For LinkedIn, it’s abt being relevant & contextual

18 Apr,2012

By A correspondent

 

While social media in India is largely about congregating on two of the busiest portals in the space, mostly for the sake of networking and fun, there is another experience – led largely by B2B marketers – that is setting the business community abuzz for a while now.

 

Having arrived in India only in 2009, LinkedIn has emerged as one of the fastest growing professional networks in India, being valued by its members as professional, trusted, and creating a remarkably different social environment. Having managed to outperform expectations by clocking over 14 millions+ users in a span of just two years and further generating business leads in the range of 149 million, it was an opportune time for the network in India to get together the community responsible for driving such a change.

 

B2B Connect 2012 was the first such attempt by the network as they bought together marketing enthusiasts – led largely by blue chip clients, evangelists and practitioners to look into the scope that the medium offered for professionals to liaise, interact, get business leads and even look out for talent – new and experienced. Not wanting anyone from the network to miss out on the excitement, the Indian contingent were even successful in getting the otherwise hesitant global CEO Jeff Weiner to be a part of the event as they got him to kick-start the proceedings with a keynote address.

 

Mr Weiner began by admiring the efforts and innovations bought in by late Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, who he described as a talent to reckon with. “The reason Apple is what it is, because it managed to find the right talent for the right opportunity. Obviously, it helped in having a team that was as instrumental in achieving the desired objective.” Likewise for LinkedIn, the focus was on making sure that the right talent matched with right opportunity in making the association with professionals more productive and successful. Emphasising on the three key attributes that would drive the network in the future, Mr Weiner said that it would be about creating an Identity, Insight and being Everywhere.

 

Throwing up impressive numbers put up by the three divisions at LinkedIn, Mr Weiner said that Hiring Solutions contributed about $261 million, Marketing Solutions contributed about $156 million while Premium Subscriptions contributed about $106 million to the overall growth. Overall, the network witnessed a growth in excess of 100 per cent YoY.

 

Dhiman Mukherji

According to Mr Weiner, India was at top of the the markets that were putting up an exciting show, as it grew by more than 300 per cent in terms of user base. Drawing from what Mr Weiner had expressed at the event regarding India being a force to reckon with, Dhiman Mukherji, Director, Marketing Solutions said that the focus is on how the network is positioning B2B in the forefront of everything it does.

 

In an interaction with MxM India, he said: “What has really worked is that we have been able to create a B2B marketplace and this event is a celebration of that. In two years’ time we have been able to leverage with some of the leading brands in India and that is what has helped us take our business to new levels. When I joined the company in 2010, we were at 3 million-odd user base and today we are at 14 million users. So it’s all a result of not only good trade marketing that has happened but a lot of PR communication drive that has taken place. The fact that increasingly people are finding value in the LinkedIn proposition is what is making this medium click.”

 

Having already created a strong user base in the realm of IT, according to Mr Mukherji, the focus, going forward, would be to break into each and every vertical, including energy, construction, real estate, and so on. In fact, they are already seeing some amount of traction in these verticals as well. “Going forward we would be increasing our focus towards financial, travel & tourism, auto, and others,” he said.

 

Providing an APAC perspective, Olivier Legrand, Senior Director – Marketing Solutions, APAC said that India’s current hold is such that “some of the most sophisticated campaigns that have been running in Asia Pacific have been coming out of India. The Indian market has proven to be successful from the users’ perspective. Even in terms of the marketers, as they are really leveraging what’s really available on the platform. We have been consistently working with marketers on what are they trying to achieve and how we could help them in their journey,” he said.

 

On how India stacks up to other Asia Pacific countries for LinkedIn, Mr Legrand said, “APAC and India are very critical for us in achieving our objective of connecting professionals. Of the 150 million professionals that we have connected thus far, about 25 million are from APAC. We are anticipating a big part of the growth in users to come from this part of the world. Other markets that have been delivering good growth include Australia, Malaysia, Korea, Japan.” He further stated that the key markets going forward would be Indonesia and Malaysia.

 

On comparisons being drawn to other popular social media platforms of today, Mr Mukherji said: “The two pillars that separate us from the rest is relevance and context because at LinkedIn, it is all about being relevant and contextual. It’s about a network of people who are bonding to share insights, to get feedback from each other and really benefit from each other. Our solutions are such that they give marketers an ability to position their brand in a way that it turns out to be productive and in a manner which is in context to whatever is happening around them.”

 

Mr Legrand has another version to offer. For him, it all boils down to the mission set by the network: “To connect the professionals in a way so as to make them productive and successful. So what we bring is focus, what we bring is professional identity online, what we bring is opportunities for users to connect with businesses.”

 

According to him, other social media firms deliver different values. “For example, if we look at Facebook, it deals with fun, entertainment, pictures, and so on and is an environment that has an interest for certain categories for users but we are a place for professionals and are very attractive for B2B marketers. So that’s how we are positioned and that’s what’s going to be our focus going forward. We are about providing identity, providing insights and being everywhere.”

 

When asked on the growth put in by the Marketing Solutions division, Mr Mukherji said: “Where Marketing Solutions is concerned, we have grown by leaps and bounds. Not only has the user base grown but the sheer number of marketers who want to experiment with LinkedIn – that in itself is growing. So we have been growing substantially from where we started off in 2010.” Even the Hiring Solutions and Premium subscriptions too, contribute significantly to its business, he revealed.

 

As for the goalpost of increasing the user base in India by a large sum this year, Mr Mukherji said: “We are not in a hurry to add more users as its basic philosophy is putting the user first. Have we improved the experience for the existing user – that is the core of our philosophy. If I can make his current experience on LinkedIn better by giving him access on the mobile, i-Pad, smartphones and others that’s what we would ideally like to concentrate on. So yes, we are not in a tearing hurry to get in more users; that will come when the experience in itself sees an improvisation over a period of time and when it starts benefiting our online community at large.”

 

The event saw an impressive line-up of guests present interesting case-studies and examples of leveraging LinkedIn for deriving success for their brands. Dell, Philips, Citi India, Microsoft, HCL Technologies, Siemens were some blue chip clients who came in good numbers to imbibe meaningful solutions from the meet.

 

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One response to “For LinkedIn, it’s abt being relevant & contextual”

  1. Himanshu says:

    A good story straight from the horse’s mouth. Liked the manner in which the growth trajectory of different divisions within LinkedIn have been positioned…

    If India and APAC are region to reckon with for LI…will this event find a mention on LI blogs? which otherwise seem to be very much North America focussed and of very little context for me as a professional based in India.

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