Live Blogging LinkedIn’s TechConnect:13

September 26, 2013

Today, I’m live blogging from LinkedIn’s TechConnect:13 event at the Rosewood in Silicon Valley. It’s a forum for senior technology marketing leaders representing more than 100 companies to network with their peers and discuss the growing impact of social media on their businesses.

The agenda features a host of industry experts and speakers discussing trends, sharing case studies and outlining opportunities and challenges for their marketing efforts. Here are some highlights from this morning:

You’re not selling to a building—you’re selling to an individual.

“Your customer is not a company. She is a person,” Gunther Schumacher, Worldwide President & COO at OgilvyOne announces in the opening keynote.

Gunther shares research outlining how 100% of business-to-business (B2B) buyers today use social media. Of that number:

• 88% use LinkedIn often or very often.

• 61% of B2B marketers generate leads with social media.

• 75% of tech decision makers engage through social media.

• 59% tech decision makers are more influenced by social than online media.

• 58% use social media to learn from trusted peers.

This engagement depends on content that’s genuine and helpful. Social means business, Gunther says, but what do you get out of that business? In other words – “What’s the TOTAL value of my customer?”

To capture total customer value, you first need to understand each customer’s individual value. Second, you have to generate and understand your network by creating social bonds through community participation. This includes advocacy and collaboration where customers participate in conversations with marketers to create products and value.

According to a study by Millward Brown and OgilvyOne, buyers who are most likely to engage socially are in IT Solutions & Hardware. In fact, when brands socially engage with audiences in the U.S., they enjoy a 15% lift in loyalty from buyers who already recommend them. With people not currently recommending them, they see a 424% spike!

It boils down to creating financial, structural, emotional, and social bonds with your customer. But how do you do this?

• Start by understanding your individual customer’s journey to purchase.Where does it start? What’s the research phase like? When and why does your customer purchase? What are the trigger events? Read your customers’ digital body language. (You can’t market infant nutrition if everyone calls it baby food.)

• Data is important, and technology is the new creative. In terms of talent, you need both right- and left-brainers – switch hitters who have diverse, multi-dimensional talent.

• Insights are in; stereotypes are out. David Ogilvy once said that you can’t bore people into buying your product. That’s why marketing teams need to turn creative briefs that say, “We need to promote data and analytics about nanotechnology” into opportunities to create “A Boy and His Atom: The World’s Smallest Movie.”

Create content from conversations around what’s going wrong

Dan Roth, Executive Editor at LinkedIn, says a great way of creating content is by taking and re-purposing conversations around what’s going wrong.

To illustrate his point, Dan tells a story about Beth Comstock, the CMO of GE. To put it bluntly, she got sh*t done. One day, in the middle of a call with Jack Welch, the line went dead. She called his assistant and was told, “The line didn’t actually go dead. Jack wants you to know what it’s like to be in a meeting with you.” Later, Jack explained that Beth was good at getting things done, but she was too abrupt. Jack told her that you have to sit and wallow in the information to understand it. (By the way, Beth initially shared this story herself on LinkedIn!)

This story illustrates what doesn’t govern content creation enough, says Dan. Conversation is the new currency. To create valuable content, you need to wallow in it, just like Jack Welch said.

This isn’t easy. In fact, in the era of big data, it’s an incredibly messy game. You have to be prepared for outcomes to be out of your control.

For example, LinkedIn started with the idea of being a professional network. In the last two years, we layered something else on – connecting the world’s professionals with consumable ideas that are meaningful to them.

LinkedIn Today, for example, shares the wisdom not of the crowd, but of your crowd. The LinkedIn Influencer program took this to the next level, adding content creation on top of content aggregation. It’s a virtuous loop; Influencers use feedback to create content.

If your content isn’t creating conversations, you’re doing it wrong. When you share something, it should carry forward.

So stop trying to find the perfect ending. Start a conversation raw, before you tie the bow. We’ve all heard of the importance of having a minimally viable product. The exact same thing is true of content.

Content creates insights and attracts talent

Dan Roth led a roundtable discussion with three LinkedIn Influencers and asked these questions:

What kind of content are you creating and why?

“There’s a lot of change happening in education, so it’s critical to get insights from people who are on the ground experiencing those changes. By putting my ideas out there, I get feedback that enhances them. As a CEO, this helps me better formulate my thoughts and opinions for investors and learners. It’s the one social medium I’m involved with,” said Heather Hiles, Founder & CEO at Pathbrite.

“For me, writing is the closest I’ll get to delivering a child. I write when there’s something inside of me that I need to get out. When I was at Google, I needed to compete against other employers like Facebook. People work for individuals, not companies. Writing helped me bring on talent we may not have gotten otherwise, because applicants could see me as an individual,“ shared Hunter Walk, Partner at Homebrew Venture Capital.

How do you measure the success of being a LinkedIn Influencer?

“I love to weigh in when what I have to say isn’t redundant. When I wrote my Elon Musk piece, which got a lot of attention, I thought people were missing the point that we were talking about business model and not technology. Another example is the post I wrote about using a Google self-driving car. I don’t know how to drive, so I described my experience differently than most others would. I also assess success based on whether I learn something from the comments,” explained Esther Dyson, Chairman at HICCup.

That’s all for today. Tomorrow, I’ll share my summary of the afternoon’s events. In the meantime, what would you add?