B2B vs. B2C influencers – what’s the difference? While the gap has grown smaller, it’s still clear why a brand would work with one over another. However, depending on your brand and audience, it might be in your best interest to work with both a B2B and a B2C influencer for your campaign to magnify each other’s message. Regardless of influencer type, at the end of the day, it’s important to build a connection with the influencer and cultivate a strong and mutually beneficial relationship.
When you’re trying to decide whether to work with a B2B influencer, B2C, or both; you’ll need to be clear on your target audience, campaign goals, product, and/or service sales cycle. On the brand or agency side, the process of outreach, relationship building, and content management is very similar.
B2B vs. B2C influencers: The basics
As the name suggests, B2B influencers speak to businesses and/or decision-makers at these companies as opposed to directly to consumers. But aren’t businesses consumers too? This is where it gets a little tricky. An easy way to distinguish a B2B influencer audience from a B2C influencer audience is that the B2B influencers business audience is responsible for making business decisions and finding business solutions for their company, not directly for themselves. Therefore, the B2B influencer is most often providing information on product or service functionality, benefits, and discussing how it stacks up to their competitors in a highly technical lens. These products or services aren’t usually available to the every day consumer.
The B2C influencer, on the other hand, speaks directly to the consumer in less of a technical lens. While they still point out technical functionality (think about a Clarisonic toothbrush commercial), it is more focused on memorable benefits, look and feel, and most importantly the emotional aspect of marketing. The B2C influencer might make mention of the teeth whitening effects or how many pulses a minute the brush can generate, but they are mostly focused on the “feeling” of using this brush and the lifestyle of those who use this product. Because a B2C influencer is speaking directly to the consumer, using emotional appeal and visually appealing imagery is very important.
The sales cycle
Another very important distinguishing factor between these influencer types to keep in mind is the product sales cycle. One of our resident influencers here at Social Tribe, Keith Townsend, spoke with our CEO Megan Conley at the recent Ignite B2B Marketing Conference about this important distinction. Keith pointed out that B2C sales cycles tend to be much shorter, so the influencer strategy and setup have a shorter timeline and must be executed very quickly to meet product promotion cycles. B2B influencer sales cycles tend to be much longer due to a longer period of time between product launches as well as the highly technical acumen needed by the influencers for the program. This translates to more rigorous qualifications being applied to the influencer during the discovery and vetting phase and more time needed to find the right fit influencer partners as well.
While it’s important to understand the key differences between these influencer types, it’s equally important to understand that they can be used together to magnify each other’s efforts. Combining their strengths in the right way can make for an extremely creative and successful campaign. For example, both influencer types can be used in combination for a B2B product such as a software that would be purchased to enhance the consumer experience. In this situation, a B2B influencer can speak to the technical benefits of a product while a B2C influencer speaks about their consumer experience. Adding a B2C influencer to help promote a traditionally B2B-focused product is a great way to increase brand awareness and reach new audiences.
Maintain a sharp focus
I’ll leave you with another very important piece of advice that is continuing to grow in popularity with B2B and B2C Influencers. Influencers, regardless of their focus in B2B or B2C, are gaining and maintaining the trust of their audiences the more they focus on a specific niche or subtopic. There might be 1,000 B2C beauty influencers, but the ones that retain high engagement and grow steadily are the ones that choose a specific niche within beauty – such as clean beauty products or strictly focusing on skincare.
If you can think of a niche, there’s an audience for it. Audiences today expect and respond to being spoken to directly and don’t want to feel like just another number. Let’s take a look at this example in the B2B world. There might be 5,000 tech influencers, but when this same tech influencer chooses to focus on tech products that are using artificial intelligence to provide their users insights, this influencer can stand out amongst their peers and establish themselves as an authority in that specific field. When you’re choosing to work with influencers and want strong engagement or lead generation, narrowing in on an influencer in a specific niche can supercharge your ROI!
There are many ways to create innovative campaigns with the help of B2B and B2C influencers. As previously mentioned, it’s important to define your goals, target audience, messaging, product/service type early on to figure out how each will benefit your campaign separately or together. If you’d like to talk about how Social Tribe can ease the lift for your next influencer marketing campaign, make sure and reach out to our team.