From the blog

Influencer Marketing Part 2: B2B Tips from Zion Ong - Ep 47

  • Ask Alyka

22 Jun 2018

The time has come for Part 2 of our Influencer Marketing interview with Jason Steel.

This week he’s asking me (Zion) about B2B Influencer Marketing to understand how this undervalued form of marketing benefits my business, generates quality leads and makes money.

Influencer Marketing Part 2: B2B Tips from Zion Ong - Ep 47 - Transcript

Zion: Welcome to Episode number 47 of AskAlyka. Hello Jason!

Jason: Hello!

Zion: Welcome again, and mate we’re going to be doing part 2 of Influencer marketing, but we are going to be focusing on B2B Influencer marketing.

Jason: Yep, so I’m going to be asking you the questions this week.

Zion: Bring it on my friend.

Jason: So last week we spoke about Instagram, B2C, lots of direct brand selling content. This week B2B, how is it different?

Zion: Yeah okay, so the audience is different. In B2B, you're talking to business owners, CEOs, CFOs, in my industry; marketing managers of companies, but really you're talking to white collar professions, a lot of them being business owners. If you're looking to summarise it, it would change from industry to industry, but unlike B2C you aren't talking to mum and dads or the single lady that works at the hairdresser. It's very professional, very corporate. The audience is different.

Jason: What’s the best way that you reach these people?

Zion: Great question. So, really it’s where the attention is. I spent years trying to figure that out because B2B is quite different to B2C, in terms of the channels that you choose, and the attention for to B2B, local B2B in Perth anyway, is LinkedIn. A lot of professional are on LinkedIn, and not just where the attention is but I think the context is really important. Like, people are on LinkedIn are in the frame of mind where they want to connect with other business people to do business. Whether that is to buy your product or teaming up, when people are scrolling LinkedIn, one of the things they are thinking in their mind is “I want to do business with someone.” so I think LinkedIn is great. Having said that, we do use a lot of Facebook and Instagram and that for B2B Marketing as well and that does work because your audience still uses Facebook. For example, a CEO. Just because he’s a CEO will still use Facebook to look at family pics and connect with their friends. So if you get in front of him on Facebook, it’s still good. I do find though with LinkedIn I have had more direct success, but I do still think there's a big place for Facebook and other channels.

Jason:Would you say that, when you're targeting people on LinkedIn that they are mostly on LinkedIn within business hours as opposed to Instagram and Facebook where they are usually on it after hours?

Zion:I reckon it’s both. I tested it and I get a lot of engagement even at night as well, as people are still checking LinkedIn. It's almost like, from morning, from 7:30am, all the way through to 10:30pm, or 11pm, people are still using LinkedIn. I'll be getting notifications and messages and stuff well into the night. I think business people, they work hard, so at night after they put the kids to bed or whatever, they are just surfing their phone. And that’s really interesting, it’s cool.

Jason: Wow, so what’s your key objective with LinkedIn?

Zion:For us, it’s for business development and performance, getting leads, so I can make money, by getting leads on a sale. And in direct sales I’ve probably gotten over $100,000 in the last 10 months, and that’s from LinkedIn. But if you’re talking about indirect, then probably one million. Because of the activity on LinkedIn, and because it's good content that I’m putting out there and engaging with people. I'll go to a networking function and people just know me, and they become warmer leads. So in terms of direct sales I’ve probably got over $100,000 and in terms of indirect you're probably looking at over 1 million in the last 10-12 months.  So I think the ROI is amazing. So for me its sales, but for other people it might be different. It might be podcasts subscriptions, it might be newsletter sign ups, it might be collaborations, and some people just want to collaborate with other people.

Jason: So just network?

Zion:Yeah, some just want to network with other people, which will eventually lead to more sales. So t is different for everyone.

Jason: Would you say you have to have a clear goal as to where you are going straight away?

Zion: I think that’s the first to be really really really clear on, and I think that's why my strategy has been so successful, because I didn't want to just build my own network, because I already have a great network, and doing that on its own would be just pointless. At the end of the day I am a businessman and I do have to pay the bills. I actually want to make money, I want to make sales, from the start I was like I want to make sales and whatever that is going to do and whatever I am going to have to do to get that, I will do that. So, brand building and networking building are all apart of making a sale, so a big and very clear, and some people, like looking at this other guy his strategy isn't to directly get sale. He has an overall objective to get a sale, but he uses social to get followers and YouTube followers. And someone asked “Why?’ and he said “im building that brand equity on YouTube, because the people on Youtube will watch his videos for longer than on other channels”. So he focuses his whole strategy on wanting to get more followers on YouTube, and if he has that brand equity over a few years, he might be able to sell to them. So he has a different strategy from me, I’m a bit more direct. So yeah it's interesting and I think you need to be really clear on what you want.

Jason: Now you mentioned your network, your LinkedIn followers, are mostly Perth based and that's your target audience for a reason, how do you keep growing your audience and keep engaging them without boring them?

Zion:Yeah that's a great question so, so for me I have, we talk about this all the time hey Jason, content pillars. We have a content pillar to frame things around. So our content pillar is the podcast, and a lot of our content comes from the podcast. So because our content for podcasts is quite varied, like today we are talking about  Influencer marketing for B2B, next week we might talk about events marketing, the week after that we might talk about SEO, the week after that we might interview someone who is a business person. So the podcast content is quite mixed and quite varied, but it’s still an area of entrepreneurship and marketing, therefore my LinkedIn content is going to be quite varied and different, naturally.  So the answer to your question is, naturally, we vary our content to keep it interesting. And it's not a whole lot more work to do that, because, I don't want to talk about the same thing every week anyways, it will be boring for me. So my mind is constantly thinking new things, researching new things and trying new things, so naturally it's quite easy for me to talk about different content. The other thing is, trying different types of content delivery. I've tried video, still pictures, selfies, and am constantly mixing it up. I find it quite fun, and because I find it fun I find it real easy to do.

Jason: What do you think your followers, or your network, expect from you?

Zion: I think they expect funny, entertaining and a little bit out there. I think that's what they expect now. I fact, I’ll go to networking functions and they are always asking about what's the next post, and that they always want another song. I use songs quite a bit in my content strategy so they are expecting songs, wanting songs, and they are also expecting other forms of other funny videos. They're not really expecting educational videos, but educational videos I find bring the most leads. I did an educational video recently and got invited to a pretty big job and I find that even though they don't get as much reach, or even engagement, they will actually get you leads. So it's just interesting.

Jason: So people are expecting your funny videos, you’re more authentic content. So how do you connect with those people? So you've got their attention, but how are you going to connect with them?

Zion: Yeah so, I do connect with them. The content I produce is so cool, so for example a video I did of a song that I did. I redid the Shawn Mendes song “I’ll Treat You Better”.

Jason: I still have that song stuck in my head sometimes.

Zion: Well yeah that’s the point! I changed the words to how I would treat you better as an agency, as a digital provider, I’ll treat you better than a current provider, because I’m just a better person. Wrote the song, changed the words, and people loved it, people went crazy. Sorry what was the question again?

Jason: So how do you connect with them, get their attention, how do you pull them in?
Zion: Sorry ADD mind blank. So I got their attention through that, get piece of content. And then people started posting crazily on it, on my LinkedIn for example. And I would respond to every single one of them. Like and respond.

Jason:That's very important.  

Zion: I do say to people you have to respond. If you don’t, it’s a little bit rude. It’s like someone saying hi to you, and you not saying hi back. That's how I see it and how serious I take it and I’ll literally panic if I realise I forget to reply to someone. So I connect with them and then have some ongoing conversations with some of them in there. If we want to keep the conversations going I’ll go private and keep the conversation. So I have a few relationships with people on LinkedIn. The other thing with LinkedIn is its very you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. So get a people of content, it gets engagement, you respond to people's comments, but then you continue certain conversations with different people. And then what happens is it’s like you write this written agreement where they will like your content if you do it to theirs.  You'd know that by doing it on Instagram. But then going forward, you just cross road each others content. And LinkedIn works like this where if someone likes some of your content, and then their friends will see that content and then you'll get more reach. So that's really important and I do a lot of that, but I need to do more.

Jason: What would you say are your biggest lessons learnt from your content?

Zion: Well things like generic content is not great. I used to talk a lot about business but not necessarily sell what I’m doing, or talk about what my industry is. I remember talking to Janine, who is a very big LinkedIn influencer, she's a financial advisor/broker and she crushes it on LinkedIn. She's got 22,000 followers plus, heaps of engagement. One post will get 400 likes and 100 comments. I asked for her advice and she told me you've just got to talk about what you do, your industry, educate people on your industry and you're topic, which is digital marketing. Don't beat around the bush and make it too generic. So I did that, and it worked. So before I was getting good reach and engagement with businesses with generic content, but people don't know what you do so you won’t get a lead. So going back to your objective, your objective is a lead. That would be pretty direct from your content. So I started doing more educational content, and it’s been working. Even the “Ill treat you better video” that got me 4 leads, or 5 leads, I mean that was about digital marketing.

Jason:Yeah exactly. So what do you, actually I’ll ask that question next. But going back to what Janine said about being specific about the content for your industry, were you initially afraid to make yourself more niche? Or what sort of challenges did you have when you had to change your direction?

Zion:Yeah so the challenges, sometimes it’s not as fun. Like I enjoy business sometimes more than I like the topic of digital marketing. Like I love digital marketing but only because it creates business. So talking about business, generic business stuff, I could talk about that all day.  I could make funny videos about it, write poems about it-

Jason:You could sing about it

Zion: I could sing about it! It’s much easier.

Jason:You could rap about it!

Zion: I could rap about it! I actually wrote a few raps, I’ve actually got a few raps in my iPhone. But that isn't going to get you the dough, that isn't going to get you the business. Whereas digital marketing, if you are talking about that, it will. But, he challenge is, yes I find it exciting, but it’s not as easier to quickly get the content out. So that's probably the biggest challenge.

Jason: how did you bubble wrap your ego the first time you uploaded a singing video.

Zion: Bubble wrap my ego?

Jason:  As in like, how did you stop yourself from being self conscious about it and being like, I’m just going to put it out there, it’s there, I’m proud of it.

Zion:I think just looking at the end goal. Look, my objective in the end is to make money. Right? And I will do whatever; people will either love the video or hate the video. And like, I’m 35 now, so I’m kind of over that stage where I’m worried about what people think. Like if you got me at 25, id be freaking out and then if people hated it I would be off crying about it in the corner in the fetal position. And if people love it I would get a huge head and think I’m amazing. And now I’m at a point where I don't care at all. I’m secure with myself, business is doing well. Kind of doing it more for fun if anything.

Jason: What’s your measure of success on a post then? Is it 100 likes? Obviously a lead is like perfect, but superficially, when you look at a post what makes you go “yep, that one did well”?

Zion:Yeah that's the thing, it's not always about direct leads. I keep saying this to people, that in the next ten months and the rest coming, it would be very narrow minded for me to measure the success of a post just on a lead. That's the wrong way to look at it. You have to at least look at it over the span of a year. I see more than reach. I see it more as engagement as an indicator. Like how many people are liking and commenting. Commenting is probably the ultimate. Like if people really really like something and appreciate something, they are going to comment.  So I know if something is going well, I am getting awesome engagement. I'm actually more interested in that than the reach. If you can get both, awesome. If you can get one, probably the depth of just engagement. So yeah, that's your simple answer. Engagement.

Jason: I’m the same. Like I constantly crack at least 1000 likes. But every time I see 1000 I’m like “Yes, I’ve done it again!”.  Then when I see 20 comments I’m like “well that's okay”, but if I see 50 or more I’m like “Yes! This is what I want”

Zion: Well it means so much more doesn't it?

Jason: Yeah so much more! And if people looking or aspiring to be influencers or want to get a bit more interesting and grow their accounts, that's what they are looking at too. It’s like wow people comment, and that's so much more valuable.   

Zion: Yeah like I’ve known people to have like 20,000 twitter followers to 60,000 twitter followers, or whatever, but hardly any engagement. Then we talk about over the last 2 years, what business has it brought in and they say nothing. If you aren't doing it just for fun then why are you doing it at all if that's your return?  So engagement is really important.

Jason: Yep, cool. What are some tips for people wanting to become influencers in the B2B space?  

Zion:Firstly, be specific with your objective. What are you actually doing? That sounds like an easy question, but for me.

Jason:It's really hard!

Zion: Yeah it's really hard isn't it?  You get lost I think, you get caught up in the numbers game, like you are like “oh I should have 20,000 followers by now, but even I think I should have. But then I’m like why? What's your objective? Is it just to get followers for the sake of it? So if your objective is purely followers it's fine. But if your strategy was completely different, it would be all about reach, and not about engagement or leads. So I think, being very clear is essential to a podcast, it’s essential for a blog. And the second thing is, no matter the objective I think it’s about being real. Don't sound like a robot. There are a lot of things on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Snapchat at the moment where you get a person talking in front of a camera and they sound like a robot.

Jason: They're afraid.

Zion:Exactly, they're afraid and they are reading off a script. People just switch off and they are not real. Humans want vulnerability, they want honesty, and they want transparency and so on, and someone not to be afraid to be themselves. I tell people if you're an urban type person, be that person. If you're a hipster, be the hipster. If you're corporate, be corporate. Just be honest. So that's number one. Number two is, I talked about this before, but educational videos talking about your topic. Whether that's manufacturing, whether you're an accountant or a lawyer, do more of that. It really allows people to see you as the authority. Keep it short and snappy. Educational blog articles are also quite good. I think they are underrated. You know what I mean?

Jason: Yes! I think so too. I actually enjoy looking at LinkedIn articles sometimes too.

Zion: They are actually pretty good!

Jason: Like I’m not a very big LinkedIn user, and ill connect with everyone that’s in my immediate circle, like you and other people at work, but other people outside of work it’s all things that I’m just interested in and industry related. And that's how I get a lot of the insights into things. I just see what they are posting and check out articles and stuff. I like when LinkedIn articles aren't too long, because then it's kind of like a blog post. They find a fine line between a blog and an article. So I don't think people appreciate the value a LinkedIn article as much as they should.

Zion: I agree, and I think with blog articles, especially with LinkedIn articles, I don’t have the exact stats in front of me to back it up but, I do think that you might not get as much reach as a video, but the people that do look at your content are going to read a lot of your articles, they are going to get a lot more out of it, so more depth. And that can lead to some really good business. So for example, my insurance agent friend, he does insurance and business insurance, so not even B2B its B2B. So his target audience is people in the construction industry, construction CEOs, and he shared an article, he didn't even write an article, he shared an article on construction insurance or construction contracts or something to look out for with construction contracts. He actually won a $200,000 job from that one post and share.

Jason: Yep, just one click and $200,000!

Zion:Yeah, and the guy actually, a guy that owns a construction company, actually reached out to him and said “hey we should catch up and go for a coffee” and that lead to a sale, not a lead a sale! That's just from blogging on LinkedIn. So you can imagine if you consistently do it and you become really good at it, get a following and do all the other things you're supposed to do, you can generate some good business out of it. Especially if you're in a dry industry. I think the drier the industry the better actually because the more you can stand out.

Jason: Yeah exactly. It’s when your authentic content comes into play really.  

Zion:Like we have the advantage as marketers as being able to make awesome videos which are pretty and fancy. But there's so much noise out there. It's hard to stand out. I say to people; if you're in a dry industry, embrace it.  

Jason: So cool, that's your advice. But what about expectations? What should people expect from wanting to become an influencer in B2B respects?

Zion:It just takes time. You need to really hussle. You really need to take the time to make it work. Like I always get people who want to build great businesses, do really well online and have leads come to them instead of having to door knock all the time. I say to them, well if you really want to do it, firstly, pay me, or if you want to get faster results, spend two to three, or one to two hours, a day engaging with people, teaming up with people.

Jason: Yeah that's the commenting, liking. Its small, all it is commenting and liking.

Zion: Yeah and that's what you do on Instagram. That's part of the reason why you succeeded, part of the reason I’m succeeding, and I just find that people don't want to do that. But say if you went and did that for say two to three years, the brand equity you build after two to three years is phenomenal. The things you can do with your brand and the things you can sell through your brand at that point is phenomenal. The work does not increase, it actually decreases. What you actually have to do decreases. But the first two to three years I reckon if people can just hussle and spend that time every day, it gets easier after a while but the initial bit is always hard. You know what I mean?

Jason: Yeah and suppose that it’s kind of people get a bit discouraged if after six months they don't see any growth or no leads are in the door. Or they might expect too much too soon.

Zion: Yeah I think people expect too much too soon. Also, there's a book that Seth Godin wrote called “The Dip”. It’s this thing where you start something, you start a project, it could be a podcast or could be SEO or could be this stuff, influencer marketing and the people who are really excited at the start to do it for three months, then it gets hard, they are set back, and they give up. The tipping point is where people give up, whereas if they just pushed through for another few months they would be able to see some traction.

Jason: Yeah that's where you learn your lessons.

Zion: Yeah exactly that's where you learn your lesson. Just imagine if you on Instagram and if you gave up within the first six months, and look at you now and how much you've grown.

Jason:Yeah even just the money. Think about all the money I wouldn't have made. Oh damn.

Zion:You just lost that because you couldn't handle the pressure in the first few months. The expectations.

Jason:Yeah and like after, like you said after a couple of years, the work you do and engagement time decrease.

Zion:It does! It's easier.

Jason: I’m probably in a bit of a dip myself, well an organisation dip. I used to engage with people quite regularly whereas now I’m doing it in bursts. So like I’ll do last week’s posts tonight for example, I’ll comment on all 3 posts and spend an hour on it. That's not the right way to do it because more people will comment and I’m already behind and I’m losing touch with them. So I think like you say going back and pushing through every day is what should happen. I think consistency is also the key to anything you do on social media, even B2B, you need to be consistent. Consistency is always important.

Zion: That brings me to my next point. Consistency is very important. Also because of the way the algorithms work. So I got a message from a LinkedIn influencer who is quite big, he’s a photographer. Bruno.

Jason: Oh yeah.

Zion:Yeah, and he's really good on LinkedIn and in general with what he does. He was just saying that he was helping me out by commenting on my posts. He hadn’t been active for a while, in over a week.

Jason: He's in the dip! The engagement dip!

Zion: LinkedIn will penalise him for that. If you don't post for a long period of time, and a long period of time on LinkedIn is like a week for example, then each post you do isn't going to be shown as much. So that's interesting. It just means that the more consistent you are, the more you're going to be seen, and the more successful you are.        

Jason: Exactly. And that doesn't mean you have to go and post every day, you just have to do something that is sustainable. So if that's twice a week, maybe 3 times a week, whatever you can keep at.

Zion: Yeah you said that the other week, that it’s the same on Instagram. Like if you don't post for two weeks it's like BOOM.

Jason: Yeah, shame on you!

Zion: Instagram are going to push you down.

Jason: Yeah and once Bruno is through that, hopefully he pays attention and listens to the podcasts of us and is like “cool, I’ve got to find that I’m going to post once a week, or post two”.

Zion: Oh he's better than us. He's all over LinkedIn. He's one of the biggest in Perth. He knew it. He was just like “I’ll help you out”. So he's crushing it. But that's just an example. What was the other thing? Oh don't be afraid to spend, wait sorry before that. Selfies are pretty good. Like if you take selfies with prominent people that have a following. Like I took a selfie with a person who had 18,000 followers at the time and made $30,000. A $33,000 or $35,000 sale for me from that one selfie. The other lesson is put call to actions in some of your posts. So that selfie, my friend actually put a link to our website, and that's actually where the person found us from. The last thing I think is, don't be afraid to pay money now days to actually boost your posts, and the case for LinkedIn is to don't be afraid to pay for LinkedIn ads, Facebook ads, Instagram ads who are hosting as well because these days it’s different. Its pay to play. You aren't going to be seen as much if you don't pay. It's still cheap, like you’re talking about a couple of hundred bucks.  

Jason: Yeah it's not. Like I don't do it on Instagram because my objective is different. But doing it for clients here, if they don’t boost their content they are just wasting their time. It’s not going to go anywhere.

Zion:Yeah like it’s beautiful content that's been created but it’s not going to get seen.

Jason: It’s such a shame. All that content all those hours, billable hours too, down the drain.

Zion: Yeah and boosts can be as little as $50.

Jason: Sometimes even $25. It’s nothing.

Zion: Compared to what you get for it. But there's a few tips.    

Jason:Yeah that's good. What about tips on growing your audience?

Zion: Yeah, so I have someone now who adds people for me. I used to add people myself. I’d send it to Perth people mainly, people who have influence in their company; general managers, operational managers, CFOs, CEOs, business owners. We add those people on a daily basis. Here’s your target. I don't want to just add people, but I want to engage with them as well. I need to do a better job of this but when I add people I want to talk to them as well and like their posts. So two things. One, adding people either yourself or getting someone to do that for you, and also engaging with their posts or through direct message. Also, using some tools that can bulk add people. If you have a mailing list, use a tool that will import that list into Mailchimp, and it will add those people on your behalf. And creating awesome content so people start adding you. So I create some really awesome content, teamed up with some influencers on LinkedIn, and then I had hundreds of people trying to connect with me from just that one post.       

Jason: Which is all how the cogs turn I guess. It's all organic reach.

Zion: Yeah exactly.

Jason: People liking your posts. Seeing what you're doing, wanting to know more.

Zion: Yeah so that's the other way.

Jason: Yep wow, a lot of information in there. Hope everyone had their notepads ready.

Zion: Yeah it's pretty specific.

Jason: Well if you're still listening, which you should be, get excited for next week's podcast. Not going to let anything out but it's pretty exciting.

Zion: Yeah it will be won't it? Interviewing somebody cool, so stay tuned. It's a Perth business, and was on Shark Tank recently. Whoops we let that out. So have a wonderful day everyone, and a wonderful week, a wonderful working week. Wish you all the best.

Jason: See you next week.

You can follow Jason here -

If you have any questions for me (Zion) get in touch below