The Becca Taylor AMA is happening on 3rd October 2018 at 10:00AM PST (1:00PM EST)
Becca Taylor manages Influencer Marketing Programs at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and has 20 years of experience in the IT industry, and 10 years in B2B social and influencer marketing. She drives programs that foster influencer relationships through authentic brand interactions. Becca is passionate about creating unique and valuable experiences for influencers and business stakeholders alike. Follow Becca on Twitter @BeccaTaylor or LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/beccataylor).
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Becca Taylor is Senior Marketing Manager at Hewlett Packard.
I’ll dive into answers soon but first should clarify: I work for Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Back in 2015, the company known as Hewlett-Packard split into HP Inc. (where all the consumer tech went, like laptops and printers) and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (where all of the data center solutions and technology services went). So, I’m on the HPE side of the business, focused on B2B customers.
Can you give us an example of an influencer you’ve worked with successfully? And how did you define success?
Sure! I should start by saying we’ve concentrated our efforts for much of the last nine years on micro-influencers. So, these are practitioners in enterprise technology–people who manage systems in data centers, programmers, etc.
I’m curious to know how you go about selecting influencers for HP particularly – like Lebron James doesn’t necessarily come to mind. Who and how do you go about this at a high level?
Great question! Influencer selection in B2B often looks very different than in the consumer space. To your point, Lebron James doesn’t immediately seem like someone who could influence companies to invest in thousands of dollars of data center equipment. I mentioned in a previous response that we focus almost exclusively on micro-influencers–people under 100K followers, often for us, they’re under 50K or even 25K followers. That’s because our customer communities tend to be much smaller and more insular. And we want influencers who can help our customers understand how to use our technology and WHY they’d want to use it. We rely very much on the principle of finding “people like me” that our customers can identify with.
Do you have a B2B influencer strategy at HP and if so, what would be your top recommendations to implement it?
I focus entirely on B2B, so yes! When you’re looking to start a B2B influencer program, make absolutely sure you’ve set expectations on what you want to accomplish. Want social reach? You’ll need to find influencers with large followings. Want niche coverage? You’ll likely want to work with micro-influencers. So your goal should absolutely drive how you structure your program.
How would you recommend jumpstarting an influencer program for a content-forward e-commerce?
Just START. I think people are still a little wary of influencer marketing. Let’s be honest, the influencer marketing function hasn’t gotten the greatest press lately. But the great thing about IM is that you can start with just one part-time person, or you can launch it with an entire team and giant budget. Big or small, you can make something happen. Get to know who the influencers are in your space. You don’t need to have an expensive tool to start–just use search and social media to see who’s talking about the topics that are most important to your business. Follow those influencers, engage with them online, SHARE their content without any expectation of return. This business is all about relationships–so introduce yourself and think about how you could work together in ways that will benefit you both.
- Influencer marketing? What’s that?! If I know a fair bit about the channels (IG, YouTube, etc.) but know nothing about how to build, engage, price, and analyze the success of an influencer marketing campaign, how do I start?
- Best tools for the job?
- Any thoughts on the most valuable channel on which to be an influencer right now?
What’s IM? That’s a big question. For my work at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, I define an influencer as, “A person who, through creating content and it being consumed, affects the opinions of peers within a community around a certain topic.” So influencer marketing is how you build relationships with those influencers to create value for your business.
Tools are coming out of the wood work these days! You can get a good start with only gumption and Google. But when you need to scale a program to work with many influencers, you’ll probably want to start looking at Influencer Relationship Management platforms.
Channel value is very much driven by industry and customer. If you’re in travel or beauty, you want to be on Instagram. In my space of enterprise technology, blogs and podcasts are often the most valuable. So that value varies a lot.
What do you use to manage relationships with influencers and to find new influencers? There’s a variety of software tools available, but maybe you all have your own or just stick to good ole’ Excel?
We’re a big company, and I’ve been running this program for the better part of nine years… and Excel still rules the roost. I gotta be real. But as we’ve tried to determine how we can scale, tools like Traackr and Onalytica have become very useful. By scale I mean 1) maintaining relationships with more influencers and 2) driving value through more of our business.
What does the influencer marketing team at HP look like? Can you help us to understand the scale and effort that you & the team at HP put into influencer marketing? Are you able to quantify the results from your efforts?
I am a team of one full time employee and one contractor. We’re small and scrappy! However, we partner with MANY stakeholders throughout our organization to execute on engagements. And YES! Quantifying results is SOOOO important. And could be a day-long chat in and of itself. My advice is this: look for multiple ways you can prove contribution to your business. In the B2B space, tracking direct revenue impact can be very, very difficult. So look for ways your influencer engagements can help your content team, demand gen team, product team, and so on.
What are your thoughts on all the ABM hype? Is it a strategy you find valuable or applicable with influencer marketing?
I this question! ABM has a role. Or maybe I should say, I think there’s a role that influencer marketing can play in ABM. When I think about the best way to nurture your important customers/accounts, content from people your customers identify with is critical. SO many studies show that customers do not trust brands–so nurture your customers along their buying journey by connecting with the influencers who can tell your story. Hope that answered your Q!
What are the most important B2B influencer marketing tools you use, and why?
Honestly? Gut instinct and heart. Whether you’re in consumer marketing or B2B marketing, influencer marketing is all about relationships. So much of what I do as an influence marketer relies on creating good will and trust with both the influencers I engage with and the business stakeholders I do that on behalf of.
But seriously, even though this is a very human-driven discipline, it’s business, right? So we need tools that help us define and discover influencers, measure their impact, and communicate that impact to our stakeholders. A day in the life for me, as far as tools go: search engines and IRM (influencer relationship management) tools to help me stay on top of what our influencers are writing about, Excel for crunching data from various sources and PowerPoint & email to communicate for reporting results.
How specifically does HP work with influencers? Are you primarily doing sponsorships, or are you working in other ways with influencers. What types of programs and campaigns?
We try to mix our formats up as much as possible. The world of enterprise technology isn’t always sexy and exciting. Unless you just love to geek out over data center networking or storage. But even for those who do like to geek out over our products, I don’t want them to think we’re boring! We bring influencers to events–our own and others in the industry. We host what we call HPE Tech Days, which are small events at our company sites to show off our latest technology. We also have an invitation-only community for the influencers who work with us–that way they can choose when and how they learn about new HPE content, share our content and each other’s content, and sign up for briefings (educational sessions with our experts). One thing we’re really trying to keep our eye on is the long play–how can we craft influencer experiences that go beyond just a campaign or an event. So we’re trying to find ways that over a year or more, we’re providing influencers with multiple opportunities to learn and engage and create content.
I’m curious if you see any overlap between influencer marketing and analyst relations (Gartner, Forrester, etc.), as the relationship building feels similar.
SOOOOOO much! From the get-go, we’ve tried to make sure that our influencer programs complement what our analyst relations (AR) team does. Our AR team is chartered to work with the Gartner and IDC type analysts. But what we’ve found over the last couple of years especially, is that there are more and more boutique analyst firms that use what I’d dub hybrid analysts–they operate like those traditional big-house analysts, but they behave like influencers. So they think and talk like analysts, but they have the larger platforms that we see in influencers. So we keep lines open between our team and the AR team to make sure one of us is engaging those hybrid analysts, and that the other knows we’re doing it. Did that answer your Q?