It began life as a platform purely aimed at professionals and businesses looking to engage with other professionals. Like a networking event that never ends, has no specific venue, and boasts a guestlist of millions, each with their own skillset, ideas and plans.
But whilst LinkedIn’s usefulness in terms of forming valuable B2B relationships has come under fire in recent years thanks to the number of ‘you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours’ endorsements, and contacts that never really communicate, there’s an emerging trend of marketers using this platform to target consumers. And it would seem to be gathering serious momentum all the time.
To give you some idea of the figures, in 2012 only 51% of North American B2C marketers were using LinkedIn. Within 12 months, this had jumped to 71%. The primary goal is to grab the attention of professional consumers- or prosumers; well paid career folk who are also in the market to buy products. Here’s a video from Social Media Institute discussing how brands are using the network, and, more importantly, how they could use the network to garner better B2C results.
Thought leadership is one way in which brands are successfully using LinkedIn outside the traditional B2B framework. The network itself has grown in popularity as a blogging platform since expanding options for long-form posts. In May this year it even launched a new analytics feature so users can gauge the reach of their posts. Anything relating to career improvement has, understandably, been proving popular, so why not use that idea to develop blogs that are designed to help people with their work-life balance, tying in to a product or service?
It’s also important to consider not just the differences, but also the similarities between LinkedIn and Facebook et al. Yakima Products, which manufactures sports roofracks for cars, treats both platforms in a similar way. As SimplyMeasured puts it so perfectly: “[Yakima Products] become their audience’s laidback, who-needs-a-desk-job-anyways friend who is always happy to hang out.??? This is achieved via a mix of sexy pictures (women in bikinis), playful graphics, and themed posts for #mondays and #readyfortheweekend.
Aside from all that, the golden rules of social remain relevant on LinkedIn in terms of B2C. Have an opinion, share the most interesting and engaging stories from your blog, play on the brand’s credentials and what they mean to the network’s user-base. The average age of LinkedIn members is older than many other platforms, simply because it’s designed for professionals and university students looking to make new contacts. The result being plenty of opportunities to invoke nostalgia and emphasise heritage.