Why the B2B creator economy will revolutionize marketing

While influencer marketing has revolutionized the way that brands engage consumers, the B2B world has been slow to wake up to the possibilities of the creator economy. As part of The Drum’s Digital Transformation Festival, LinkedIn’s head of creator economy in EMEA and LATAM, Julien Wettstein, and The Drum B2B Award winner and strategy director of The CrocJack Trew, spoke to The Drum’s US reporter Kendra Clark about how that is changing.

Anyone can be a creator

Arguing that B2B influencers can succeed in any sector, Wettstein asserted that anyone with a professional voice could be a creator on LinkedIn. “You can be a lawyer, you can be in pharma, you can be an accountant,” he said. “The only thing that really matters is that you're passionate about your topic, and that you're interested in building a community.”

Wettstein explained that LinkedIn creators comprised both what he termed ‘homegrown talent’ such as Janet Mui, head of market analysis at Brewin Dolphin, and existing creators, such as Caspar Lee and YouTuber Mr Beast, who had migrated to LinkedIn.

He added that his team searched for, and supported, creators with the ability to cultivate their own voice and create content to serve LinkedIn audiences. “We work super closely with the product team, launching features that really help creatives and giving them tools to help creators grow on the platform,” he said.

LinkedIn recently launched its Creator accelerator program, a 10-week incubator style program, in the US and India. Selected creators work with LinkedIn, which gives them a start-up fund, software and tools to kickstart their creator career. The program will soon launch in Europe.

Meanwhile, an accompanying podcast network, debuted in February in the US, includes podcasts such as Big Technology from journalist Alex Kantrowitz and Sparked: How to Find & Do Work That Makes You Come Alive from podcaster Jonathan Fields.

Narrative and vision

Trew advised viewers that, to make B2B creator marketing work for their brand, they had to be able to navigate the more complex B2B buying process.

“B2B buying is not as simple as just convincing a single customer to buy something,” he said. “We are looking at buying units of anywhere from five to 50 different people, all of whom are going to have a different perspective, a different agenda. Then, there’s the corporate buying process, which can take anywhere from six to 24 months.”

He added that because of the added complexity of B2B buying, brands had to have both a well-developed and well-executed brand narrative and a clear idea of who they wanted to engage.

“If you've got those two things, then when it comes to the time to brief any of the creators you choose to work with, you're in a great position because you can be confident that you know what you trying to do, who you are trying to reach,” he said. “And that means everything’s going to be more effective.”

Trew explained that The Croc client Sohonet, which produces networking software for the film industry, needed to demonstrate how its technology enabled the film industry not to simply connect with one another but to realize the vision in creatives’ minds and recreate it as accurately as possible.

“‘Realize your vision’ was the core brand narrative,” he said. “We worked with two industry creators, VFX artist Clinton Jones and editor Sven Pape, who between them have 1.2 million subscribers, to see what the Sohonet product could do, what they could create with it and how it could help them achieve that vision.”

Becoming a creator

Wettstein told viewers that anyone interested in becoming a LinkedIn creator should begin by switching on creator mode.

“A lot of people don't know that this exists,” he said. “But we actually have over three million people in creator mode. It signals to us that you are interested in becoming a creator and it reshapes how content is shown on your profile so that other users can better navigate content you’ve produced in the past, making it easier to grow a following.”

He added that due to LinkedIn’s wealth of formats such as written posts, newsletters and audio, it was easier for would-be creators to find their niche and grow their audience.

Wettstein concluded the panel by passing on advice from media entrepreneur Arianna Huffington, who is also a LinkedIn creator, on micro-steps. “Start slow, you don’t have to go from zero to 100, you can start posting once a week, once a month whatever you're comfortable with,” he explained. “Set yourself small goals that you can easily achieve.”

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