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LinkedIn to Southeast Asia

Facebook is the undisputed social media leader in the B2C marketing sector across the ASEAN bloc, LinkedIn, however, is edging ahead as the B2B platform of choice. This was underlined by The Social Media Marketing Industry Report, a survey of 3,720 marketeers and business owners in the small-business sector conducted by Social Media Examiner, a California-based online research specialist.

The report found that, although Facebook remains the most important social media platform for marketeers in general, LinkedIn clearly wins out in the B2B sector. Overall, 40 per cent of B2B marketeers chose LinkedIn as their preferred platform, followed by Facebook (37%) and Twitter (25%).

LinkedIn usage is picking up particularly quickly in Asia. According to the company's own 2016 figures, some 22 per cent (around 100 million) of its 450 million users are in the Asia-Pacific region. This is double the number the company reported in its 2014 figures.

Southeast Asia alone accounts for about 18 million users – six million in Indonesia, four million in the Philippines, three million in Malaysia and one million in Singapore. While these numbers may seem comparatively small, the rapid rise of a professional class of keen networkers in the region is set to see an explosion in subscribers.

A key change is that LinkedIn is no longer seen as purely a recruitment channel. Increasingly, it is being used by marketeers to connect with highly-focused B2B target groups. Uniquely, the platform allows these individuals to be identified by skills, job function, seniority, industry and location.

"All of my work in Singapore has come through connecting with people on LinkedIn, meeting them and matching a requirement that leads to a business opportunity,” said Chris Reed, Chief Executive of Singapore-based Black Marketing, a specialist B2B agency.

"I've also used it to connect with a number of chief marketing officers and decision-makers in Singapore and across the Asia-Pacific region. Overall, I have won more new business through LinkedIn than through any other channel.

"Crucially, it allows you to reach key decision-makers without having to go through PAs. I find that people are nearly always responsive as long as the initial contact is short, focused and has a simple call to action – usually in the form of meeting up or via a Skype call."

Jeff Rajeck, a Researcher with the Singapore office of global e-commerce consultancy eConsultancy, said: "If you are targeting people who work in the IT industry in Singapore, for instance, LinkedIn is the most effective way to identify them."

LinkedIn’s real edge lies in its facility to market highly specialised products to a particular target audience. For instance, HP Software used the platform to launch its Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) suite, a set of software tools designed to test and guide the development of computer programmes. When targeting several Southeast Asian markets, notably Indonesia and the Philippines, the campaign focused on Functional Testing, a technique designed to evaluate software across a range of conditions.

To maximise awareness, HP wanted to reach a highly niche audience, but identifying buyers and key decision-makers within its target organisations proved a considerable challenge. Many of the intended recipients also would not be aware of the potential benefits of the ALM system.

To tackle these issues, HP used LinkedIn's inMail facility, which allows any of the platform's users to be contacted individually. It also posted a series of advertising banners, all targeted at an audience defined by industry, job role and company size. Ultimately, the banners received more than 99,500 hits over a six-week period.

HP then engaged these respondents, discussing how their software testing was currently being conducted, allowing the company to better understand its targets' ALM-related needs and day-to-day concerns. This was then followed by the drafting of a series of ultra-targeted messages, each one exactly matching an individual prospect's profile and particular requirements. This resulted in 50 per cent of the emails being opened and, of these, some 40 per cent were then converted into positive sales leads.

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