When you hear about influencer marketing, you might immediately envision young, attractive individuals posting pictures on Instagram that showcase an immaculately curated lifestyle while highlighting promoted products

And while this type of influencer marketing works for some businesses, types of products and brands, it doesn’t seem to make sense for others. However, that doesn’t mean that influencer strategies are totally off the table for B2B companies or other brands that might be looking for a more formal approach.

Enter LinkedIn influencers.

With over 600 million members and 300 million active users, LinkedIn is the largest professional networking site in the world. No matter your industry, you can find individuals who wield a significant amount of influence as thought leaders in their area of expertise.

In light of this, LinkedIn influencer marketing can be a game-changing addition to your overall Linkedin marketing strategy.

Ready to improve your LinkedIn influencer marketing strategy? Tagger by Sprout Social empowers marketers to drive impactful influencer marketing strategies, enabling you to grow brand presence authentically, engage with new targeted audiences and generate revenue faster.

Why LinkedIn influencers?

LinkedIn may seem like a surprising fit for influencers, considering its business-oriented niche and smaller userbase than Instagram or Facebook. Given this, why should you focus on finding LinkedIn influencers? Several reasons.

1. LinkedIn influencers have key decision makers in their audience

LinkedIn influencers are followed by CEOs, CMOs, CFOs and many other team leads and decision makers who pay close attention to what these influencers say.

When a LinkedIn influencer mentions a specific product or service, it has a direct impact on the people most likely to purchase that product or service. If you want to put your business in front of key individuals in your industry, LinkedIn is the way to go.

Amanda Pressner Kreuser, Co-founder of Masthead Media, notes:

LinkedIn is extremely popular with B2B influencers because it’s where highly educated professionals in upper management (directors, vice presidents, and C-suite officers) spend a lot of their time–and execs are using the platform to help them gather information before making buying decisions.

2. The opinions of LinkedIn influencers carry weight

What these influencers have to say tends to have a big impact and greater reach on LinkedIn compared to influencer marketing on other platforms. Here’s why. It’s relatively easy to share quick to consume content on Facebook or Instagram, like photos, memes and quotes. While that can be one route to building a following, the longer form content on LinkedIn that provokes attention tends to be stickier in the minds of its audiences.

On LinkedIn’s professional-focused network, influence, audience, and authority are built upon expertise. Users follow influencers because they constantly deliver industry insights in the form of detailed posts, articles, and videos that provoke followers’ curiosity and consideration.

Former Drift CMO Dave Gerhardt is a great example of someone who has built a platform by regularly sharing high value, expert information. Thousands of people follow him because they know they’ll get key marketing insights like the following from him:

linkedin post with advice from Dave Gerhardt on marketing

Vartika Kashyap, Chief Marketing Officer at ProofHub is another example. She has gained almost 500,000 followers on LinkedIn by constantly sharing high-value resources. Her followers look to her to curate great content for them.

LinkedIn blog repost from Vartika Kashyap

3. LinkedIn is the right fit for many brands

For many businesses, LinkedIn influencers are a much better fit with their brand than Facebook or Instagram influencers. If your brand has a more buttoned-up feel, you’ll have a much easier time finding an influencer on LinkedIn, which is geared specifically toward business professionals.

It’s also ideal for brands that are in a more complex or specialized niche, including B2B brands looking to distinguish themselves from the competition and clearly define their value proposition. When it comes to generating leads for B2B businesses, LinkedIn dominates other social networks. According to Oktopost, 80% of social media generated B2B leads come from LinkedIn. All the other social networks combined make up the remaining 20%.

Linkedin dominates in lead gen - infographic

If you want to generate leads for your B2B business, it’s hard to beat the power of LinkedIn.

How to find influencers on LinkedIn

Now for the million dollar question: how do you actually find influencers on LinkedIn? How can you identify those individuals who have the attention of a large audience? There are several ways, some easier than others.

LinkedIn influencer list

LinkedIn maintains its own influencer list which contains very high profile users of the platform. On this list you’ll find people like Melinda Gates, Adam Grant, Sara Blakely, and other well-known individuals in the business world. These people are hand-selected by LinkedIn.

linkedin top influencer list

Frankly, you can probably ignore this list when trying to find influencers to work with your business. These people are so well-known that it’s very unlikely they’ll be willing to work directly for your business (unless you’ve got millions of dollars to spend). You need to find more niche influencers.

Use search to find LinkedIn influencers

A simpler, much more practical way to find LinkedIn influencers is to manually search for them using keywords.

One option is to search for people who have specific terms in their job title or profile description, but this is a pretty tedious process. You have to click on each person’s profile, analyze how many connections or followers they have, and then look at the content they share to see if it relates to your business. Then you need to look at how many people interact with their content to see if what they share resonates with their audience.

There’s a much faster way to find relevant influencers: do a content search instead of a profile search.

For example, let’s say you’re looking for LinkedIn B2B influencers who regularly share information related to content marketing. Go to the LinkedIn search bar and type in “content marketing”. Make sure you set the filter to “Content” so that it shows you content people have posted related to the subject.

linkedin search example

You’ll then see everything related to content marketing shared by your first and second connections.

examples of linkedin keyword search results

As you scroll through the content, look for posts that have a high level of engagement, such as reactions, comments, and views (if video). A significant amount of engagement on a post suggests that the person probably has a big audience and may be an influencer you want to work with.

Once you identify a potential influencer, go to their profile and look at all their posts. If everything they share gets a lot of attention, then that person could be a great fit for an influencer in their niche.

Join LinkedIn Groups

Another way to identify influencers on LinkedIn is to join popular groups related to your industry. To find these groups, simply type in your industry or keywords related to your industry. Make sure the filter is set to “Groups”.

linkedin group search example results

Consider joining these groups and then paying attention to who posts the most consistently and whose posts get the most engagement. These individuals are potential influencers you may want to connect with.

Contacting influencers

Once you’ve identified potential influencers, the next step is to contact them to see if they might be interested in working with you.

If you’re already connected to the person on LinkedIn, you can simply message them within the platform itself. If you’re not connected with them, you can send them a very short message for free or upgrade to LinkedIn Premium, which allows you to directly message people you’re not connected with. Even though you have to pay for the service, InMail (LinkedIn’s premium messaging service) has a 300% percent higher response rate than email.

If the influencer lists their contact information on their profile, you can also reach out that way as well.

contact info on linkedin

Riding the LinkedIn wave

In many ways, LinkedIn influencer marketing is still in its infancy. Unlike Instagram and Facebook, which have become utterly saturated with influencer marketing, we’re likely to continue to see influencer strategies continue to evolve on LinkedIn.

This presents brands with unique advantages. By working with influencers now, you can command more attention at a lower price. But don’t expect this to last for long. As more and more businesses turn to LinkedIn, many users of the platform will begin to tune out promotional messages from influencers. And, as demand increases, influencers will be able to charge a premium for their services.

In light of this, you would be wise to tap into LinkedIn influencers now, rather than later.

Plan out your approach to an optimized LinkedIn presence with our free LinkedIn for business worksheet.