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News and Analysis

Influencer marketing for B2B companies

B2B businesses are pivoting towards influencer marketing, embracing its ability to amplify brand messaging to niche audiences. At the CMO Inflect 2018 conference, panelists discussed how to use influencers in the B2B space, and made a convincing case for their legitimacy as a marketing tool.

Though B2B influencers are not often thought of as the stereotypical influencer, they are by no means a new trend. SAP uses tech influencers as thought leaders, leveraging their authority among their followers to speak on behalf of their new products. By using authors, business people, and academics, SAP executes a successful influencer strategy in a crowded B2B market.

The Julius View

B2B advertising is inherently different from B2C, and thus the way influencers are used to promote a product should be different as well. It’s less likely that a business or its representatives will click a link in an Instagram bio, or watch a vlog about a B2B product. Reaching these audiences requires a different approach, which many of the panelists discussed above alluded to.

There is often a debate about whether influencer marketing should be outsourced or done in-house – many businesses are inclined to outsource, given the challenges and investment associated with learning a relatively new form of advertising. Finding and vetting influencers, contacting them and writing contracts, tracking metrics and analyzing data: it’s a lot to take on without a good infrastructure. For a B2B business, wherein their advertising targets clients, not consumers, that’s valuable time spent.

Margaret Molloy is an example of a high-profile B2B influencer

With tools like Julius, that time can be considerably condensed to the point of being negligible. That the industry has produced such a robust infrastructure of tools to remove barriers to entry speaks to its effectiveness as a strategy. Thus, the decision to outsource becomes a matter of organizational preference, rather than budgetary concern. For B2B, mitigating the guesswork with a new strategy removes a considerable amount of risk. And when companies like SAP boast of its effectiveness, there’s not much to lose.


Suing influencers is a sign of a healthy industry

We’ve talked a lot about contracting influencers and how important it is for your bottom-line, but what happens when an influencer doesn’t deliver? The Ringer recently published an article detailing the story of Luka Sabbat, an influencer who was contracted by Snapchat to advertise their Snapchat Spectacles during Fashion Week this past September. Sabbat allegedly failed to deliver his end of the contract despite accepting a $45,000 cash advance.

In August of last year, YouTuber Bethany Mota was sued for breaching her $325,000 contract, after she allegedly “failed to include the Kauai footage in the YouTube video and deliver the posts as promised.” It’s important to note that neither influencer lost any significant ground after their respective lawsuits. Their follower counts still grew, and they both continue to take on brand sponsorships. After the punishment was levied, their careers resumed.


Luka Sabbat's followers have steadily grown in spite of his pending lawsuit

The Julius View

That brands are taking it upon themselves to hold influencers accountable is a good sign of a healthy, growing industry. Mitigating fraud and prosecuting breaches of contract are foundational pillars for the industry’s infrastructure, ensuring that influencers act in good faith. A legal framework for remedying contract disputes between influencers and brands will stabilize the industry’s growth and safeguard its longevity.

New industries inevitably face growing pains like these. Though the process of smoothing out the kinks is slow, it is necessary for influencer marketing’s survival. That being said, it’s neither likely nor responsible to expect brands to get lawsuit happy with influencers. There is a big difference between forgetting to send a tweet and deliberately breaching a contract. It’s vital to remember that influencers are people first – mistakes can happen. Setting the stakes of doing business too high will disincentivize new influencers from taking sponsorships, much like shrugging off fraud will perpetuate the problem.

Establishing legal precedents for influencer contract disputes are a positive outcome for influencer accountability. Brands and agencies should read these stories and feel safe knowing their bottom-line can be protected. Influencers, on the other hand, should know that as long as they fulfill their end of the bargain, they’re in the clear – a lawsuit isn’t necessarily the end of the road.


Facebook is getting by with a little help from its brands

Facebook has been the lead scapegoat for issues surrounding internet privacy rights for quite some time now. The prolific social media platform has been embroiled in near non-stop scandals, from the Cambridge Analytica leaks to CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s appearances before Congress. Concerns that they sold data and revealed private messages to services like Spotify and Netflix, are among many allegations levied their way. Facebook’s user base has declined, its public perception has suffered, and its stock price has dropped.

But it’s not all doom and gloom: according to Digiday, top marketers are standing by Facebook as they attempt to right the ship. Advertisers are still spending money on the platform because they still see positive returns. Meanwhile, Facebook continues to update its advertising capabilities, creating better algorithms for post visibility and updating guidelines for community behavior.

The Julius View:

Having embedded itself in paid marketing strategy over the last decade, Facebook continues to be important in digital advertising budgets. Though there are fewer Facebook-only influencers than in the past, it is still a useful channel for influencer marketing, depending on the target demographic.

The company is big enough to survive in spite of its scandals, and because their issues are mostly privacy related, marketers will still spend their money there, so long as there are returns. Facebook can only improve its privacy perception from this point, and although there’s no telling whether the users who left will return, the platform still has plenty of loyal users, many of whom are active on a daily basis.

Facebook is unequivocally the best of the popular social media platforms at connecting people – its messaging functions, photo, and video sharing capabilities, and search functions are top-of-the-line. So long as advertisers continue to spend and Facebook continues to make improvements to its platform, survival is all but guaranteed.


What’s trending this week?

“The Rise of the Nano-Influencer: How Brands Are Turning to Common People” - Via The Guardian

“5 things we learned about GDPR in 2018” - Via Digiday

“The 2-Year-Old Instagram Influencers Who Make More Than You” - Via Fast Company

“The Making of a Computer-Generated Influencer” - Via The Wall Street Journal


We Here at Julius Would Like to Wish You Happy Holidays!

Thanks for reading our Weekly Roundup series! This will be the last one for 2018, so we’d like to end it with warm wishes for the holiday season. See you next year!

That's all for this week, thanks for reading. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn for more influencer marketing news, analysis, and interesting content.