Speaking at Marketing Week Live! today (29 June), Kevin Eyres, managing director of LinkedIn Europe, says that companies can add professional value to their brand by pooling together groups of web users, who share a common passion, and starting discussion threads.
“Social media has been booming over recent years, and it’s important for brands to remember that it isn’t just a tool for brands to reach out to consumers, but it can also be a place where professionals can group together and discuss common threads in a meaningful manner. B2B and B2C are just as important as each other when it comes to marketing,” he says.
Eyres says that brands including Philips, HP and the IOD are using LinkedIn to test this type of engagement, known as “professional socialism”.
Hans Notenboom, global director of online marketing an communications for Philips, says they have done this to provide a community for their healthcare division customers.
“Rather than build our own community, we are using LinkedIn to pool together healthcare professionals and let them discuss common threads in a way, which we can see and help to solve their issues in a timely and sensible manner.”
Eyres says this is vital for building brand affinity and adding value to a brand amongst its professional customers, as long as the people chosen to lead discussions are widely considered as thought leaders.
Notenboom adds: “Social media shouldn’t be a one-off time limited campaign activity. It should be a total part of a brand’s online strategy, backed by a long term commitment.”
Meanwhile, O2’s customer director, Tim Sefton, also went on stage to talk about how to extend a brand without damaging its equity.
Sefton, who helped O2 win the Brand Innovator of the Year award at Marketing Week’s Engage Awards talked the audience through the process the company went through before expanding into services such as home phone, money and broadband and CSR initiatives like Think Big.
He said marketers should “be bold, brave and challenging”, adding that a great strategy involves considering the brand DNA with customer insight and internal alignment.
He also advised marketers to “set ambitious customer oriented targets and be entrepreneurial in outlook about all aspects the customer’s experience of your brand, because if you don’t someone else will.”