking out the website and online reviews of the first nine, I came to the conclusion that they would not have the potential for B2B. The last four, however: GroupHigh, Tapinfluence, Little Bird, and Terakeet each merited a conversation with a sales team member.
GroupHigh and Tapinfluence were very transparent about being primarily B2C, however in fear that potentially my ideal tool does not exist, I did speak with them and think there could be some potential - perhaps if you use Tapinfluence in partnership with an agency. Like most of the tools on my list, their focus is on blogging and bloggers.
I was intrigued enough to get to the level of the demo with both Little Bird and Terakeet. To put it simply, Terakeet finds and contacts bloggers to spread the word about your product and/or content. I was absolutely impressed with the Terakeet’s team members’ outside the box strategic thinking; they explained one particular cross promotion they used to promote a product using influencers which I found quite creative. However, when push came to shove and they tested their tool using a topic I had given them, I found their results to be lacking – at least for the audience I was looking to attract. Their software is impressive, and they manage the recruitment of the influencer bloggers in house, however, Terakeet was not suited to my particular audience. I asked the question: “Well you have all these bloggers - how do you vet which ones are more important than others?” And I never quite got an answer. Their strategy seems to be more about volume than the quality of content, which again may be great for consumer or even some B2B marketing, just not what I was looking for. Putting out information on the wrong blogs may not only be a waste of time it could absolutely be a misstep on marketing to a say sophisticated audience of PhDs, for example.
Little Bird does not work with bloggers; it works - kind of like a Klout but in my opinion much better - to find influencers on Twitter. I highly recommend Little Bird for B2B influencer marketing. Little Bird’s software created, before my eyes, what had taken me three weeks to do for one particular topic area. It honed in on just the right influencers – for a very sophisticated topic I will add - and gave me a great deal of information on each one. Pretty much all of the other information and analytics that their tool offered was relevant as well. For B2B industries where you have a new content marketer who doesn’t know much about the industry, I can see Little Bird as an invaluable tool. The one issue I had was when I signed up for a demo to use after the official demo with the sales team member, the tool crashed. The salesperson apologized later for the glitch. It didn’t change my opinion about its potential – that is still clear - but as a marketer with very little time to waste, it did give me pause.
A note to marketing directors and CMOs out there - Little Bird won’t do the marketing for your team. It’s a portion of what a B2B content marketer needs in their toolkit to be successful. It’s the first tool I have come across that successfully did in moments what I did in three weeks, however, if you want to save the $700 or so odd dollars, just as I did, you can get the same result by spending three weeks diving into Twitter and reading thousands of profiles, and following hundreds of hashtag leads. And honestly, depending on who your audience is, I don’t see this as wasted time since you are essentially learning more about your audience on the way, often in very valuable ways.
My Wishlist for Influencer Marketing
In my ideal world, LinkedIn groups have their analytics back so I can monitor my efforts there, and either LinkedIn or some other software tool will give me the ability to search for influencers there as easily as I can on Twitter. It would be great if a software like Little Bird would allow me to post directly in the tool, and schedule Tweets as well as schedule and monitor all of the other social media channels I use too. For now, us B2B content marketers will have to be satisfied with a limited arsenal of tools compared to what our B2C marketing colleagues possess. If you know a great B2B influencer marketing tool that I have missed here – and I hope you do - feel free to Tweet @leah_kinthaert and let me know!