In the intricate dance of B2B marketing, establishing trust and credibility isn’t just beneficial; it’s essential. As we navigate through this complex landscape, the spotlight increasingly falls on a pivotal figure: the influencer.

Far removed from the realms of viral dances and lifestyle vlogs, B2B influencers wield a power rooted in expertise, authority, and genuine community engagement.

Carter Hostelley, Leadtail co-founder and CEO, joined the Lay of the Brand podcast to share his perspective on this evolving narrative, offering invaluable insights for brands looking to navigate the influencer marketing domain effectively.

The True Essence of a B2B Influencer

At its core, being an influencer in the B2B sector transcends the superficial metrics of social media fame.

“Influencers are folks that have a platform and an audience that companies want to sell to,” Carter explains.

This redefinition moves beyond mere numbers, focusing instead on the quality of engagement and the relevance of the audience.

Whether through podcasting, video creation, or speaking engagements, the true influencer speaks directly to the needs and interests of their niche audience.

Thought Leadership: Beyond Being the Smartest in the Room

Carter challenges the conventional wisdom around thought leadership, proposing a shift towards being a “valued member of the community.”

This perspective encourages a deeper reflection on how one can contribute value rather than merely showcasing intellect. True thought leaders pave the way forward, offering unique insights and guiding their audience toward the future.

This approach fosters a more inclusive and productive dialogue within the community, moving away from the ego-driven desire to dominate every conversation.

Building an Authentic Audience

The significance of cultivating an engaged audience cannot be overstated. Carter draws an apt analogy, likening an influencer without an audience to a tree falling in an empty forest.

The essence of influence lies in the ability to command attention, to be the go-to source for insights and solutions. 

Achieving this requires not only visibility but also a deep, authentic connection with the audience, built over time through consistent, valuable contributions.

“The power of thought leadership and having true opinion and perspective is that you start to own the mindshare. You’re the person someone should talk to if they’re trying to figure out these couple of things,” Carter says.

Navigating Platforms and Partnerships

In the diverse ecosystem of digital platforms, Carter emphasizes the importance of aligning an influencer’s activities with their primary channel.

Whether it’s leveraging YouTube for video influencers or maximizing LinkedIn for thought leadership, understanding where an influencer’s voice resonates the most is crucial for amplifying impact. 

Moreover, Carter advises against viewing influencer relationships in purely transactional terms. Instead, fostering genuine connections sets the foundation for long-term partnerships and mutual growth.

Don’t start off the relationship with an influencer as a transaction,” he says. “Build a relationship such that when you really want them to create custom work for you, of course, you should pay them, but that’s not where you start.”

The Role of AI in Influencer Marketing

As AI continues to reshape the landscape of content creation, Carter sees an opportunity for influencers to stand out by doubling down on authenticity and opinionated content.

In an era where AI-generated content threatens to homogenize the digital space, the unique voices of influencers serve as beacons of originality and engagement.

Forging the Future of Influencer Marketing

For brands venturing into the world of influencer marketing, Carter’s advice is clear: focus on building relationships that transcend mere transactions. Treat influencers as valued partners, with the ultimate goal of nurturing them into brand advocates.

This approach not only enriches the brand’s narrative but also cultivates a network of trust and credibility within the industry.

A Human-Centric Approach to Digital Influence

Carter’s insights illuminate the path forward for B2B influencer marketing. It’s a journey that values authenticity, community engagement, and strategic collaboration above all.

By redefining what it means to be an influencer in the B2B context, brands can unlock new levels of connection and influence, grounded in the timeless principles of trust and genuine interaction.

In this new era, B2B marketers need to remember that at the heart of every digital interaction lies a human connection. It’s this connection that ultimately shapes the success of our marketing endeavors, transforming the digital landscape into a space of meaningful dialogue and mutual growth.

Ready to get started with B2B social media marketing? Let’s talk!