LinkedIn has always been the social media channel that’s all about business—professionals talking to professionals. Yet, brands have only awakened in the last year or so to the potential of the wide-ranging and extended conversations they could be having with LinkedIn’s elite membership, beyond the standard search for job candidates.
Now that they have, many are seeing the real possibilities with a channel that can segment its audience by job title and industry. LinkedIn was already the acknowledged top recruiting platform. In the last couple of years, it has morphed into a business social network, a news platform and a site for the display of original content. LinkedIn is now responsible for a staggering 64 percent of all visits from social media channels to corporate websites, according to a study of some 2 million monthly visits to 60 corporate websites by marketing researcher econsultancy.
Here are two statistics every brand should keep in mind:
- 60 percent of LinkedIn members say they are as interested in engaging with industries as they are with their own professional networks
- 53 percent say they are as interested in engaging with specific companies as with their networks
The platform is becoming a center for high-level discussions on business and social issues that matter to brands with people who are influencers among consumers and within business. This is a channel where users, looking for fodder for discussions with other members, want to engage with brands and receive unfiltered news from companies. Where consumers often have an instinctive aversion to engaging with brands—even when they’re looking to buy something—business professionals spend a lot of their “social” time looking for companies with which to engage that reflect their long-term goals.
Here, the engagement is brand to professional, rather than brand to random consumer, which requires a different kind of thought leadership content than on channels where the social in social media is taken more literally. On LinkedIn, a brand is more likely to engage with a person who is knowledgeable about both its industry and its competitors. These are often more like expert consumers. They are people who not only want to engage with brands in a timely fashion; they are people who tend to need to engage with them. It really can be likened to B2B marketing as opposed to B2C.
So while a brand may still want to go to Twitter for breaking news (at least for now), it needs to also consider its need to influence the people who will then help spread that news and who in the great scheme of things are more likely to be heeded. That’s where LinkedIn comes in. It isn’t about immediacy, but more about relationship building with people who need to be within any brand’s network.
Social engagement today demands a targeted approach, made possible by a wealth of data and intelligence that underscores not only where audiences are geographically, sociodemographically—and in LinkedIn’s case, professionally. It also requires an analysis of the channels themselves based on the type of engagement each offers. Shareaholic, for instance, looked at interaction with links shared socially and found that LinkedIn beat out Twitter and Facebook on the average time spent on site and average pages per visit.
For programs developed by PR agencies, where the focus is using owned and paid to develop ongoing earned engagement, LinkedIn gives us the ability to create entire lifecycle programs from awareness to business engagement.
One effective approach for many clients whose communities thrive on LinkedIn is to build business newsrooms and place LinkedIn at the center of not only the brand’s social ecosystem, but also leverage LinkedIn as the main community and news distribution channel.
The key to understanding channels and how to use them is to recognize the expectations and motivations of the various audiences at any given moment. While the focus has in recent years been all about generating content, it may be better for brands to define the type of engagement they seek and then pick the channel and customized content most likely to provide it.