B2C campaigns on Facebook and other consumer social sites get more sophisticated and more entertaining every day. As brand marketers, we hear about delightful consumer campaigns involving basketball heroes, the most “interesting” men in the world, and shipping pants from here to there. And yet, while LinkedIn campaigns may lack some of the “fun factor” of those generated on Facebook, LinkedIn has quietly become just as valuable to brands marketing to professionals as Facebook is in marketing to consumers.
LinkedIn’s strategy is focused on being an essential daily resource for professionals, and it has heavily invested in the product infrastructure needed to build a serious content distribution platform, including its recent acquisitions of SlideShare and Pulse. Engaging business audiences through original content, by distributing repositories of compelling professional content from white papers to presentations to videos, is a huge opportunity for LinkedIn and B2B marketers alike. On Facebook, the content creators are primarily the social members. However, on LinkedIn, it is the forward-leading businesses and professionals creating the most interesting content.
“Old School” Websites Should Embrace “New School” Social
For years, B2B digital marketing has taken place primarily on corporate websites, microsites, and portals. But it is a continuing challenge to build networked communities on these platforms. LinkedIn marketers, conversely, have the opportunity to create content and community “homesteads.” Remember in the “old days” when American Express Open Forum became one of the most successful early B2B homesteads? Its success was due, in large part, to the enormous amount of invaluable content it produced (and continues to produce) for business professionals.
Content Cultivates Community
Similarly on LinkedIn, we are increasingly finding practical business advice from thought leaders, such as Joel Peterson, CEO of JetBlue. He has more than 8,000 LinkedIn members who read his informative (and often entertaining) career-advice posts, ranging from “How to Run Your Business Like an 11-Year-Old” to “Is Your New Hire a Star or a Diva? 3 Ways to Tell.” Joel’s posts help keep JetBlue’s name in front of potential customers, partners, employees, and prospects, and they serve as an excellent membership-retention tool for LinkedIn. This engagement strategy has contributed to a page view growth of 63 percent in Q1 2013, and year-over-year unique visitor growth of 29 percent.
Tapping Into LinkedIn’s B2B Zeitgeist
LinkedIn has another clear, yet often overlooked advantage over Facebook. People stay on LinkedIn as they move from job to job – it’s simply a “must-have” platform as a business person. It also has what one might call network staying power. If a business professional doesn’t keep her presence on LinkedIn up to date, and keep her network of connections current, her professional networking reach will degrade. And ultimately, there will be an impact – an economic one.
What does this mean for brands? It doesn’t mean moving campaigns from Facebook. Facebook still serves as the easiest online mechanism for reaching and influencing consumers en masse. But it does mean looking at what LinkedIn has to offer for reaching business consumers. There is little doubt that LinkedIn has carved out a very large and important niche for brands that want to engage with professionals of all stripes. And that’s an opportunity that’s growing.
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