To Microsoft, LinkedIn is as important a content marketing tool as its own website, technical evangelism lead at the technology firm, Sarah Vaughan, revealed yesterday.
Speaking at a roundtable event alongside LinkedIn’s co-founder Allen Blue, regional managing director Cliff Rosenberg and APAC senior director of marketing solutions Olivier Legrand, Vaughan said the platform provides a means to make Microsoft, a brand that touches so many audiences, relevant to individuals.
“Our LinkedIn group [created to target developers] gives us a way to make our brand real for a very specific subset of our audience… we can engage in a way deliberately about them more than the big Microsoft which is about everything to everybody,” Vaughan said.
With many B2B marketers still feeling their way on LinkedIn, the business social network highlighted its high penetration among Australian professionals – 65% have created a profile – and pointed to its analytics and targeting capabilities.
According to Legrand, 32% of APAC LinkedIn members follow company pages and a further 41% indicate interest in doing so in the future. There is an expectation from members on LinkedIn to be approached by brands and to have conversations with them, he said, with inclusion in a community of like-minded professionals and keeping up with company updates the most common reasons for following a brand.
The most common questions LinkedIn gets from marketers are around how put a strategy in place using its framework. The winning strategy, Legrand said, is one that leverages the synergies of the network’s push-based methods – display ads, content ads, inbox messages and polls – and pull approaches – groups and company pages.
“There are two layers to it,” Legrand said. “The ‘always on’ strategy and how do I manage regular engagement, which is really the pull part, and then how do I plug into this always on strategy with tactical campaigns for product launches or seasonality.”
“The winning strategy is a combination of both – leveraging the ability to keep the engagement and the conversation going, and extract business intelligence from it, and the ability to attract and present the right audience with the right product at the right time.”
Vaughan added that the pull part is the foundation, required to create a value exchange that gives the brand permission to contact users with push messages.
Microsoft found the developers group it set up successful by making the group all about developers, instead of all about Microsoft, and adding value to the group’s members with the brand in the background.
The success of an email push campaign executed by the company was boosted dramatically by sending it from a respected team member as opposed to directly from the organisation. “Receiving a message from an entity or a company versus receiving a message from someone makes a huge difference,” Legrand noted. “When there is an individual behind the message it is much more human – the connection and the advocacy you can build is greater.”
Talking about future plans for the social network, Blue added that the aim is to build a content product that will have a focussed experience around specific industries or around companies, to provide professionals with the information they need. In the future it is envisaged the service will be used to help decide who it is best to do business with, whether that be finding a social media agency with the right experience or getting feedback on what the best hosting provider is.
The network also expects to head in a similar direction as Facebook in terms of mobile usage, with 22% of its traffic already coming through its mobile app.