If your mental image of influencer marketing is a social media ad of a famous model holding a bottle of branded sunscreen above a CTA banner that says "Buy now," you might want to rework your perceptions.

"We may need to think a little bit outside the box of what kinds of influencers there are," says Agorapulse's Mike Allton in this episode of the Marketing Smarts Live Show.

"Influencer marketing is essentially word-of-mouth; it's essentially the establishment of trust and authority on behalf of your brand through somebody else, and every business can benefit from that."

In the B2B business world, traditional B2C influencers such as models and celebrities aren't necessarily effective. Businesses have to be much more targeted with their audience and choose influencers accordingly.

"Nano and micro influencers are smaller influencers, they have smaller audiences, but they're hypertargeted and focused," Mike explains. "They are talking to CMOs in fintech (for example). They're really laser-focused on a specific vertical or a tier that you're trying to reach."

Watch the entire episode for a host of insights on influencer marketing: 

Don't miss any future episodes: Subscribe to the Marketing Smarts Live Show on YouTube. And to catch up on all previous episodes, check out the full playlist on YouTube.

Episode Details, Guest Information, and Referenced Links

Episode No. 40

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Full Transcript | Marketing Smarts Live Show Episode 40 | B2B Influencer Marketing—The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

This rough transcript is machine-generated. It's been only minimally edited by humans.

George B. Thomas: Let's go ahead, because today we're talking about the good, the bad, and the ugly of influencer marketing. And that is with Mike Alton. Let me know where you're actually watching from, what platform you're tuning in from, cuz we'd love to hear it.

Welcome to The Marketing Smarts live show by MarketingProfs and The Marketing Smarts podcast, where we dive into B2B news, resources, valuable guest content, and much more each and every week. If you're a B2B marketer looking for a place to learn, keep up to date, and have some fun along the way, well grab a beverage, a notepad, or at least some style of a writing utensil. And welcome to the show.

If your mental image of influencer marketing is a social media ad of a famous model, holding a bottle of branded sunscreen above a CTA banner, by now you might want to rework or rethink your perceptions. In the B2B business world, traditional B2C influencers such as models and celebrities aren't necessarily effective. Businesses must be more targeted with their audience and choose influencers accordingly. At least that's what Mike Alton said in our original podcast episode. This and so much more on today's episode.

Hello to all my Marketing Smarts Live viewers. Today I'm super excited to bring you episode 40 of The Marketing Smarts Live Show. This week's topic is all about B2B influencer marketing, the good, the bad, and the ugly. So if you're ready to get your learn on buckle up, let's get ready and rock and roll. I'm your boy George B. Thomas, speaker trainer, catalyst, and the host of this here show The Marketing Smarts live show, as well as the Marketing Smarts podcast found on your favorite podcast app.

Our guest clips today are brought to you by none other than the man, the myth, the legend, Mr. Mike Alton. Now, Mike Alton is an international keynote speaker and award-winning consultant and author at the Agorapulse where he has been educating businesses and organizations on the best use of social media and content marketing for reaching and converting target audiences. He has spent over a decade in digital marketing and brings an unparalleled level of experience and excitement to the, to, uh, wherever he's delivering a presentation or leading a workshop.

Since 2012, Mike has excelled at helping his community understand the nuance and best practices involved in utilizing social PR platforms, leveraging social media management tools, and creating 10x content. Mike also serves as the head of strategic partnership at Agorapulse, where he strengthens relationships with social media educators, influencers, and partner brands. Agorapulse is, if you didn't know, a robust social media management tool favored by agencies and social media influencers around the world featuring support for all major platforms and a host of scheduling options of Agorapulse is designed to help managers save time. Mike Alton is also the co-author of The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Marketing alongside Jen Herman, Stephanie Lou, Amanda Robinson, and Eric Batal, available wherever books are sold. Do you still get books? I still get books. I like books. Now remember, the clips of Mike Alton today are pulled from the full Marketing Smarts podcast episode.

And if you want to listen to the full interview with Mike Alton and myself, make sure to tune into the Marketing Smarts podcast. Link to the full show will be in the description below after the live show ends. And of course, you know it's on your favorite podcast app as well. Now, in this episode, again, I'm talking with Mike. We're talking B2B influencer marketing, good, bad, ugly, all sorts of fun things.

Now, the first thing I wanted to do was understand what types of companies are a good fit to leverage influencer marketing for their products and services. So I asked Mike that simple question, what types of companies are best suited for influencer marketing? And this is what Mike had to say.

Mike Allton: Influencer marketing is a hundred percent for every single business on the planet. Doesn't matter what you are. We may need to think a little bit outside the box of what kinds of influencers there are and who it is that you're gonna tap. But here's the thing, influencer marketing is essentially word of mouth. It's essentially the establishment of trust and authority on behalf of your brand through somebody else. And every bit of business can benefit from that.

Now, you might be a small local mom and pop shop. Okay, that's great. Let's find a local influencer that you can work with. Maybe it's the president of the local Chamber of Commerce. Maybe it's another organization. You know, maybe it's another business that you could partner with and treat each other like influencers, cuz you both have existing audiences. Doesn't have to be huge Twitter profiles or Instagram profiles or TikTok profiles with millions of followers. Yes, that's influence, but that's not the only kind of influence.

Influence is when we are talking to another audience, maybe it's actual in person, face-to-face talking and we're able to tell them, Hey, I understand you. I know the kinds of problems you're having and it just so happens that I know George over here has some really, really good solutions for you. Let's talk to George.

George B. Thomas: 100% for every business on the planet. Did you hear these words though? Word of mouth, trust, authority, every business can see some impact from those three words. Now, don't think of the word influencer as a huge profile with millions of followers. Do you have a local influencer that pops into your head? Or a different thought on what the world, uh, what the word influencer might mean? Put the answer to that in the chat pane and let me know on Twitter using the hashtag #mpB2B and of course, tag me using at George B. Thomas.

Now we'll get back to Mike Alton and his thoughts on B2B influencer marketing, the good, bad, and ugly. But first I have to ask, are you part of the MarketingProfs community? If not, become part of the MarketingProfs community by heading over to mprofs.com/mp today.

Now it's time for one of my favorite sections In the B2B News, where we talk about breaking B2B news or really important tips we find on the Google News tab related to you and your B2B business this week. The title is Five Levers of a Successful B2B Influencer marketing strategy From Click Z. See what I did there? I'm trying to tie it all together for you. In this article, you will start to understand the value add for your brand and learn practical tips to design a campaign by identifying and engaging influencers for long-term success. See how influencers can add a layer of trust and authenticity to your brand, especially in industries like healthcare, finance, and insurance. Of course, we just heard from Mike, it goes way beyond that. But also learn why it is important to identify the right influencers and align with their core values. These practical tips will help you collaborate with influencers and build a structured approach that creates measurable expectations and allows for creative freedom to read this article. Check out the link below when the live show ends. That's right, all the right links in all the right places at just the right time.

So let's return to Mike Alton and his Marketing Smarts podcast episode. The next conversation I wanted to have with Mike was all about what might trip you and your organization up. Meaning what hurdles should you watch out for? So I asked Mike the straightforward question of, Hey, what are some hurdles you've seen B2B marketers run into when trying to start using influencer marketing in their organization? And he's got some words for that.

Mike Allton: What we're gonna want to do is first of all, be patient. Brands who rush into influencer marketing, they start to make a series of potential mistakes. The first thing they'll often do is they might listen to me and say, okay, Mike told me to develop relationships. So I'm gonna do that. I'll find a couple influencers and I'll start following them and I'll start courting them and I'll build that relationship with them. Okay? The thing is, you don't know how long those are gonna take. And like any blind date, you don't know where it's going to go. Somebody that you reached out to today might be the most amazing brand ambassador for tomorrow, but you don't know who at first.

So we wanna be patient up front, not only with the relationship but be patient with how we're developing the number of influencers. In other words, you're going to want to reach out to more than one or two different individual influencers and start to develop those relationships across the broad spectrum.

That leads to the second mistake. Brands who are in too big of a hurry, they don't take the time to vet their influencers. And this is one of those things, again, that's getting easier as we go because technology is starting to really catch up to our needs as businesses. If I'm looking at somebody on Twitter and I want to really suss out what the tone and temper of their tweets have been, have they said something on Twitter that would've been really offensive to my target audience? And here's a good rule of thumb, if you're looking at an influencer and they're talking to their target audience, if you substitute your brand's logo and name in for their headshot and name, would you still be comfortable with what it is that they're saying? Would your audience be okay with it? And I don't mean left, right... I mean it doesn't matter. Just the point is, does it align with your brand values? You have to know what your brand values are first, and then you have to start to apply them to the influencers you're vetting.

And that can take some time, particularly again, if it's someone like a Twitter influencer where they've been tweeting 20 times a day for like their entire life, they've got a mountain of content. So that takes some time. It takes some time and it takes some personal touch, right? I can't farm that out to a VA and expect any kind of real understanding of what it's I'm looking for as a representative of the brand. I'm the one who's gotta sit down and pay attention to what each influencer is talking about online, how they're working with their audience. Are they ignoring the comments on their posts, or are they engaging with their target audience and having a fun, fruitful conversation? That's what I call brand fit.

And that's an important consideration that again, if they're in a rush, they're gonna skip right past that and just go straight into that. Hey, I kind of liked what you were talking about. It looks like you've got a decent sized audience. Can I pay you to tweet? We don't wanna do that.

George B. Thomas: Woo, can I pay you to tweet? We don't want to do that. Did you hear the words, the wise words of Mike? Be patient. Don't rush into your influencer marketing relationships. Or should I say good relationships? Take time. Reach out to several folks to start building relationships versus putting all your eggs in one basket. And by all that is holy vet your influencers. Watch for the red. And may I even say yellow flags? Did we mention it? All? Takes time, ladies and gentlemen.

Well, we'll get back to Mike Alton in a few minutes. But first, it's time for some dope B2B learnings from the vault of MarketingProfs articles. That's right, it's time to dig into the treasure trove of valuable information and pull out two pieces of gold to help you be a better B2B marketer.

Article number one this week is Influencer Marketing Isn't Broken, You're Just Doing It Wrong by Brendan Latrell. You may have seen or heard about Dig Today's Confessions q&a with a social media exec on the rocky relationship between influencers and brand. For many, that confessional sounds all too familiar. Getting started with influencer marketing can be frustrating, and many brand marketers don't know how or where to begin. Although word of mouth marketing is nothing new, digital influencer marketing is, and all parties involved have a lot to learn about it still. However, for this nameless social media executive to say, influencer marketing is fizzling out, well, that couldn't be further from the truth. Wanna learn more? The link's in the description below.

Article number two this week: Three Tips for Building Internal Support for Influencer Marketing by Todd Cameron. Influencer marketing has been around for a few years, but with the current level of media coverage and discussion around it, it is fair to say it marks its growth inflection point. No longer are marketers asking, "What's influencer marketing?" today. Many are asking, Should we develop an influencer marketing channel? Or how much effort and budget should we be putting behind it this year? Embracing something new, regardless of how adventurous it might be, is difficult. It's change. And change in an organization is rarely a simple or efficient process.

Yes, yes, indeed. Do want to keep learning more? If so, check out the links in the description below after the live show to get access to both amazing marketing props articles. All right, back to Mike Alton. Let's dive back into this conversation of B2B influencer marketing, the good, bad, and the ugly.

I want you to know where the bullseye is pertaining to your influencer marketing in the future. But to know where to aim, you need to know what the heck does success look like. So I asked Mike, what does influencer marketing success look like? What should B2B marketers be aiming for? And here is what Mike had to share.

Mike Allton: It's, oh, that's a, this is a great question, because there's a lot that goes into influencer marketing and partnerships. Certainly at the end we wanna see some kind of measurable business result, right? We wanna see leads, sales registrations, whatever it is that you're hoping to accomplish with that influencer. If we wanna see that, it we means we have to have identified it from the beginning. We don't want to start a campaign and not know what our goals are and our metrics. And that means we actually have to have an ability to measure that in place. The last thing you want is to kick off a campaign and then realize, oh crap, we're not using any tracking links. We're not using any UTM parameters. We're not, we don't have anything in place to measure the success of this campaign, because after that's done, your boss is gonna come to you and ask you where their $10,000 went, and you're gonna struggle to show them.

So you want to have those metrics in place. But here's the fun thing with influencer marketing, and I tell people this all the time. That goal, that end goal of success, that metric, that's just the tip of the iceberg, is hopefully a sizeable tip. And what we want to do is come up with a campaign where that tip of the ice iceberg is sufficient enough to justify that campaign. In other words, the ROI is there, but what you can't measure are things like brand awareness, right? If you are talking about my brand in a podcast, how many people are listening to this podcast and learned a little bit more about Agorapulse, learned a little bit more about Mike Alton? I can't measure that. I don't know. Yeah, we could look at the downloads and that sort of thing, but if you're looking at multiple channels, multiple influencers, that gets a little cumbersome.

So typically, we kind of just ignore that, but we wanna see it because that leads to multiple touches. That makes my sales team's job easier. I'm creating noise, I'm creating buzz out here in the metaverse and out here in the World Wide Web. And when somebody does need a solution that's been talked about on one of those other channels, and they reach out to my team, you know, there's, there's that knowledge there. There's that comfort level with the brand. And so those are happening.

And of course, there's those other intangibles I mentioned, like when you've got a relationship with an influencer and people come up to them in a community, they come up to 'em on stage. This is one of my favorite things is that I go outta my way to develop relationships with speakers at events in the marketing industry, because they're going to mention, or organically at Agorapulse in their presentations, people are gonna come up to them, they're gonna, they'll be giving a talk about social media strategy, and they won't be mentioning any tools. But invariably, somebody at the end of their talk will raise their hand and say, okay, yeah, but what tools do you use to do everything that you just talked about? And I'm hoping that they say Agorapulse in front of a room with 300 people. That's impactful. I can't measure that, but I know it's helpful.

George B. Thomas: Mike says he can't measure that, but he knows that it's helpful. But here's the thing earlier in that he says, measurable ROI. And I say, yes, yes, yes. No matter if it's leads, sales, or registrations for events, you need to know your goals before you start a campaign and know how you're going to measure it. But also, did you hear that there should be more of that, that you can't measure brand awareness, creating multiple touches that you guys are everywhere, mentality. Comfort with your brand. Those things aren't measurable, but they are really important.

We'll get some words of wisdom from Mike Alton here in a few minutes, but right now it's time, ladies and gentlemen, to turn the spotlight on you, the MarketingProfs community. Yep. Time for from the #mpB2B community. We searched far and wide in the #mpB2B universe to find amazing information and conversations to bring to you the masses.

So first, make sure you're using the hashtag, and second, make sure you have fun and add value to the community along the way. Then we'll spotlight you or your crew. On the show this week, it's Bri Kranz, marketing professional, aspiring novelist, lovers of words, and cat mom. Listen, here's what she had to say. Marketers so often have to pull teeth to get a budget for training. And even when we get it, sometimes it's just not right or doesn't actually help us improve toward our goals. So what is working right now for B2B marketers? How can marketing individuals take steps to get better training or leaders, better advocate for their teams? Find out in our free state of B2B marketing training report. That's right, the training report, the link for the report and the link to the community spotlight will be in the description below, but #B2BMarketing, #marketing, #marketingtraining, #marketingleaders, #mpB2B. That's how it made it on the show. But you need to check out those links, both of them after this show is over. Okay? Make sure you do that.

Marketing Smarts viewers, I have to ask, are you going to be next to get the spotlight? Remember, community, use the hashtag #mpB2B on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and get the light shined on your awesomeness in the next episode or a future episode of The Marketing Smarts Live Show. Pro tip, it won't hurt if you tag me in the post as well. I'm @GeorgeBThomas on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Okay, let's kick it back to Mike Allton and some words of wisdom around this topic of B2B influencer marketing, good, bad, and ugly. Here is what Mike Allton wanted to leave us with as far as Mike's words of wisdom.

Mike Allton: Treat your influencers the way that you'd want to be treated. Right? And I think it comes easier for me because I've been an influencer. I spent years being an influencer in this space before I was hired by Agorapulse to run our influencer program. So I have a pretty good understanding of the people that I'm working with, what they need, how they prefer to be treated. And so I go outta my way to take care of them, knowing that in all likelihood, at some point in the future, they're gonna take care of me. Now, like any relationship, that may not happen, that may not happen the way I wanted. They may not happen when I wanted, but that's okay. I leave that up to God. As long as I am treating them the way I would want to be treated, then I think it's all gonna work out fine.

George B. Thomas: Treat them like you want to be treated. I could just drop the mic right there. But did you hear the amazing micro tip from Mike: Temper your expectations? Mike said, I know that it might not work out, but I leave that up to God. Now, those are some words of wisdom to live by.

Have you enjoyed today's journey? Let us know. Use that hashtag #mpB2B on whatever platform you're joining us on. It's time, time flies, but it's time. Ladies and gentlemen, head to the description below. Click on the link to the full Marketing Smarts podcast with Mike Allton and keep on learning more about B2B influencer marketing, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Remember, these are just a few clips of the Original Marketing Smarts podcast interview. If you got value from today's show, hit that like and better yet, share it with a friend to keep learning more. Hit subscribe or watch additional MarketingProfs videos on your favorite social channel. Or head over to our YouTube channel if you're not there yet. Or you can go tune into the original Marketing Smarts podcast episode on your favorite podcast app. Don't forget to become part of the MarketingProfs community by heading over to mprofs.com/mp today. That's mprofs.com/mp today.

And as always, remember to be a happy, helpful, humble B2B marketing human. And we'll see you on the next episode of The Marketing Smart Show next week.

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image of George B. Thomas

George B. Thomas is a marketer, video Jedi, and HubSpot certified trainer with 25+ years of sales and marketing experience. George is owner and HubSpot Helper at georgebthomas.com. He has a record-breaking 38 HubSpot sales, marketing, service, CRM, and CMS certifications. George harnesses his expertise in graphic design, Web development, video editing, social media marketing, and inbound marketing to partner with, teach, and develop solutions for companies looking to develop their businesses and increase their revenue.

LinkedIn: George B. Thomas

Twitter: @GeorgeBThomas