B2B marketing: are we all potential opinion leaders?

Are we all potential opinion leaders in B2B? Bruno Fridlansky answers in the affirmative. According to him, this holds true not only for digital media but also in real life. Bruno emphasises the aspects that will resonate with those of us who have worked as clients or consultants. The rest of us can benefit from his experience through these tips.

B2B marketing: are we all potential opinion leaders?

All potential opinion leaders
Are we all potential opinion leaders in B2B? Social selling expert Bruno Fridlansky answers in the affirmative. Go for it, then!

Bruno is a leading social selling expert in B2B and especially on LinkedIn and is the author of a number of books on the subject. I have interviewed him on this topic of opinion leadership, of which he is a seasoned expert.

Bruno defines for us who is an opinion leader: “You are an opinion leader from the moment you can speak and there is an audience to listen to you, read you and”, here’s the crucial thing, “enter into a conversation with you”.

This audience may not agree with you, but the conversations you have with them will allow you to convey your vision and showcase expertise.

The notion of expertise is essential for B2B opinion leaders, and when it comes to conversations, he rightly explains that one must talk in terms of the “community” and not the audience.

Here is his full interview captured unmasked and unfiltered during one of his visits to the Visionary Marketing premises  in Paris.

Influence versus opinion leadership

Influence is a word which is somewhat overused today in all sorts of ways, whether it’ s B2C or B2B. In a certain way, it could be described as a purchase of human space.

The thought leader is not there to sell directly, but to share ideas, pass on projects, and get employees and partners to buy them

B2B opinion leaders bring together a complete ecosystem. They facilitate the discussion and sharing of ideas.

B2B opinion leaders

Thought leadership allows for sharing of information and engaging in a conversation. It has a bidirectional dimension that influence rarely does, because influence is when someone tries to impact others, without themselves being impacted by them. In other words, a good influencer is someone who also knows how to be influenced.

A good influencer is someone who also knows how to be influenced

Opinion leadership, for whom?

To properly implement opinion leadership in organisations, senior management must show the way, and show that employees are trusted and allowed to take on the role of B2B opinion leaders on behalf of their company.

Management must now accept that their employees can speak for the organisation ation. Employees are the best ambassadors for a brand. But for this to happen, they should have a certain amount of freedom to speak and more importantly the confidence and conviction of management backing them up.

Opinion leadership and expertise

Everyone is already an opinion leader, whether you have one, two or three people listening to or reading you, or thousands

Each B2B opinion leader tends to speak to a specific audience. “If I am a CRM expert and I engage in conversations, I will take on the role of opinion leader for people who are interested in this subject,” explains Bruno.

In order to earn street cred, it is fundamental to adopt good practices, good reflexes, multiply the points of contact with the audience, and above all, be a role model.

B2B thought leaders must be exemplary to be credible

If I engage with people on a certain topic, I have to substantiate the credibility on my publishing spaces, personal spaces, social networks, and blogs, and demonstrate that I know what I am talking about.

What does it take to be an opinion leader?

It is imperative that one develops an expertise in the subject one wants to engage with one’s audience. The opinion leader must be able to take a step back, structure her thoughts and get her messages across. Make it playful and explanatory while sharing expertise on a subject in B2B. It will enable the expert to be recognised as an opinion leader and allow her readers to progress.

There must exist a match between the subject in which you want to be identified as an opinion leader and the audience you engage with. This will ensure validation and relevance of what you bring to the table.

Opinion leadership and coaching

To be qualified as an opinion leader, one needs to be accompanied to overcome a certain glass ceiling. It is through coaching that you will be able to perform better and focus on the message you have to get across rather than just the way you voice it.

Is liberating opinion risky?

Sure enough, there is a risk in empowering one’s staff to be thought leaders and exposing them as preys to greedy head hunters. But if you do not support them to be better opinion leaders for your company, the risk is even greater.

Anyway, they are already present on social networks. They already have their CVs on LinkedIn. They are already being headhunted. If the company does not support them, it does not get any benefit from the digital presence of its employees.

You have to support employees to be better. It even becomes a competitive advantage because you give them a dimension that will go beyond their job, you give them professional visibility, and you give meaning to their job at the same time

From audience to community

The difficult part is to stand out from the crowd in the way you propose your ideas, build them and above all get your audience on board. In doing so, you must strive to nurture a community.

An audience listens to you, a community engages with you

An audience is people who listen to you, a community is people who engage with you, and the opinion leader needs his community to engage with him to make an impact.

Engaging with one’s community

To create empathy, you have to get people involved. It is a mutual commitment. You have to speak your community’s language while avoiding jargon as much as possible. You have to make yourself accessible to your community in order to get your message across.

Opinion leadership is still in its infancy. Most leaders are not present on the digital media platforms that allow them to get their vision widely shared. They should endeavour to stay connected to their entire business ecosystem.

If they’re not there, they will leave room for their competitors, and if no one is there, then there’s plenty of space to get into.

And Bruno cheerfully concludes “Go for it!” Do not hesitate any longer and you too can become a B2B opinion leader.

Yann Gourvennec
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