New Influencer50 White Paper: ‘Where’s the evidence for investing in B2B ‘social influencers’?’

HomepageBanner.WP#19Influencer50 has issued the latest in its series of White Papers this week, WP#19, ‘Where’s the evidence for investing in B2B ‘social influencers’?’. It asks why Heads of Marketing in B2B organisations are still believing that social media outreach will reach those people most influencing their sales prospects, when there’s little to no supporting evidence.

It quotes recent research from the American Marketing Association, Neilsen Online, ad agency RSW/US and Influencer50 itself to question the logic of assuming ‘social influencers’ are a legitimate target audience. It may not be what many of those in marketing roles want to hear right now – but it’s a compelling argument.

Available for download at:


ActiveInfluence publishes two papers on ‘Understanding the Influencer Market’

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 10.21.59 AMTwo interesting papers were published this week on the subject of ‘Understanding the Influencer Market’. Both are fairly technical breakdowns involving topics like market segmentation, product / market fit and influencer / deployment maps. Very logical and makes plenty of sense. A way better intro to the world of B2B influencers than the ‘social influence’ peddlers.

Paper 1 is titled ‘Taking a Marketing Approach’ and Paper 2 ‘Selecting Industry Analysts’, written by my good friend Richard East at ActiveInfluence in the UK. Richard used to co-run in-house analyst relations at IBM’s EMEA Software Group so what he writes is well worth a read. Available for download at:

Are vendors even looking for the connection between ‘social’ and ‘influence’?

In preparation for an upcoming White Paper this week I’ve been speaking with three B2B marketing directors, two based in the U.S., the third in mainland Europe. I’ve been asking why they continue to invest in social outreach when there’s so little evidence that B2B buyers are being influenced by social media.

The first is a VP, Marketing for a mid-size web hosting provider in North Carolina. “It’s less a case of proving our social outreach is working, and more a case that we’ve proved previous approaches don’t! So we’re allowing ourselves a longer period to figure this one out. We can’t claim to have mapped that link (between social outreach and increasing sales) yet. Fortunately we’re not yet being expected to.”

The second, a group marketing director at a PAAS (platform-as-a-service) vendor based in Texas, adds, “I’ve recently inherited the existing group budget allocation so we’re just seeing how that performs before pulling anything. We’re aiming for better awareness through our social outreach – I don’t think we’re expecting a direct link to sales this year.”

The third is a CMO for a billion-dollar-plus revenue business outsourcing provider. “We’re investing in marketing for the long-term. You can’t expect to see a sales blip short-term. We’re about three years into our social outreach, and we’re changing the mix each year so it’s difficult to compare success rates. I think it will work out and help our sales prospects – but I wouldn’t like to put a timescale on showing that.”

This just further confuses me why some B2B companies are investing in ‘social influencers’ – when there’s no proven connection between ‘social’ and ‘influence’. At least, not to the bottom-line. Don’t tell me they don’t care about that.

New White Paper: To what degree are your prospects & customers influenced by online & offline communities?

WP#18Influencer50’s new White Paper:  WP#18 : To what degree are your prospects & customers influenced by online & offline communities? – is now available for download at:

Synopsis: A 2013 McKinsey survey of B2B buyers stated that ‘an honest, open dialogue with customers and society’ was the number one most important perceived attribute of their chosen vendors. A 2013 Forrester report polled thousands of B2B marketers and concluded that online communities were one of the most influential tools in a B2B marketer’s toolkit. Despite 76% of B2B industry marketing heads rating their sector’s main forums and communities (both online & offline) as ‘very important’ in terms of influencing their prospects, only one-quarter of those same vendors are confident their organization has ongoing, proactive relationships with them. There’s clearly a vast gap between the perceived importance of industry communities to potential buyers – and vendors’ understanding of them. So why can this be?

New Influencer50 White Paper – WP#17: Commissioning an Influencer Program: What is the Cost of Inaction?

Influencer50, Nick Hayes, Influencer Marketing, WP#17: Commissioning an Influencer Program: What is the cost of Inaction?Our company’s latest White Paper – WP#17: Commissioning an Influencer Program: What is the Cost of Inaction? – is published today.

Here’s the intro:

In recent months there has been much talk in sales circles about measuring the cost of inaction. A recent survey from CSO Insights confirmed that ‘No decision’ was now the single largest barrier to sales for B2B vendors. For an Influencer Identification program, typically commissioned by the Head of Marketing, what is the cost of inaction, making ‘no decision’ or putting the idea on the backburner until the following quarter?

We see six main flags you should consider.

  1. Continue focusing resources on people who have minimal influence on your buyers – chasing media coverage your prospects wont see, briefing analysts that your prospects don’t follow, sponsoring conferences that your prospects wont notice, supporting forums that merely act as industry echo chambers. 
  2. Losing your ‘window of opportunity’ in the market. The same window that was described in your business plan as being so critical.
  3. Not hearing of new prospect RFPs early enough in the process because you weren’t well networked enough with those at the head of the food chain. 
  4. Allowing your competitors to respond more completely to RFPs and prospect enquiries, with them having already connected with the best choice of industry partners. 
  5. Allowing your competitors to gain a competitive advantage by spending their time embedding their thoughts into the right people
  6. Further expanding your social media outreach with content marketing collateral when your prospects (and their influencers) may not even look at those channels.

It incorporates our latest thinking on the subject, as well as the findings from an email questionnaire we recently issued to Heads of Marketing in US-based B2B organisations asking their opinions on five questions relating to their Marketing Outreach. We had over 150 responses. You can benchmark your own opinions against them.

You’re welcome to download a copy here:

Does your Head of Marketing have a plan for who you/they most want to meet or be introduced to during 2014?

We’ve rarely, if ever, heard of this happening, but it’s a legitimate question. Aside from perhaps telling their PR company that the agency is to seek interviews with three or four named national print papers, and perhaps an industry analyst firm or two (it will rarely be named individuals there, almost always the name of the newspaper or analyst firm). 

The reason no such outreach plan exists is perhaps for two reasons. One (we’d like to think) is that the Head of Marketing knows who they should seek meetings with, but doesn’t want the interviews to be with themselves. The second (and we think perhaps more likely) is that they don’t actually know the names of the individuals who they (or the most appropriate member of their company) should be meeting with.

If you haven’t already written that list down, is there a reason for not doing so? If you were to attempt to write that list now, how many individuals (not firms) could you honestly name?

‘WP#17: Commissioning an Influencer Program: What is the Cost of Inaction?’ will be available from 24th Feb’14.

How often do you, or someone in your team, try to remove any ‘deadwood’ from your top-tier of influencers?

Imagine your company is outreaching to say 70 or 80 named individuals in meetings, top-level invitations, phone calls etc. They’re considered your top-tier industry contacts (aside from actual sales prospects). How many would also have been on that list four or five years ago? If you’re still outreaching to the same market as then? Perhaps 20%?

Here’s a further excerpt from the new White Paper we’re publishing later this week.

We asked: “How often do you, or someone in your team, try to remove any ‘deadwood’ from your top-tier of influencers?” (‘deadwood’ meaning no longer relevant or justifying their presence in your top-tier).

The response sample size was 157.

Influencer50, Influencer Marketing, Nick Hayes, WP#17: Commissioning an Influencer Program - What is the Cost of Inaction?

‘WP#17: Commissioning an Influencer Program: What is the Cost of Inaction?’ will be available from 24th Feb’14.

What categories of Influencer do most Heads of Marketing meet?

If you’re a Head of Marketing at your firm you might like to benchmark your own findings with these. Here’s an excerpt from the new White Paper we’re publishing later this week.

We were considering the common ‘hit-rate’ of meetings with your presumed influencers. For every ten meetings what would be your expected outcome? How many would you expect to yield positive feelings at the end of the meeting. Or after one month? What failure rate would you deem acceptable? (Failure measured as “in hindsight, the meeting had no tangible benefit to us.” Two out of ten? Four out of ten? Six?

In Dec & Jan we issued short questionnaires by email to a number of U.S.-based marketing managers in both B2B and B2C organisations. All were considered senior enough to be meeting with potential partners, media, analysts, etc. The response sample size was 157.

We asked: “What categories of typical market influencer have you had (or have you set up) 1-to-1 meetings with in the past six months?”

(Of course, these aren’t the full range of Influencers, just those that ranked highest in the responses.)

Almost one-third had met at least one traditional journalist in the past six months. One-sixth had met an industry analyst.

Less than 2% had met an academic, standards body or industry regulator!

Influencer50, Influencer Marketing, Nick Hayes, WP#17.Commissioning an Influencer Program: What is the cost of Inaction?

‘WP#17: Commissioning an Influencer Program: What is the Cost of Inaction?’ will be available from 24th Feb’14.

How do you cost-justify your Influencer Outreach Program?

Influencer50, Nick Hayes, Influencer Marketing, WP#17 What is the cost of Inaction?

Here’s an excerpt from the new White Paper we’re publishing later this week.

“We proactively asked twenty of our clients how their companies were cost-justifying their Influencer Outreach program. (Of course, since we work with them we already knew the answer in most cases, but we asked again for this Paper.) 

  • Option a. Hard metrics such as Number of Leads generated, or Value of Potential Deals discussed?
  • Option b. Softer metrics such as Number of Influencers met, or Amount of Tangible Outcomes?
  • Option c. Or just simply ‘Does it feel like this is moving in the right direction for us?


  • Option a. Three of the 20 respondees
  • Option b. Eight of the 20 respondees
  • Option c. Four of the 20 respondees
  • Two said a mixture of a and b.
  • Three said a mixture of b and c.

So the median chose to cost-justify the outlay either solely through Number of Influencers Met, Amount of Tangible Outcomes, etc. or with a leaning towards a more ‘feelgood factor’ than that.

Only 25% used harder metrics.

A further 20% were comfortable relying on less metrics and more subjectivity.”

‘WP#17: Commissioning an Influencer Program: What is the Cost of Inaction?’ will be available from 24th Feb’14.

New Influencer50 White Paper: ‘Can You Be Influential To A Market And Still Remain Almost Exclusively Offline?’

Influencer50 Inc., Influencer Marketing, Influencer Identification, Engagement & Measurement, Nick HayesHow are B2B decisions really being made these days? And is social media involved in the process?