The CMO Survey released a special Covid-19 edition recently and it found that social media has become critical to marketing during a pandemic.  The survey reported that social media spending has increased from 13.3% of marketing budgets in February 2020 to 23.2% in June 2020 — a 74% lift. 

Traditional handling of social media has been turned on its head.  Marketing leaders are now grappling with the reality that social media activation is so much bigger than marketing itself.  

It's no longer just about managing the company branded channels on social media.  It's about social media monitoring, leadership activation, influencer engagement and sales involvement.

This article by Forbes struck a chord with me.  One of the 10 recommendations listed for marketing leaders in 2021 was to "Harness the power of influencers and creators".  

B2B marketers aren't new to influencer marketing but with the unexpected and rather accelerated take-up of social media across the organisation, brands need to be more structured and orchestrated when it comes to influencer engagement.

What was once a transactional agreement between influencer and brand is now a much more conversational and less formal engagement between influencer and brand employees.  

This creates a bit of a headache for brand leaders:

  • Who is now leading that influencer relationship on behalf of the brand?
  • Who should be engaging on behalf of the brand with that influencer?
  • Is that influencers network relevant for our business?
  • Should that influencers content be part of our employee advocacy program?
  • How has the strongest relationship with that influencer in our business?

According to research, the allocation of marketing budgets towards influencers is on the rise, up to 7.5% from 6.5% a year ago and expected to rise to 12.7% in the next three years.

A good first step to realising this shift is to think bigger than company executives and leaders.  Too often brands focus on them as the key relationship in influencer marketing.  Sure, they have a role to play but not the only role.

Your technical experts, pre-sales consultants, engineers and developers hold immense credibility with your customers.  Influencers also want to engage with them and it's much more likely to be a reciprocal relationship.  

Experts get to learn from influencers.  Influencers get to learn from experts who are often engaged with customers at the front-line.  

Together with our partner, Onalytica, we've helped to activate many organisations that have redirected paid media spend, advertorial budgets and event budgets towards nurturing these relationships across the business and at scale.  

This long-term approach to fostering influential relationships is a great way to increase brand awareness but only when you engage the right influencers and around the right topic.