In the recent months I have had the great fortune to meet several times with senior officials at the major global social media networks. Each time I am pleasantly surprised that there is always something new and exciting to try.
You can forget all the media hype about university billionaires, these businesses have grown quickly and successfully for a reason. Just last week I had the opportunity to meet with a team from LinkedIn where we discussed various elements of their recruitment offering. During the discussions they introduced me to ‘Sponsored Groups’ a service that was launched in 2010 but which I haven’t heard being used here in the region (please correct me if you have launched one!)
Now there are two different options here (http://emea.marketing.linkedin.com/products/groups/), addressing the needs of companies wanting to enter the social media environment, but lacking either knowledge, time or resources to do so. The first is ‘Custom Groups’ which effectively helps to establish a thought leadership group overnight and invite everyone who might be relevant on the LinkedIn database. The benefit here is that instead of creating your own group and organically growing the membership week after week… and hoping more people sign up than become dormant… LinkedIn will promote your group across all relevant people based on their database and hopefully, bring people to the party together. Citibank and Philips are two organisations that have successfully done this and you can click on both the links here to go straight to their sponsored pages. The key here, is that you are creating a discussion forum on a topic of interest – not on your company per se. It’s about bringing together thought leaders to debate and share their research on particular subjects – which the company’s communications team may moderate and steer. They can also post ads, video content and conduct polls.
How LinkedIn Custom Groups work • Create a branded discussion forum • Steer the conversation with community management tools and weekly emails to group members • Get ‘free’ members organically • Recruit more members using Join Group Ads and Sponsored InMail Messages • Generate valuable earned media, as group members ‘like’ comments and share discussions with their LinkedIn network – Members’ updates are posted to their 1st degree connections’ homepages in the Network Update Stream • Exclusively promote your content and messages in the right-hand rail with units that support rich media and video • Get valuable metrics and analysis
The second option, which is mostly an advertising product, is to sponsor a LinkedIN managed forum. Effectively you become the corporate patron of a particular group for a short period, placing your ads and being able to engage during that period. Useful if you just want to do a small amount of global marketing, or need to ramp up your communications during a particular period. Presently there are five managed groups, which are most US-focused. However, there should be potential for Arabic language managed group focused on the Gulf Markets.
The Five Managed Groups: • Small Business: Swap ideas, share tips, and interact with others at small, fast-growing companies • Business Travel: How to make the most of your travel experiences • Social Impact: How to run a business that doesn’t just do well, but also does good • New Grads: A place for new and future graduates to connect, trade stories and discuss strategies for success • Veterans in the US: The transition to civilian life and an opportunity for veterans in business to network (US only)
This has been around for a couple of years now, but with LinkedIN’s increasing presence in the UAE/region I believe that this will become a popular service that will be evaluated in communications and advertising meetings this year.