LinkedIn: how it can be used to improve business

LinkedIn

Marketers may be good at building their own list of contacts on LinkedIn, but few seem to be making the most of their brands’ LinkedIn accounts, despite the network having 150 million members worldwide. Only about a quarter say they regularly update their brand’s group pages, and only 14% say they provide information on them weekly or more often, according to CIM’s research.

About a third of marketers say they are just experimenting with the site and 37% say their marketing efforts through the network were not at all effective. This compares with 33% who say Facebook didn’t get results last year and 44% who weren’t happy with YouTube.

LinkedIn director for marketing solutions EMEA Josh Graff isn’t surprised that brands are still trying to work out how best to use it. He says: “This is reflective of our experience in 2011. There were some amazing success stories, but in some incidences marketers were doing it for the sake of it. For me, 2012 is the coming of age, that transitional year when marketers start to take a far more strategic approach to social.”

The best way to use LinkedIn is clearly in a business-to-business context. People generally follow two or three brands in their sector, so there is an opportunity for these businesses to build up advocates, says Graff.

HP created a group on the site to help change perceptions among smaller businesses that it supplied IT hardware only to large organisations. The business worked with LinkedIn to build a community of 6,000 members, by using the data the network has on professionals around the globe to target them at scale.

Group members are now 20% more likely to recommend HP and 75% repeatedly visit the group, according to the business network. “HP also saw a rise in metrics across its other social media which it directly attributed to its LinkedIn activity,” claims Graff.

He also says that niche groups can target people more effectively. He gives the example of Philips, which wanted to target people working in radiology and cardiology to help position it as an expert in the industry. Graff says doing this would have been more difficult through other networks and the group – Innovations in Health – now has 38,000 members.

Brands can also run polls targeted at specific groups. One is currently asking whether red tape is hindering innovation. Prime minister David Cameron has written a blog on the site linked to this, part of his

Red Tape Challenge, encouraging business people to give feedback on regulations.

For Russ Shaw, former Telefonica marketing director and general manager at Skype, LinkedIn is an effective route: “It is a low-cost, easy-to-use channel that can reach a lot of people.”

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