As quality content becomes easier to produce and users spend more time consuming digital content, there is no escaping the creator economy. In fact, Goldman Sachs believes the industry could double in size to $480 billion by 2027.
And the numbers stack up - Meta suggests 78% of consumers believe creators are influential for their brand discovery, with 71% taking a shopping action after seeing their content. This is supported by Nielson who say 71% trust brand posts from influencer accounts.
In the B2B world, it’s becoming increasingly clear that using individuals to promote your business and services to other businesses is an opportunity that can’t be ignored. And if you don’t believe me, Ogilvy report 75% of b2b businesses are already using influencers as a part of their marketing strategy .
What is a 'Creator'?
To clear up any confusion, a ‘creator’ is someone who has built an audience on digital platforms through the content they create. They can effectively promote anything from makeup and clothing products to B2B products. Creators are different to ‘influencers’ who have a large following because of their celebrity which is developed offline - such as Kim Kardashian or David Beckham.
Now, even though it may feel like Creators solely exist on TikTok and YouTube fronting self-produced video content, this is not the case. They can also pop up as podcast hosts, or through their impactful writing on platforms like Medium or Substack.
Creators can often be huge names with a massive impact in popular culture. They can take a product from nothing, to the hottest item on the market with just one Reel. Just look at what KSI and Logan Paul have done with PRIME, leading to literal fights over the fizzy drink in supermarket aisles. And let’s not forget Mr Beast aka Jimmy Donaldson who - according to Forbes’ second annual Top Creator List - earned $83m from his 312m followers.
How Creators help B2B businesses
Okay, so we’ve established that creators can be incredibly influential amongst their audience. That’s all well and good - but how does that help you sell your SaaS product into People Teams?
If you look at the brands Mr Beast has worked with - not to mention his own - they’re all mass market:
- SeatGeek - a ticket reseller platform
- PUBG Mobile - a mobile games publisher
- Honey - a browser extension which offers discount codes
All these brands pay large sums of money to access Mr Beast’s established audience to boost awareness for their product.
They’re paying for the opportunity to have Mr Beast act as a spokesman for their brand through his voice and content. They’re essentially renting the relationship he’s established with his fans, the trust they have in him, and a small spot in the content he’s known for.
And in return, these brands expect to see an increase in brand awareness and conversions, with the hope that Mr Beast’s audience will engage with the content and move over to the brand platform to register and/or buy their products.
It’s a relatively straightforward and (should be) familiar process for marketeers:
- Identify your target audience
- Work out the best way to reach them with your message
- Identify people who can help you achieve that
And it’s easily replicable, whether you’re selling a fizzy drink or an online tool for business.
Let’s make this B2B influencer idea more tangible. Take Robert Mayhew. A marketeer himself, he started a TikTok channel highlighting the problems, challenges and in-jokes of agency life. Since starting his channel, he’s amassed more than 150k followers and 5.3m likes.
This is incredible growth. But given his personal brand niche, is he the right influencer to partner with? Well if you work for Nike, probably not. But if you work for Sitecore XM Cloud, selling an ‘end to end solution for creating industry-leading websites’, he’s spot on.
How about another example? @workinsocialtheysaid is an Instagram meme account. It documents the ongoing struggles of Social Media Managers such as trying to ‘make something go viral’, having a job description longer than some short stories, and why you can never seem to escape work.
Initially, they might seem like an odd account to collaborate with. But, if you have a product which can alleviate any of these common pain points, or even if you're selling tickets to a social media conference - they are the perfect partner for you.
Follow the same process identified above and it should make sense:
- Identify your target audience: You want to reach digital marketers.
- Work out the best way to reach them with your message: They spend a lot of their time on social platforms for both work and pleasure.
- Identify people who can help you achieve that: Robert Mayhew and @workinsocialtheysaid create content for and have built engaged audiences matching your target group.
But what if you don’t have big budgets to spend on creators?
Firstly, you have to remember it’s not about how much reach or how many followers a creator has. It’s all about getting your message in front of the right people. Sure, The Rock has an enormous amount of impressions on every one of his posts - but how many of them are web developers who might sign up to your hosting platform? Not many. How many of them won’t have the first idea what you’re trying to sell? Loads.
So even if a creator only has 5,000 followers - if they’re the right followers - they might be the perfect person to collaborate with on a smaller budget.
And that’s not your only option. Look inwards - work with your staff and empower them to share your company’s mission, values, and even products on their personal social media channels. Ultimately, people within your business are often your greatest and most effective advocates.
But please, don’t expect them to post without any remuneration. You can and should incentivise employees with commission through office perks such as offsites or earlier finishes on a Friday afternoon to motivate and reward.
Does it work?
With 57% of marketers already using creators on a monthly basis, their impact and significance is clear: they positively impact consumer trust, consideration, and ultimately conversions. And there are many more reports that further support this.
Creators need to be seriously considered as part of your B2B marketing mix. Yes, they work for B2C campaigns, but that doesn’t mean B2B companies can’t get in on the action. These creators can add an authentic and influential voice to the promotion of your products and services.
The proof is in the pudding.
If reading this post has got you thinking - “This piece about B2B marketing using ‘a creator’ has done its job for Passionfruit”. In essence Passionfruit have:
- Identified their target audience: You.
- Worked out the best way to reach you: Through a (hopefully) interesting article written by an incredibly talented and knowledgeable Passionfruit Marketing Specialist (i.e. their ‘product’).
- Identified someone to help them achieve their goal: Me - The incredibly talented and knowledgeable Passionfruit Marketing Specialist 😉
How do you find accounts to work with?
There are a number of tools like Tubular Labs and agencies who’ll help you. But a free and straightforward method is to go onto platforms like TikTok, Instagram and - increasingly and perhaps most relevant for B2B marketing - LinkedIn and search relevant hashtags:
- Which creators can you find?
- Do you like their content?
- Is their content consistent over time?
- Are the people engaging and commenting?
- Are they your target audience?
- And are their comments saying the right thing - ie. talking about your line of work/industry and so on?
Or think of the places you go to for insight on your industry - perhaps a blog, podcast or newsletter?
Try reaching out to the publisher and see if they’re interested in a potential partnership. Remember, it doesn’t have to just be video content, you can work with creators with varying forms of content.
Once you’ve identified a potential collaborator, make sure your assumptions are correct. Ask about their audience demographic and what type of content typically resonates with them. Just because someone is a British creator doesn’t mean they have a majority UK audience. It’s always good to double check.