LinkedIn is a highly successful business and employment-oriented service that operates via websites and mobile Apps. It’s basically, the go-to business networking App, now owned by Microsoft. Originally launched in May 2003, it’s now mainly used for professional networking, as well as a place for employers posting jobs and job seekers posting CV’s. It has achieved huge global growth with over 560 million users, of whom 44% are monthly active users and over 60 million are senior level influencers (Source: Vox.com). So what’s the situation with LinkedIn in China? We’ll take a look and also outline some of the key steps to building your brand in China using LinkedIn.
Background to LinkedIn in China
LinkedIn has a great Chinese name “领英” which in English roughly translates as “leader, elite” or “outstanding white-collar worker.” LinkedIn launched in the Chinese market as recently as 2014. The market opportunity than in China was seen as ‘140 million professionals’ (Source: LinkedIn). The company has since grown its presence significantly. This has been accelerated by both online and offline initiatives by LinkedIn in China, including helping individuals through so-called ‘social impact initiatives’ like the non-profit project BrightStart and #MakeWhatsNext, a programme that inspires Chinese high school girls to pursue careers in STEM.
At the time of market launch, LinkedIn had approximately 4 million members in China, who had primarily international profiles and acceptance amongst them of LinkedIn was very high from the start. This group of individuals was similar to their American membership profile and still dominates the makeup of LinkedIn China’s presence. Billy Huang, the Head of Consumer Marketing and Communication at LinkedIn China has stated their current priority is to address the bigger professional market in China beyond these users.
Building a brand presence on LinkedIn China
So how should you build your brand and gain engagement in China? There are six main measures for building a presence on LinkedIn in China. Some are generic measures; some are based on particular Chinese purchasing behaviours and trends:
Define your customer strategy – Be clear on your overall customer and stakeholder objectives in China. Are you focusing on acquisition or retention of LinkedIn followers? What role then is a platform like LinkedIn going to play in China for you and your company brand? Your content strategy – your comment and information presence, types and frequency of postings – will depend on this. Are you posting content to retain existing Chinese customers and build existing professional relationships with customers with a strategy of winning referrals and recommendations, or going to push a more acquisitive based presence based on LinkedIn advertising (pay-per-click) and content promoting offers and engaging webinars to win more followers and win more corporate brand engagement?
Develop an overall digital strategy for LinkedIn – Don’t make the mistake of just focusing on a single platform such as LinkedIn from the outset. Develop an overall digital strategy for China, which has a pervasive digital environment with some important differences and variations from that of ‘the West’. According to the China Internet Report 2018, China’s internet penetration is just over 50 percent. Its scale means there are three times the number of smartphone users and 11 times the number of mobile payment users in China than in the US. The Chinese spend three hours every day on their smartphones, mainly on social media and e-commerce platforms. Hence, a really strong mobile presence is fundamental to a brand’s growth, development and continuing presence in the Chinese market. So it’s key to develop a strategy based on the planned Chinese user experience of your brand across all, especially digital channels. For example, what will be your key platforms for brand exposure be in China? What role will LinkedIn play in your customer’s experience of your brand? For example, the relationship between the dual platforms of a micro-blogging platform in China like Sina Weibo (the Chinese equivalent of Twitter) and LinkedIn may be key for your awareness, acquisition and retention strategies, rather than just building a presence on LinkedIn as a single platform in isolation.
Develop your corporate brand – This is a generic but vital measure for success on LinkedIn and applies equally for China. Remember LinkedIn is primarily a business networking App. Various measures apply including considering the profile and ‘persona’ that you are seeking to build in order to create an impression in China when you are found on search or on a personal recommendation. Ask yourself how do the personas of you and your team best promote your corporate brand? Who in your team is best suited to project different aspects of your business brand on LinkedIn in China? Other LinkedIn ‘good housekeeping’ factors include having an up to date photo and profile, having a compelling elevator pitch, exploring China-based groups including which groups to build a profile as a ‘top-contributor’. Consider your optimum contact settings in a Chinese context, for example career opportunities, consulting offers, new ventures, and reference requests.
Leverage short video formats – According to Sina Finance report, the number of short video users exceeds 820 million in 2019 in China. So, placing a video on your LinkedIn profile page is a strategic way to keep users on the profile page longer. The short video platform Miaopai has become attractive for branded content online. So look at exploiting the Chinese love of short video on your LinkedIn posts. Tencent and Youku are similar to YouTube, you may need to consider a media strategy for your brand on these platforms as well as LinkedIn if the short video format is valuable for you and you want to maximise ROI from videos you develop.
Create company groups – Set up some groups as an accompaniment to your company’s presence. You can create closed groups for your employees to interact and discuss issues. Or you can also create a group of business and company-related, but open for discussion from all audiences. Such a group may be a helpful source of interaction for potential clients or talent prospects.
Encourage referrals and approvals from your network – The Chinese consumer increasingly use reviews by those in their social networks to make spending decisions. Again, this ‘endorsement purchasing’ is growing in the psyche of the Chinese and means you should maximise testimonials and endorsements of your personal and corporate brand on LinkedIn as much as possible.
How Melchers can support foreign businesses in China
Melchers provides a complete end to end digital-execution service for Western-brands wishing to define a strategy for China through to market implementation. We manage the client relationship in Europe and China, to ensure strategy, planning and projection is set out at the onset. Local teams based in Shanghai and Beijing oversee campaign implementations. Among our digital marketing services, we design, build and optimize web and mobile presences in China to drive customer acquisition including social media activation on different channels. Our team engages in content creation and management of your social media accounts and is driving digital marketing campaigns.
To learn more how we can support you, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.