How Small Online Communities Are Delivering Big Brand Results With B2B Influencer Marketing

June 05, 2023

By Lane Ellis

How can small online communities help large B2B brands deliver big-time results?

When marketers tap into the power of B2B influence, relatively little digital communities transform into hotbeds of brand storytelling, sharing, and new connections.

Let’s take a look at the cyclical nature of online communities, and the changing ways that B2B marketers are using industry subject matter experts to get the most from these often-overlooked digital venues for growing business.

1 — Internet Forums: From the BBS to Web & Social & Back Again

Online communities started out small, primarily because few people owned home computers, and even fewer had modems to go online.

When I got my first 300-baud modem and eventually started operating a computer bulletin board system (BBS) nearly 40 years ago in 1984, I set up a message forum that included some 20 separate topical discussion areas where people who called in could share information in the form of messages.

Even then and in that very simple format, people formed niche groups to share information relevant to others interested in the same topics.

When the Web came along in 1993 and 1994, online communities began to grow larger, with the type of more centralized online locations that bulletin board systems couldn’t match.

The push was on to ever-larger communities, especially with the later rise of social media platforms that made audiences of hundreds of millions of people possible. Our client LinkedIn recently celebrated its twentieth anniversary, having topped the 930 million member mark, and our CEO Lee Odden — along with other top B2B marketing industry leaders — recently shared thoughts as LinkedIn reflected on its first 20 years, in “Marketing Leaders Reflect on 20 Years of LinkedIn.”

Along the way, as community sizes skyrocketed, some social media mega-forums became so large that it wasn’t long before a shift back to smaller and much more focused and niche communities was underway — whether in the form of special interest groups on large social platforms or private brand or industry-specific communities.

This return to smaller and more specialized communities has been made possible by the vast worldwide increases in Internet adoption, allowing micro-communities to form in highly specialized areas.

2 — B2B Influence & The Growing Power of Community

B2B brands have increasingly turned to influencer marketing, and a primary reason why has been the ability of influencers in niche areas of expertise to share brand solutions that are genuinely relevant to the people in related micro-communities.

Micro-communities are typically places where influencers have already established a reputation as subject matter experts, including many digital hangouts such as:

  • Public and private LinkedIn and other social media platform groups
  • Reddit communities and subreddits
  • Discord channels
  • Slack channels
  • Public and private brand message forums

These are only a sampling of the ever-growing number of small online communities, as new social platforms continually launch and rise in popularity, while others lose favor and wind down.

Private communities are also thriving in today’s B2B landscape, as Justin Levy, senior director of influencer marketing and head of community at …read more

Source:: Top Rank Blog