The effectiveness of business influencer social media marketing

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Degree programme
60 + 3
Social media is increasingly used as a channel to gather information on products and services, and consumers have started to seek advice from the opinion leaders of social media, influencers. For today’s B2C businesses it is already common to work with social media influencers as a part of a brand’s marketing strategy, but the same can’t be said about B2B companies. The aim of this research is to explore possibilities related to using business influencers in B2B social media marketing. Companies with good reputation are perceived as more credible and trustworthy, as well as expected to deliver greater value. Through the use of business influencers B2B companies’ brand image as well as brand recall can be enhanced. Business influencers are individuals who are or wish to be opinion leaders in their own industry, have purposefully built their own professional brand and possess the authority to influence other people on some level. A vast majority of influencer or opinion leadership research is done from a B2C angle, leaving B2B research in this area close to non-existent. This study aims to contravene the research gap with a goal to understand the phenomenon in general, but to also to discuss in detail what kinds of elements play a role in making social media business influencer marketing more persuasive. The primary research question for this study is: What kind of qualities affect the performance of collaborative social media posts between business influencers and companies? Potentially significant factors were identified from existing literature and data was collected through a survey that was sent to Finnish business influencers’ Twitter followers (n=125). Quantitative methods such as factor and cluster analysis and one-way ANOVA were used to process the data. On the basis of data analysis, three distinctive groups of business influencer followers could be identified: unconverted followers, critical evaluators and true followers. The results revealed several interesting findings regarding the differences between follower groups, including that the more the follower esteems the influencer, the stronger the aroused interest toward the company or product/service. The study findings lead to several implications for businesses interested in utilising business influencer marketing. If the congruence between commercial tweets and the influencer’s usual communication themes is strong, the followers’ attitudes toward commercial tweets will also be positive. Factors such as strong perceived expertise and trustworthiness positively influence how interested followers are in what the influencer talks about, whereas external attractiveness does not play a significant role. Working with an influencer with a big fan base instead of a large quantity of followers will result in a relatively more effective campaign. All groups of followers were more interested in the featured companies in contrast to their products or services, which suggests that using business influencer marketing for brand building purposes might prove out to be fruitful.
Thesis advisor
Kajalo, Sami
influencer marketing, B2B marketing, business influencers, social media marketing, business influencer marketing
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