I think you’ll agree with me:
Finding the appropriate B2B influencers for a Fortune 500 client half a world away and where the client doesn’t have many relationships – of that type – is a challenge!
But how difficult is it?
Well, it turns out that you can find appropriate influencers for just about any client, anywhere in the world simply by adjusting your tactics a bit.
And today, I’m going to show you exactly what those tactics are and how you can apply them to your own influencer strategy.
But first, let’s sketch out the situation to give you more clarity:
- My client wanted me to organize, plan and execute an event for about a dozen influencers to be held in Singapore (across the world from where I am located).
- The event was to be two days in duration and an exclusive, in-person deep dive into my client’s business-to-business (B2B) technology strategy and products.
- I was to find and invite a selection of B2B technology influencers from all around the Asia-Pacific region representing a variety of countries including China.
- The influencers were not to be directly paid but their air travel, hotel accommodations and meals were to be paid for.
- And I had six weeks to pull this together.
The objectives for the event were focused on driving awareness as you’ll see here:
- Promote client’s presence in Asia Pacific and Japan via independent and influential industry influencers.
- Generate authoritative, influencer content around client’s B2B technologies.
- Establish relationships with independent influencers who collectively reach millions of active audience members via multiple social channels.
- Leverage original, multimedia content generated by influencers for re-purposing by client marketing teams.
First, determine the venue and the timing
The first thing to do with any event is to determine the timing and venue where the event will be held.
These are the first two things that must be nailed down first.
Fortunately, we knew the timing (six weeks) and the client were willing to host the event at one of their facilities in Singapore.
This made things easier.
Hosting the event at a client facility is always preferable because it conveys a sense of inclusiveness and special privilege to the influencers who attend.
Like the Wizard of Oz, they get a sense of seeing how things operate behind the curtain.
But what about the influencers themselves?
How did I go about finding influencers who were B2B focused in a region well-known to be more gadget and consumer focused?
Find “anchor” influencers and build around them
Events are tricky because a lot can go wrong.
Think about what goes into planning a wedding or a surprise birthday party.
You have to assemble a guest list, pick a venue, arrange for food, it has to be timed so the maximum number of guests can come and much more.
But what happens when the guests and the host (client) don’t know each other?
I take some of the guesswork out of it and invite a couple of influencers who I know and trust.
Naturally, they are relevant and their content is congruent with my client’s business and products.
That goes without saying.
These influencers are people I’ve worked with before and who usually know and understand my client to some extent.
They’ve also likely been to other events I’ve organized so they understand what goes on, how I like to run things and they help by breaking the ice between the new influencers and my client.
This alone makes them invaluable.
I call these influencers “anchor influencers” and they form the hub of my invitees for any event (virtual or otherwise).
Who were my “anchor” influencers?
For this event, I invited Mauricio Freitas who is located in New Zealand and who is a well-rounded technology generalist.
Mauricio has a broad spectrum of knowledge from mobile phones to data centres.
Nicely, being from New Zealand, he counted as “from the region.”
Next, I asked my clients about inviting Jake Ludington.
Jake is primarily a video influencer which made inviting him a good idea because my client wanted video of the event and interviews with some of their spokespeople.
Like Mauricio, Jake is also a technology generalist with a deep background and knows B2B tech.
He’s also a top notch interviewer — a great skill needed for the event.
For these reasons, my client agreed to invite him.
Now that I had two anchor influencers and it was time to begin looking for others around the region.
How I Identified and Selected Regional Influencers
This is where it got a bit more challenging.
I searched for tech influencers in the region via Google and took a careful look at their profiles and areas of interest.
If they covered technology other than just gadgets, I reached out to them via email to inquire if they would be interested in learning more about my client’s event.
Once they understood the event was about B2B technology, they quickly either said “yes” or simply didn’t reply.
Most influencers who replied knew something about B2B technology and wanted to learn more.
Something I didn’t expect was that some complained to me that the companies in the region only wanted to talk about consumer gadgets, so they jumped at the chance to cover something different.
Plus, the idea of being invited to an exclusive event by a leading technology company was enticing.
They were excited to attend.
The only problem with my method was that searching for influencers this way was time consuming.
To make the process more efficient, I asked each one if they knew of other tech influencers who might be interested.
They were very helpful and as a result I even located an American expat living in China named Larry Salibra.
This was a real boon because locating influencers in China (at the time) was very difficult and the client wanted at least one influencer from there.
Using this method, I grew my list of candidates quickly and selected a number to invite to the event.
In total, we secured 14 influencers from all around the region including:
How I managed the event and kept track of content as it was generated
Here’s how we assigned roles to our agency team members…
It is impossible to manage and event without being there, on site to handle problems as they inevitably happen. So, someone from my team needed to be there.
I decided to ask my colleague Nick to travel to Singapore to attend and manage the event from the ground.
I stayed behind to monitor content as it was generated by the influencers in order to provide a report at the end of each day.
And our colleague Terri would handle all the travel and hotel logistics for the influencers.
Talk about the hardest job of all!
Terri had to contact all the influencers individually and arrange for their airline tickets, travel credentials and hotel accommodations – all while keeping to a strict schedule and budget.
Once all of these pieces were in place, we formally briefed the client on the influencers and how they should expect to interact with them during the event.
Next helped our client to refine and finalize the agenda.
We also helped them with the format for conveying the information.
It was imperative to ensure the format was dynamic and encouraged ample participation by the attendees.
How our influencer event played out
So, how did it go?
Were we successful in meeting our goals?
Let’s take a look:
Strategically, this event enabled my client to establish relations with a solid foundation of influencers who are located throughout the region which expanded their footprint into the various countries represented beyond traditional marketing methods.
These relationships also acted as a foundation that allowed my client to build upon them and expand their network of influencers over time.
This had the effect of increasing awareness and driving their marketing messaging further than before.
Now let’s take a look at the content generated during the event itself:
The emphasis here was on long form content … blog posts and videos because these are searchable for years afterwards and can be leveraged for repurposing by the client.
The social media content generated in the form of Tweets helped to evangelize the event which had the effect of alerting other influencers, partner companies and even competitors about its existence.
Overall, the event was a success and the client very happy with the results but it was one heck of a challenge.
Tom Augenthaler is an influencer marketing specialist, consultant and coach. He has worked extensively with brands on influencer marketing campaign across the globe. You can find more about Tom and examples of his writing on his website The Influencer Marketer (www.theinfluencemarketer.com) or follow him on LinkedIn to keep up to date with his latest thought leadership and projects.