How brands can be there for their audience during a crisis and build a loyal following
Sachin Sharma, Director of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, India
Your community can drive long-term ROI

How brands can be there for their audience during a crisis and build a loyal following

Your community can drive long-term ROI
  • Sachin Sharma, Director of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, India writes how your community can help drive long-term ROI.
  • He suggests a few ways in which your brand can build ROI on LinkedIn.
Amidst the unprecedented physical boundaries imposed by COVID-19, the virtual world has continued to bind us together. Conversations are on the rise, but this time more frequently, authentically, and virtually. This surge in online adoption during the crisis is a call for marketers globally to get one step closer to their communities (not literally). Brands now need to join the conversation and add value by being there for their stakeholders. They can offer knowledge, support, guidance, and create relevant opportunities for participation.

Brands that show up and keep their stakeholders engaged today are likely to convert them into loyal advocates for the long term. It’s a tall order, but the good news is that online communities make it pretty easy to start and reasonably intuitive to carry on.

Communities are a great way for brands to show up and build sustainable relationships, organically. While most marketers focus their budgets and efforts on demand-generation, investing in communities can help balance short-term demand goals with longer-term brand efforts, at no extra cost! Edtech major UpGrad has been a forerunner in nurturing their community of intent-driven learners, thereby balancing their brand and demand efforts, and achieving significant ROI on LinkedIn.

Your Company Page is key: On LinkedIn, a brand’s page is where your customers, advocates, prospects and employees - all come together. Make sure you pay attention to your brand presence and keep this page relevant and active at all times.

Join conversations that matter:
Leverage online tools to understand the conversations your target audience is engaging in and their content consumption preferences. Keep an eye on LinkedIn’s trending storylines for relevant topics you can weigh in on.

Create a content calendar: Build a simple content calendar of topics you’ll cover. Leverage different formats such as documents, imagery and videos to engage consumers who may have varied preferences of content consumption. With physical events suspended, virtual events are a great way to provide the social interactions that people crave with their colleagues and leaders.

More dialogue: Create opportunities for a two-way conversation with your community members - asking questions, garnering feedback through polls and adding to an ongoing discussion makes the brand ‘one of the community members’, drumming up fans for life.

Be a thought leader, but also an excellent community member

Considering that the most engaged communities bring customers, employees, prospects and advocates together, the content on the platform needs to encompass the diversity of interest. Thought leadership, storytelling, and culture are three key avenues to nurture enduring dialogues across stakeholders.

Publishing thought leadership content is an excellent way for leaders to champion their brand purpose and the actions they are taking to support the larger community. Combine that with brand content that facilitates existing user-led conversations, and people see a brand that’s like a friend in need.

Stories that followers can truly connect with go a long way in building interest within the community as well. Storytelling works particularly well for creating an emotional connect by humanizing the brand. Among the brands that have been quick to leverage their LinkedIn page to tell their story and stay top of mind, was banking leader, ICICI Bank. Their #BankingOnYou campaign assured followers that ICICI Bank was right by their side in navigating change. They called on customers to step up to play their part, giving them a role to play in their transition to digital banking, thus keeping them engaged while building trust for the long term.

Finally, leveraging your employee network to showcase your company culture is a great way to show and not tell. Content shared by employees has 2X the engagement of content shared by a company. Encourage the leadership team or subject matter experts in your company to share your posts regularly and you can amplify their own content in return. Larsen & Toubro Technology Services took to online communities to demonstrate their willingness to support businesses that are trying to make the transition to virtual. The brand’s #EngineersFromTheHomeDesk campaign has its leaders take viewers through tips and insights on how to shift their businesses to a virtual set-up.

Communities, when managed well and consistently, become increasingly self-reliant on the back of engaged members. Brands can step up and ask questions, join ongoing discussions and introduce owned hashtags to establish themselves as ‘one of the community members’.

Times of crises define brands, and those leading the charge with urgency and compassion will win the loyalty of consumers. As the world’s largest professional community, LinkedIn offers marketers the chance to strengthen their relationships with a range of resources that are free for use and ideal to build loyal communities. With a receptive and attentive audience, now is a great time for brands to demonstrate a customer-first attitude and create fans for life.

The article is authored by Sachin Sharma, Director of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, India.