The term “influencer marketing” often evokes thoughts of popular B2C products showcased by social media gurus with millions of followers. But influencer marketing is not just for B2C. B2B companies are leaving money on the table by not exploring influencer marketing as a significant marketing component for their businesses.
The numbers don’t lie: in 2022, the influencer marketing industry will surpass $15 billion in revenue. According to 74% of B2B marketers in a recent study, influencer marketing positively impacts a customer’s relationship with the brand. So, where can eager B2B marketers find the best influencers? The answer is LinkedIn, the B2B social media platform of choice.
Not only is LinkedIn a great place for B2B marketers to employ influencer marketing, but it’s also a place for them to learn from some of the best B2B influencers. So-called “LinkedInFluencers” are a source of invaluable information and tips for B2B marketers, and the ROI on reading a few choice posts can be dramatic.
Let’s take a deep dive into LinkedIn influencers and B2B influencer marketing, where we’ll learn what it is, why it’s vital for B2B, and uncover the top ten LinkedInFluencers to follow.
What is B2B influencer marketing?
B2B influencer marketing utilizes thought leaders and professional influencers on platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn to advocate their product or service. Contrasted with the physical product marketing performed by B2C influencers, B2B influencers are selling an idea or a narrative.
In 2017, 48% of B2C brands used influencer marketing, versus just 11% of B2B companies utilizing similar practices. B2B is lagging in the influencer marketing space, but it’s beginning to catch up.
Having a prominent figure with a large following on LinkedIn showcasing a B2B product is incredibly effective. A message about a SaaS tool, for example, will be much better received from a digital transformation expert on LinkedIn over the brand itself.
These thought leaders have a following for a reason: people trust their opinion. This trust makes B2B influencer marketing so effective for products and services across industries.
Why is influencer marketing key for B2B?
A recent study showed that B2B brands could realize an 11x return on investment with influencer marketing over the return on other marketing tactics. The effectiveness of LinkedIn influencers and other professional leaders endorsing a product is astounding, but influencer marketing is more strategic than simply making sales.
If an expert in a specific industry is taken notice of by numerous companies, industry leaders, and other experts, their opinion on one product has the potential to shape the entire industry.
For example, the Future of Work is a huge topic on LinkedIn with the rise of remote and hybrid work. Several LinkedIn influencers have emerged as remote-work advocates, posting thought-leadership pieces that earn high engagement. If one of these influencers were to speak about a new practice or tactic for achieving better work-life balance, it would spark more conversations across the industry.
While it may not automatically convince everyone, thought leadership starts the conversation and provokes, well, thought. Influencer marketing has the power to change the narrative around a topic.
Influencer marketing is much bigger than profit margins or new customers; it has the potential to turn companies from “just another company” to a household name in their industry.
What’s a LinkedInFluencer, and why should you care?
In the B2C world, most influencer marketing happens on platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok, but B2B organizations work differently. While those channels work in the B2B space as well, we’ve found more success with LinkedIn and Twitter.
LinkedIn is the optimal social media platform for lead generation, with its users converting to B2B leads three times more than Facebook or Twitter. The numbers show that four out of five LinkedIn users are decision-makers in their companies, which is precisely the audience B2B marketing targets.
LinkedInFluencers are a unique subset of social media influencers. Often seen as more professional and recognized as thought-leaders across industries, LinkedInFluencers capture the attention of many influential decision-makers. By using their status to promote B2B products and services to their audiences, business leaders are more likely to trust these opinions about products and services, ultimately impacting entire organizations.
LinkedInFluencers add more value to B2B companies than influencers on any other social media platform from a brand partnership perspective. LinkedIn is responsible for generating 80% of all B2B leads on social media – that’s more than all other social platforms combined.
The Top 10 LinkedIn Influencers (LinkedInFluencers) to Follow
If you want to find great examples of B2B influencer marketing on LinkedIn, here are the top ten LinkedInFluencers you should be following:
1. Neil Patel
Bio: Recognized worldwide as a digital marketing and online content guru, Neil Patel shares ideas on how brands can optimize their digital strategy, engage online users, and strike a chord with members of their industry. His approach is witty, friendly, and will make you stop and think.
Why You Should Follow Them: The space of digital marketing can be difficult to master, but Neil Patel has done it, and he isn’t holding back on any of his tips or tricks. Neil Patel is the expert to follow for best practice guidance, creative inspiration, and everything in between.
Areas of Expertise: Digital Strategy, Harnessing the Power of the Internet
Bio: Jennifer wholeheartedly believes that social media is a tool for more than just sales and business advances; it’s a way to find human connection, discuss big ideas, and build community. As the current host of Oktopost’s podcast Radically Transparent, Jennifer shares tools and tips on how B2B organizations can make social media take on a deeper meaning.
Why You Should Follow Them: Jennifer’s LinkedInFluencer approach is based on humanity. She straddles the line between sharing keys to success and building a community.
Areas of Expertise: B2B Leadership, Social Media Marketing, Employee Advocacy
Bio: Commonly known as “GaryVee,” Gary Vaynerchuk is a passionate entrepreneur who has positioned himself as a master of forward-thinking in all things business, innovation, content, and internet engagement. Today, he focuses much of his professional energy on his advertising agency, VaynerMedia, which helps businesses connect with customers through multiple channels.
Why You Should Follow Them: Unlike many other CEOs and business leaders, GaryVee documents nearly every day of his life via social media. He showcases what it is like to be in such a high-profile role while also sharing tips, tricks, and motivation. If you’re looking for someone to light a fire under you while showing you how to turn that fire into action, GaryVee is your guy.
Areas of Expertise: Entrepreneurship, Consumer Behavior, Leadership Methodology
Bio: Marsha has become a master of nearly everything she pursues. Author of 40 “For Dummies” books, she spends her time educating readers on best practices for eBay, eCommerce, and social media marketing. She’s known for taking complex concepts, simplifying them with ease, and sharing those concepts with the masses.
Why You Should Follow Them: Constantly posting engaging videos, discussions, and thought-provoking questions, Marsha’s LinkedIn is where leaders from all industries flock to discuss social media strategy, customer service, and emerging technologies.
Areas of Expertise: Ecommerce, Social Media, Customer Service
5. Matt Bailey
Bio: Known for turning data into action, Matt Bailey helps complex organizations and teams take the data, find the story, and use communication to write the next chapter. Often consulting for companies like IBM, Google, and Microsoft, Matt works with the best of the best, leading the top thinkers in their industry through exercises to maximize their digital reach.
Why You Should Follow Them: Matt’s humorous edge makes everything he says easier to listen to. He is an expert in deciphering what works and what doesn’t when it comes to digital marketing. His reliance on data ensures that everything he says is backed up by numbers, which is huge when there are so many voices in the space.
Areas of Expertise: Data-Driven Digital Marketing
6. Liz Ryan
Bio: As the CEO and founder of Human Workplace, Liz Ryan challenges companies to morph into organizations that work for the people they employ. She throws the status quo out the window. Liz shines a light on the fact that businesses do not have to do things the way they have always been done – in fact, it might be better for the business if things change.
Why You Should Follow Them: Whether you are an employer or an employee, Liz helps everyone realize that work doesn’t actually have to feel like work. She encourages individuals to set healthy boundaries and, when that fails, to find a place that suits their needs.
Areas of Expertise: Human Resources, Leadership
Bio: Richard Branson grew Virgin Group from the ground up. He started small, and now the company plays in multiple sectors, slowly growing more dominant in each one. Virgin is one of the most well-respected brands in the sectors of financial services, health and wellness, leisure and entertainment, mobile telephony, and travel and transportation.
Why You Should Follow Them: With expertise spanning multiple industries, Richard Branson shares his views about how to best grow companies in various fields. He’s also popular on LinkedIn for sharing snippets of his personal life, reinforcing his belief that people make the best leaders.
Areas of Expertise: Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Travel, Sustainability
Bio: While “money” isn’t Jill’s middle name, it is the focal point of her podcast “Jill on Money” and her radio show “Eye on Money.” A financial markets expert, Jill spends her time helping business leaders and investors make sense of the wild wild west of finance. She’s notorious for simplifying complex market behavior, providing actionable advice, and having fun along the way.
Why You Should Follow Them: Though Jill spends a lot of time guiding large organizations and investors through the financial markets, her advice and breakdown of financial volatility is critical for individuals, too.
Areas of Expertise: Financial Markets, Money Expert
9. Greg McKeown
Bio: Arguing that instead of doing more, we should be focused on doing less, Greg McKeown is a powerful LinkedInFluencer. He’s authored productivity-related books titled “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” and “Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most.” He spends a lot of time speaking to large companies about how we’ve got the idea of productivity all wrong and what steps we can take to focus on what really matters.
Why You Should Follow Them: If Greg’s books are filled with helpful information and advice on how to master the art of doing less, his LinkedIn posts are a reflection of that. He is constantly sharing tidbits on what organizations and individuals can be doing differently to achieve more. Spoiler: doing more doesn’t mean achieving more.
Areas of Expertise: Productivity, Leadership, Personal Growth
10. Ann Handley
Bio: All about “killer content,” Ann Handley focuses on how brands can engage with online audiences, hold attention longer, and build a loyal following. She reminds brands of the importance of the customer experience, highlighting how to make customers happier without them even realizing it.
Why You Should Follow Them: Ann’s posts are engaging and offer expert-level advice that’s digestible and actionable. She doesn’t leave her audience wondering how to find success, but rather, she helps build roadmaps that everyone can use.
Areas of Expertise: Digital Marketing, Content Strategy
LinkedInFluencers Should Be Part of Your Marketing Strategy
It may be hard to believe that one person has the potential to have significant influence over an entire industry. But by unlocking partnerships with the right LinkedInFluencers, your B2B organization can access the best and brightest leaders within your field.
It might be difficult to get a meeting with the leaders themselves. However, reaching them through the profile of someone they admire and look to for industry advice is possible through B2B influencer marketing.
Of course, it would be even more ideal if you could employ LinkedIn influencers. While existing influencers may be difficult to hire, you could always transform your own existing employees into LinkedIn influencers via employee advocacy.
B2B companies should be amplifying their presence on social media platforms and Oktopost makes it easy. Oktopost’s social media management platform allows B2B organizations to maximize their online presence through easy scheduling of social media posts, a robust analytics package, and actionable trend insights. With strategically-planned social media campaigns, strong partnerships with LinkedInFluencers, and a brand that customers can trust, B2B companies can experience exponential growth and high ROI.