LinkedIn's Gamson Details How Web 2.0 Can Work for Your Business
With more than 41 million subscribers in its nearly seven-year existence, professional networking site LinkedIn is grabbing the social media headlines these days right along with Facebook and Twitter. In his keynote presentation at last week's DM Days New York Conference & Expo, Mike Gamson, LinkedIn's vice president of corporate solutions, revealed some of the secrets to his company's success, as well as tactics other direct marketers can use to make Web 2.0 more than just a buzzword.
Why Social Media Works
Gamson cited six reasons why LinkedIn, as well as the other prominent social media sites, such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, have been successful with the Web 2.0 model. LinkedIn has thrived with almost no advertising budget, he noted.
- Viral distribution. Gamson cited an airline that uses Twitter and Facebook to broadcast last-minute fares to its followers as a perfect example. “This is great distribution at a very low cost to the company.”
- Content. Have your customers help you write content, Gamson suggested.
- Engagement. Just think about the number of times that you check Facebook or Twitter per day, said Gamson, noting those sites' engaged audiences.
- Solutions. Solve old problems with new solutions, Gamson said, such as companies using LinkedIn to boost recruiting efforts.
- Authenticity. If you're not authentic in your interactions with consumers on social media sites, they'll know, Gamson warned.
- Fast start. LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace and now Twitter have gained such a large lead in market share over the incumbents (i.e., Google, Yahoo) that it'll be hard for others to catch them.
6 Attributes of Social Media
As for what benefits your company can expect to gain from using social media, Gamson listed his six attributes as follows:
- Enables collaboration.
- Promotes interaction: blogs; forums for customers to talk with each other.
- Empowers individuals: helps to control your brand online, Gamson noted.
- Leverages social graphs.
- Removes geographical boundaries. “This is an incredibly easy way to communicate with someone around the world,” Gamson said, noting that social media sites have helped him get answers to business questions.
- Aggregation of opinion: customer reviews (e.g., hotels, restaurants).
New Rules of Engagement
“We're all writing these together,” Gamson said, referring to the developing nature of social media. Here are some of Gamson's and LinkedIn's techniques to help you get started in this emerging channel:
- Be authentic. Don't pitch to your customers like an infomercial, Gamson said, making special note to avoid such terms as “Act Now” or “Special Offer.”
- Go deep. “Much of the value of Web 2.0 is below the surface,” Gamson said.
- Join the conversation. People are already talking about your products, so go to where they're talking and create a forum, including negative comments, Gamson said.
- Add value. Share your experiences in a positive way, Gamson said. He cited examples such as forwarding a relevant news article to your network and updating your networking status.
- Pay it forward first; then look to extract value.