“A Million Thanks to Our Followers”
HP recently made a lot of hay that it is the first company to reach 1 million LinkedIn users. Is this really a big deal? HP seems to think so, and so are others who are trying to figure out how HP beat other well-known brands, like Coca-Cola – the biggest brand on Facebook – by a landslide with a paltry 200,000 LinkedIn followers.
How important is the LinkedIn milestone to HP’s brand, and what can other companies learn from HP’s LinkedIn strategy?
Before we dive into these questions, let’s consider a few important points.
First, comparing social media patterns of pure consumer brands, like Coke, Apple and Nike, to hybrid B2B/consumer brands, like HP, Xerox and Dell, is not an apples to apples comparison. Second, LinkedIn’s recently introduced Influencer platform, which brought together 150 influential thought leaders to write luminating posts, such as Sir Richard Branson, quickly amassed more than a million followers shortly after he wrote his first entry. Third, the LinkedIn format lends itself much better to hybrid product/service companies that appeal to job seekers, industry analysts and business executives who pride themselves on how many followers they’re racking up.
As reported in Mashable, “LinkedIn first introduced the option for users to follow companies in April, 2010. Two years later, LinkedIn rolled out a “follow company” button that brands can embed on their web pages, making it easier for customers and job hunters to find and sign up to follow companies.”
It seems that the sleeping giant HP quietly embraced LinkedIn’s newest feature and secretly plotted a strategy to harness the platform as a launching pad for its big turnaround. In doing so, HP has proven it can dominate once again and, in essence, owns one of the big 3 social media channels to showcase the new HP brand.
“It’s really a platform that has lent itself well – and very naturally – to the essence, the DNA of HP as a brand and what we’re really good at as a company,” stated Natalie Malaszenko, HP’s vice president of digital marketing, in a recent article in Ragan’s PR Daily.
So, what can other companies learn from Natalie Malaszenko’s LinkedIn strategy to build their brand? There are three big takeaways:
- Study and listen to your audiences – It’s unlikely the marketing executives at HP woke up one morning and said to themselves, “Let’s dominate LinkedIn so we can take our brand to the next level.” Hardly. “First, we listened and we watched,” Malaszenko stated. “We saw what other brands were doing. We saw what customers were talking about in their communities.” In other words, they were watching other companies trip up and miss the boat with social media channels, like LinkedIn, and then quietly came in for the kill.
- Give them what they want – “We dipped our toe into the pool and put our content out there to see how this community would react to it,” added Malaszenko. After studying HP’s growing LinkedIn followers, they found that 43 percent were IT professionals and 35 percent were upper-level managers. They gave their followers information they could use in their day-to-day jobs, provided technical discussions and tidbits on industry trends. In other words, they fed them what they wanted and provided a steady diet of stuff they kept coming back for.
- Anticipate what they’ll want next and get everyone involved – “We do have a team that’s very focused on social and listening to the community, making sure the content matches the need of the community, but planning the conversations, actually happen across the company,” adds Malaszenko. “It’s really a group effort.” She’s right – the care and feeding of “followers” and the online fan base of modern-day companies extends beyond the communications or marketing departments. New groups and alliances are being created across companies and organizations to include contributors who bring subject matter expertise, technical acumen and human capital knowledge to the social media conversation table. Building a brand now extends beyond the communications and marketing departments. And that’s a very good thing for everyone, especially “we, the followers.”
About this Blog
Brains, Brands and Behavior explores how we think and behave and how this affects our perceptions about brands. Through the psychology of branding, it's clear how important it is to have a solid and powerful brand, no matter the industry you're in.
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