Connor Stewart is director of social media at mdg, the nation’s leading marketing and public relations agency specializing in audience acquisition for live and online events.
Influencer-Driven B2B Event Attendance: A How-To
Influencers. They’re only helpful for B2C marketers, right? Not quite. While influencer marketing is an oft-used tactic for companies selling a consumer product or lifestyle, it can also be highly effective for event marketers in the B2B space.
Fortunately, many of the industries or professions our events serve are full of qualified influencers, many of whom are easily accessible and under our own trade show’s roof. Event organizers who effectively leverage influencer marketing can expect amplified reach and trust in campaign messaging, ultimately acquiring net-new attendees. Here are four ways you can begin event marketing that optimizes the power of influencers.
1. Identify existing and prospective influencers.
Many events have an impressive roster of untapped influencers in their network, but they’ve gone unnoticed because the term “influencer” is commonly misunderstood. Ultimately, an influencer is someone with the ability to relate to and influence the behaviors of an audience. As such, B2B event influencers will be less flashy and more niche than the Kardashians and celebrities alike who were part of the infamous Fyre Festival influencer campaign. That’s great news for a number of reasons, a big one being that influencers for the B2B events industry very rarely require the $500K spend associated with celebrity-level influencers commonly seen in the B2C space.
So who are you looking for? Micro-influencers, many of whom already have a tie to your event. In addition to well-followed social media content creators, look at your existing networks to identify prominent attendee loyalists, employee advocates and event speakers who can relate to and have proven credibility within the industry your event serves.
2. Invest in the proper tools.
Leveraging your current networks of influence or identifying and fostering new influencer relationships can be time-consuming for any of the micro-influencer groups mentioned above. Invest in the tools below to keep your influencer campaigns efficient and data-oriented, or consider partnering with an agency that can leverage the following tools for you at the fraction of their costs:
- Community marketing: Created specifically for the events industry, community marketing tools can integrate into your registration flow, giving your loyalist attendee, event speaker and exhibitor registrants the ability to customize and promote their event attendance on your behalf to their websites, social media, email network and more.
- Employee advocacy: Employee advocates drive loyalty, amplify visibility, increase lead quality, boost web traffic and encourage engagement—particularly on LinkedIn for the B2B events industry. Employee advocacy tools can amplify your organization’s campaign messages by developing easy-to-share brand content as well as empowering programs that reward internal staff acting as brand advocates and social sellers.
- Influencer relationship management: While your event’s media registration archives may shine a light on previous content creator attendees who are worth exploring, influencer relationship management (IRM) platforms will help you find new content creators using unique search terms such as profile or content keywords, location, follower demographics, hashtags, brand partnerships and more. Many IRMs offer robust analytic features that can help B2B event marketers vet, manage and efficiently report on the value of content creator relationships.
3. Maximize influencer ROI.
Content creators will help your campaign messaging reach new audiences with their high-reach social media networks, while employee advocates, event speakers and attendee loyalists are likely to do the same on LinkedIn. But it doesn’t stop there. Events that confine their influencer marketing efforts to organic social media miss out on influencer ROI.
Influencer-created content and testimonials should be integrated and treated as social proof amplifiers across your omnichannel attendee acquisition campaign, including your website, press releases, emails, display ads, social media ads and more.
4. Track and analyze performance.
To monitor ROI on individual influencers and on the overall campaign, be sure that each individual influencer group is provided with an Urchin Tracking Module tracking link, and use an IRM platform (like Klear) to aggregate content creator engagement metrics and campaign hashtag usage. Analyze these metrics to determine which influencer partnerships you should maintain for the short-term and which high performers should be fostered for the long-term.