Ever notice that the people who say, “trust me,” are the least trustworthy people around? Something about those two little words immediately puts people on guard. If you were really trustworthy, we think, you wouldn’t have to ask.
Right now, we have a serious trust gap in our cultural institutions. The Edelman Trust Barometer for this year shows a continued downward spiral. Nearly half of respondents view the government and the media as divisive forces in society, rather than sources of reliable information.
“Trust me,” says the senator. “Trust ME,” says the pundit. And most of us say, “no, thank you.”
This trust gap may seem like the perfect opportunity for business to step in. After all, B2B brands want to be trusted advisors to potential clients. The only problem is, even if consumers trust us more than the government or media… they still don’t trust us all that much.
Thankfully, this is one of the many B2B marketing challenges that co-creating content with influential industry experts and thought leaders can fix. Here are five ways that B2B influencer marketing can build trust.
#1: Boosting Visibility
This is influencer marketing at the simplest level. If a trusted influencer in your industry has a million followers, and your brand accounts have a couple thousand, the influencer’s participation widens your audience.
Of course, influence isn’t solely about numbers. The right influencer should have a sizable audience that is immediately relevant to your brand. And they should be actively engaging with that audience, not just broadcasting.
With a truly relevant, actually influential person aligned with the brand, you can boost visibility in a meaningful, useful way.
#2: Boosting Credibility
In addition to amplifying your message, the right influencers can make your message—and the intent behind it—more credible. For example, our client Prophix could have written an eBook by themselves called “The Ultimate Finance Software Purchase Guide.” However, since Prophix is a Finance platform, one would suspect highly biased advice from them.
Instead, Prophix co-created three smaller assets on specific aspects of digital transformation in Finance. Each one features three respected thought leaders in the field.
Now Prophix is saying, “This is the way the industry is headed, according to these experts,” rather than, “We think you should buy our solution.”
Influencer co-created content shows that you genuinely care about the audience, and are committed to presenting something of value they can’t get anywhere else.
#3: Aligning with Purpose
Purpose is becoming a major differentiator for both B2B and B2C. Consumers and B2B buyers alike want to spend money with people who have the same values. That means brands need to:
- Define their values
- Live those values
- Broadcast their values in a meaningful way.
Influencers can help with the last item on the list. Partnering with influencers who are passionate about a purpose can help your brand demonstrate its commitment to the cause.
For its Champions of Science podcast series, client 3M worked with purpose-driven influencers each episode. These folks were chosen to illustrate 3M’s commitment to advancing scientific causes, increasing accessibility to science education, and beyond. By giving a platform to these passionate people, 3M was able to express their brand’s values without having to say a word.
#4: Amplifying Voices
We covered how influencers can help amplify your content. But what can your brand do for up-and-coming influencers? Especially those in marginalized or historically oppressed communities?
Every brand should have diversity and inclusion as part of their expressed and lived values. One way to get closer to that goal is to lend your platform to promote diverse voices.
When you’re looking at co-creating content with influencers, keep an eye out for up and coming folks that you can help get heard. Most importantly, don’t look for a person of color only when it’s Juneteenth or Black History Month. Don’t seek out a transgender person solely to talk about Pride Month or trans issues. Make diversity a habit for all your content. It’s an easy way to show your audience that you’re sincerely committed to inclusion.
#5: Building Community
Let’s talk about building community. What do I mean by that? Well, when you have a group of influencers that you work with regularly, you can help them get to know each other. You can make mutually beneficial introductions. You can put them in conversation with each other, let them bounce ideas off one another, brainstorm and innovate and create cool stuff.
When your influencers are truly a community, you’re constantly providing value three different ways:
- Helping influencers meet and network
- Helping influencers come up with cool new stuff
- Generating great content for your audience
Ultimately, you can put a community of trusted influencers directly in contact with your audience, through a brand-owned channel. For example, you could have a webinar series with live Q&A. Then continue the conversation in a brand channel— on a showplace Page or Group on LinkedIn, or a brand-hosted forum on your own site. Their interactions will help build trust within the community, with the brand, and with your audience.
It’s Always Been a Matter of Trust
In the immortal words of the Bard himself, Billy Joel, “You can’t go the distance with too much resistance… it’s always been a matter of trust.” The Piano Man saw it way back in the 80s, and it’s far past time for B2B Marketers to catch on.
The way to reduce resistance with B2B buyers is to build trust. The way to build trust is to align the brand with trusted, authoritative, influential people, and work with them to bring useful content to your audience and prove your commitment to the brand’s values.
Are you ready to kickstart an influencer marketing program for your B2B brand? We can help.