This is the last part of our Social Media series where we’ll talk about some ways to increase your brand presence using LinkedIn. If you missed our first two installments, be sure to check out Part 1: Personalize, Promote & Protect Your Brand Using Twitter and Part 2: Increase Brand Engagement with Facebook Fan Pages.
If Facebook users are jeans and t-shirt crowd, LinkedIn comes dressed in business casual. LinkedIn is currently the largest professional social network online today with over 80 million users. It gives professionals the ability to see their immediate connections, as well as those that are two or three degrees of separation away. We’ll talk about some key strategies and some best practices to enable you to grow your brand’s presence on LinkedIn.
Creating a LinkedIn Group is a simple process, however, there are a few elements to keep in mind before doing getting started:
- Group Name: Although your business should create it’s own company profile to have a presence on LinkedIn, a Group name should embody the core value of your brand, rather than using the company name itself. Think about creating a name that will attract a target audience who shares the mindset and beliefs of your company. This establishes your LinkedIn Group as a place professionals can gather to share ideas, thoughts, and opinions surrounding your industry
- Mission: Make sure your company has a clearly defined purpose for starting a group. For example, Hollister, a Boston-based staffing firm is passionate about connecting opportunity and talent. Their LinkedIn Group – Boston Marketing Group of over 2,260 professionals, has established its mission of connecting Boston area Marketing professionals to share knowledge and experience in marketing. This gives all participating members guidelines of what type of discussions and content is to be shared within your LinkedIn group.
- Foster Engagement: Similar to your company’s Facebook Page, LinkedIn engagement needs to be fostered with interesting discussion and content. Use this opportunity to prompt the group members with a question to start the ball rolling. One strategy could be to post current events regarding your industry, or post a weekly question to promote engagement. Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman, in their book Content Rules describes this type of engagement like starting a campfire. One must nurture the flame at first to get it going before it starts a long continuous burn. However, as with any fire, you have to adjust the logs every so often to keep the conversation interesting.
Your People are your Brand
In his book From Good to Great, Jim Collins stresses the importance of how a company’s success is dependent on the quality of the people surrounding the brand. You have to get the right people on the bus, before deciding where the bus is supposed to go! If your company is looking to recruit new talent, LinkedIn should be one of the first stops to fulfilling this goal.
LinkedIn Answers is a prime place to share your knowledge. Tons of people everyday are posting questions that might be relevant to your company’s products or services. For example, Gary Fox founder of Tribal Café is looking for how he could improve his website. If your company provides web development solutions, this could be a golden opportunity to offer Gary some helpful advice on how he could improve his site. Once this connection is made, Gary has the option of choosing the best answer, which will then be exhibited when the question is closed. By answering questions and being helpful on LinkedIn Answers, your brand can establish themselves as an expert in their field, and distinguish themselves from the competition, while generating new sales leads.
Your company can use this tool equally well as a crowd-sourcing tool to get ideas from avid professionals online.
1. Your LinkedIn group’s mission should embody the interests and core values of your company/brand to appeal to your target audience.
2. Engage your LinkedIn Group by prompting discussion. Use current events or weekly questions relevant to your industry to get the conversation started.
3. Establish your brand as a thought leader by answering questions on LinkedIn Answers.
For banks, there has never been a more important time to re-think traditional marketing strategies and tactics because the landscape has and is changing with great velocity. The credit crisis, near-zero interest rates, loss of trust and low brand loyalty have resulted in banks seeking new ways to re-build lost revenue and profits. Add to that the myriad of investment choices like credit unions and government backed securities, banks are increasingly competing to acquire and retain their customer base.
A recent Accenture study estimates that as many as 30% of a bank’s customer base is “in play,” meaning these customers will change their banking relationships or change the amount or nature of their relationship with the bank’s products and services.
Banks must move from a product-driven marketing approach to a customer-driven model. In doing so banks must accept the fact that digital technology has forever altered consumer behavior. The end result is an empowered consumer who is more critical and demanding; one that expects his bank to be accessible, empathetic, and innovative in terms of its approach to managing expectations.
Given these changes, for banks to find new customers and retain them is more challenging than ever before. The good news is that there are technology-based solutions available that will allow banking institutions to effectively connect with customers where and when they wish to be touched, with content that is personalized to their needs.
One such solution to nurture prospects into becoming customers and keeping them engaged is marketing automation. This is a technology platform that delivers messages to prospects based on a set of business rules that is reflective of that prospect’s past behavior. The platform is often integrated with a bank’s database(s) as well the branch that a customer may visit. This enables the bank to have a 360-degree vantage point and be able to converse with the prospect where and when he or she desires.
And the best part is that the process of touching prospects is automated so that bank is not tying up valuable resources manually driving the outreach effort. Today whether a bank uses a product based platform, builds one organically or creates a hybrid, the cost is surprising affordable. This means that smaller banking institutions are able to set up and execute on a customer acquisition and retention strategy at a price that fits within their budget.
At the end of the day it’s about meaningful engagement and by leveraging technology to drive marketing initiatives, a bank can become a valued partner and deliver on that experience without being perceived as an omnipresent annoyance.
Download our CitiMortgage Case Study.