Not long after GIFs and memes took the internet by storm, Clare Brown of IDG realized something — brands could capitalize on this trend, too. So she created the first branded GIF.
This is just one example of how Clare has innovated the marketing industry. Throughout the last 10 years, she’s worked with major brands like Maybelline and AMC to revitalize their influencer marketing strategy.
Lucky for us, she agreed to chat with us about the difference between B2B and B2C influencer marketing and how treating influencers like colleagues rather than strangers has helped her create killer campaigns.
- B2C influencers are all about capitalizing on the emotions of their followers, while B2B influencers care more about thought leadership and making sure that the client gets that return on their investment.
- Relationships last longer with B2B influencers than with B2C influencers because of the size of the space and the lower turnover rates.
- Analytics with B2B and B2C influencers are very different.
- Think of your influencers as colleagues…and treat them as such by cultivating strong relationships.
- Get creative in how you communicate with your influencers, with the thought process of how you can reach even more potential partners.
Interview with Clare Brown of IDG
Perlu: Hello and welcome to the Perlu Podcast: Influencer Marketing Reimagined, a podcast where we chat with influencer marketing professionals, social media influencers, bloggers, YouTubers, podcasters, you name it, about what has led to their success. Today, we are speaking with Clare Brown, the influencer and audience strategist at International Data Group or IDG. At IDG, she manages influencer relations for top tech brands.
Clare has 10 years of experience working closely with clients to execute strategic social media and influencer campaigns. She’s overseen the social strategy and managed the social media communities for brands like AMC, Ciroc Vodka, Maybelline, Essie Nail Polish, Garnier Fructis and more. From creating the first ever branded GIF on Instagram to event executions, Clare is a champion of fostering strategic influencer relationships with a proven track record of implementing successful social media campaigns.
I’m your host, Alexis Trammell. If you enjoy today’s episode, we hope you sign up for Perlu to learn more about how you can grow your influencer marketing career. Thanks for speaking with us today, Clare.
Clare Brown: Hi, how are you? Thanks for having me.
Perlu: Awesome. Awesome. Happy to have you.
Tell us a little bit more about yourself, IDG and your role with influencers.
Clare Brown: Yeah, of course. So like you said, I have about 10 years of experience doing social media strategy work. Throughout my career I’ve done everything from community management to social media support at events like fashion week and the Oscars, and I worked in entertainment and food and beverage, and with the beauty clients as well.
So right now my role at IDG is working primarily with tech influencers, and I assist with leading the voices of our tech influencers into branded programs. This is really important because influencers help to add that layer of credibility and expertise to branded programs that might otherwise feel kind of flat if it’s only the voice of the clients.
Perlu: How else do influencers fit into the IDG marketing strategy?
Clare Brown: So influencers play a really important role in the marketing strategy at IDG, and we use them in lots of ways throughout our marketing funnel. We use influencers to provide insights; the research team will use them on panels; we tap into influencers to write thought leadership pieces, and we’ll use their quotes for custom content pieces that we do for clients. Basically, our goal is to use influencers to provide third-party expertise. And that again helps to round out client programs. So we use them on multiple touch bases throughout our marketing process.
Perlu: So, Clare, you started out in the beauty space. I’m curious,
What are some big differences you learned in working with beauty influencers in the B2C world versus tech influencers in the B2B space?
Clare Brown: Yeah, so that’s a great question. There are three major differences that I’ve noticed with B2B and B2C influencers.
The first is that B2C influencers are all about capitalizing on the emotions of their followers. For example, when you send a beauty influencer a lipstick, they’ll wear it, they look gorgeous, and then it makes her followers want the same lipstick. But for B2B, it’s a little bit different. It’s more about thought leadership, sharing and exchanging industry knowledge and then making sure that the client gets that return on their investment.
The second key difference that I’ve noticed is that I’m able to create more long term relationships with B2B influencers than I was able to do with my B2C influencers, and I think it’s because the B2B influencer space is a touch smaller. So I’m working with the same influencers multiple times on different programs.
Whether You’re B2B or B2C…
And this is unlike B2C when there were thousands upon thousands of influencers just in one little niche. Now, having that somewhat smaller pool size for B2B influencers allows me to be more strategic with how I choose influencers for branded programs, but then I’m also able to have the opportunity to work with them long term.
And the last major difference that I’ve seen is that measuring is really different. So when you’re working with influencers to promote a product in the B2C space, you can look at sales numbers to gauge success. But for B2B, it’s about different types of analytics. It’s more about impressions and effectively disseminating a message, which isn’t as easy to measure. So we have to be a little bit more strategic about how we measure and show success to the client in that way.
Perlu: That makes a lot of sense. Cool. Great. Well, thank you, Clare. I’d like to take a quick break to talk about Perlu, the platform that all influencer marketing professionals should be using to connect with influencers. It’s not a subscription based directory. It’s a professional network of active influencers, ensuring that brands partner with only the best, and you can sign up and try the platform for free today. No commitments, no obligations. Here’s Brent Scott, Perlu’s director of influencer marketing to tell you a little bit more.
What are some ways that you’ll typically measure success in a B2B campaign? Whether it’s impressions or just knowledge of the audience — how do you measure that?
Clare Brown: It’s kind of actually a combination of both of those things. Impressions are really, really important to measure main success with a B2B program. Things like clicks, but then also things you might not think about, like attendance for example. We do biweekly Twitter chats, and some of those are branded by our clients.
So making sure that there are people there and then measuring the reach of the people that are there is a huge way that we measure the success of those types of programs. For example, when the CIO of a major corporation joins our Twitter chat, then we’re able to see that lift, that reach and that message being disseminated out to a larger audience.
So it’s really actually about the value of the influencers versus the volume. Which is also different from B2C, where it was about getting a product out to as many people as possible. This is more about making sure that it’s the perfect influencer for a campaign.
Perlu: What are some unique strategies that you’ve used to engage with these industry experts, influencers and their audiences? What kinds of results have you experienced from that?
Clare Brown: Yeah. So I would say that influencer strategy at its core is all about relationship building.
And I noticed that I get the best results from programs when they center around a solid relationship. And since the tech influencer community is smaller than a fashion influencer community, it’s easier to make and also to sustain relationships. And to develop a pool of top tier influencers that consistently do great work.
I like to think about the influencers I work with almost as colleagues instead of just a pool of strangers that I reach out to.
I maintain correspondence with them between campaigns. I make sure they’re invited to every Twitter chat and that I’m checking in on them, making sure they’re okay. It’s even the little things like are they on my Christmas card list?
And then I’m able to get better results because I understand the type of work they want to do and I understand where they really thrive and shine so that I’m able to give them the right work versus just blanket pitching an influencer and hoping for the best.
Perlu: Of course. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.
Do you have any advice for anyone who is new to the influencer marketing space?
Clare Brown: Yeah, so influencer marketing is a really hot niche right now — basically permeating every industry. And so many organizations are tapping into the power of influencers.
So if you’re an aspiring influencer marketer, you really do have the ability to make a change and make a real impact in your organization. I would say that my biggest tip for someone who wants to break into the industry would be to be a self starter. There really isn’t a road map for success when it comes to influencer marketing.
It’s all about understanding your organization and understanding what work will be successful within your niche. And then also to prioritize analytics because as the influencer marketer, you’ll find that you’re always trying to prove your value and prove the value of influencer marketing.
So making sure that you have a solid understanding of analytics and how to show value through members is super important. And then also being creative.
You can be creative, and you can create really cool programs that are centered around a specific influencer’s blog or around their Instagram presence.
Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. I find that whenever I get creative or whenever I do something new, that’s when I get the best results. For example, the IDG TECHTalk Twitter chats. That was just something that I kind of came up with as a way to touch base with our influencers, not having to email them every week.
And then it has morphed into a full product for the company. So you never know when the little nuggets of genius will spark and you’ll be able to create something really cool out of them.
Perlu: Absolutely. Absolutely. I do want to ask you a follow-up question on that.
Rethink Your Brand’s Influencer Marketing
If you could explain a little bit more about the IDG TECHTalks on Twitter, I’d love to hear more about that.
Clare Brown: So our IDG TECHTalk series is a biweekly Twitter chat series. The event actually started as a way to touch base with our influencers on a regular basis. I touched on how important it is to stay in contact with influencers.
But the reality is we’re all really busy at work and we don’t have a whole ton of time to email 50 people every week, and the influencers don’t have a whole lot of time to be emailing with me for nothing every week. The IDG TECHTalk was a way for us to touch base with influencers, but do it in a strategic way.
So we pick a topic that is based on the tech enterprise every week, and we talk about it for an hour, and it’s really fun. They’re very informal, and they’re a great way for influencers to share knowledge. And then it’s also a great way for me to reach out to existing influencers that I already know and to identify new influencers.
And then from there, we now have branded a Twitter chat. So a client can come and sponsor one of our chats. They can help us create a topic that fits their organization’s objectives, and they can have their CIO or their leadership join the chat, and they’re really fun, exciting ways to see influencers in the space that you might not know exists unless you have these conversations. So it’s really meaningful for the client because they’re able to look at all of these people talking about machine learning, consider using them for future campaigns. Or they had no idea that this is what people are talking about when it comes to artificial intelligence.
So it’s kind of like a real-time focus group, in addition to a great way for us to connect with our influencers.
Perlu: Oh, that’s so, so cool. I love the idea of doing an online focus group and just getting in touch with influencers that you wouldn’t have thought about in the first place.
Are there any other creative strategies that you’ve used in the past to find influencers?
Clare Brown: Yeah. So we do something here at IDG called crowdsourced articles. And what happens is the client will work with us to come up with a question that’s based on their niche, and then I go out to our pool of influencers and ask them the question. Then I compile all the quotes and they get put into an article that lives on an IDG site.
This is really popular with our clients, but it’s also a great way for me to find new influencers and to touch base with our existing influencers. So I spend about two weeks calling our influencer database, but then also reaching out and finding people on LinkedIn or on Twitter that maybe will be able to lend their expertise, but we haven’t worked with them before.
So that’s kind of the first layer. But then the second layer of engagement comes when the article’s actually live. So once the article goes live, I share it and I tag on social media people that were featured, and then they in turn share it because they just got featured in this great article.
And then usually their network will see it and say, Hey, I want to be part of this. And so I’ll have people that reach out to me to say add me to your list. I want to be part of these articles. I want to share my expertise. Because the great thing about the to-be influencers is that they use social media as a way to share their expertise.
They’re always looking for more opportunities to expand that. The crowdsource articles are a great way for them to do that.
Perlu: That’s so cool. I love to hear that. You know, Clare, I can’t thank you enough for being on today’s show. I feel like you gave us some really valuable insight into the differences between B2C and B2B and just how you engage tech influencers today. So thank you so much.
Clare Brown: Oh, thank you so much for having me. This was a great opportunity.
Perlu: Awesome. Awesome. So I hope all of you listening really enjoyed hearing from Clare Brown at IDG. We hope you connect with IDG on Perlu. If you like our show and are interested in what it takes to succeed in influencer marketing, check out our blog at blog.perlu.com for more podcasts and blog posts and sign up for Perlu at perlu.com to meet, mingle, connect, collaborate, and grow your career.
We hope you join us for our next installation of the Perlu Podcast: Influencer Marketing Reimagined.