As the omnipresent agenda on every marketer’s ‘to-do’ list, content marketing requires buyers to take into account the changes in buying behaviour in recent times. Access to information via internet has changed the way buyers make purchase decisions. And the effectiveness of content marketing to drive consumer engagement plays a crucial role in influencing this change. According to LinkedIn’s Head of Marketing Solutions, Asia Pacific and Japan, Olivier Legrand, the platform’s content focus has brought it even closer to its users.
Citing consumers’ digital engagement trends, Mr Legrand observed, “It is the shift from a place where people used to have content delivered to them to a place where they are going and getting the content they want, wherever they want, whenever they want, leveraging the technology they want”.
“Mobile is playing an amazing role into the new ways that content is being consumed by consumer”, he added while emphasising that with consumers’ changing habits, the deal cycles are also changing. “Research demonstrates that when a buyer gets in touch with the sales team, the consumer is about 60 to 90 percent into his buying cycle,” he said.
Consumers today are not dependent on suggestions at retail. They are increasingly going online and doing their own research to arrive at a shortlist and it is important for brands to be on that shortlist to be considered for purchase. Mr Legrand said that content marketing is the bridge that builds relationships that’s going to help brands. However, it is not just any kind of content that engages with consumers. In order to be that bridge, content has to be relevant and useful. It’s all about utility, he underlined. “You need to position your brand as a place that is going to provide a solution and not selling a product”, he said.
Content itself is being transformed, stated Mr Legrand at the recently concluded Festival of Media Asia, adding, “Social platforms are completely changing the way content is being re-distributed, and that is because the network is becoming the editor.”
Today social platforms are able to see who the consumers are connected with, which industry they work in and what like-minded people are reading, sharing, liking and commenting. These incredible social cues allow LinkedIn to build the news a consumer should be reading in real time. Consumers want to be in the know and not miss content that is game changing. Mr Legrand quoted the example of LinkedIn Pulse to highlight how LinkedIn is aggregating news layered with insights and data to deliver a unique news experience.
The other aspect in which content has made a difference at LinkedIn is the concept of Influencer and Influencer content. LinkedIn invited industry captains to start blogging long form content on the platform. Encouraged by the traction it witnessed, LinkedIn has grown its group of influencers from 100 to 500. These influencers, says Mr Legrand, are representative of global talent, global leaders, and global captains of industry. LinkedIn has also made long-form content blogging to all its members in English and a few other languages. The firm aims to make this feature available in all languages in the near future.
“We have 40,000 pieces of original blog posts flowing into the platform every week. The volumes of content and the volumes of knowledge that has been unlocked by this, is amazing. The shift we saw was that we had a place, where members were consuming seven times more content than they consume jobs. It was a total transformation of utility of the platform at its core,” Mr Legrand remarked.
It is interesting to note the kind of content that LinkedIn members seek out. While they primarily want to read news and industry related content, they also want to read about leadership to become better professionals and importantly, they want to hear from brands. This is a fundamental difference in the LinkedIn platform, where users expect to be engaged by relevant content and that has created an incredible opportunity for brands.
Mr Legrand also shared pointers on the importance of context in content marketing. Today brands don’t need to do establish the context of their conversations alone. There are number of companies that understand the trend and are looking to help brands reach the next level of social media conversations through content marketing.