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LinkedIn Emerges as Lead B2B Marketing Platform in Southeast Asia

While Facebook has maintained its commanding position as the key social media channel for B2C marketing in Southeast Asia, LinkedIn is rapidly gaining ground among those companies looking to target highly specific niches in the B2B sector.

Photo: LinkedIn: Shedding its recruitment-only perception across the ASEAN bloc. (Shutterstock.com/mirtmirt)
LinkedIn: Shedding its recruitment-only perception across the ASEAN bloc.
Photo: LinkedIn: Shedding its recruitment-only perception across the ASEAN bloc. (Shutterstock.com/mirtmirt)
LinkedIn: Shedding its recruitment-only perception across the ASEAN bloc.

Although Facebook is the undisputed social media leader in the B2C marketing sector across the ASEAN bloc, LinkedIn is edging ahead as the platform of choice when it comes to B2B. 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% 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% (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.

Table: Growth in Number of LinkedIn Users (by country)
Table: Growth in Number of LinkedIn Users (by country)

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

A clear convert to the cause is Chris Reed, Chief Executive of Singapore-based Black Marketing, a specialist B2B agency. Commenting on the efficacy of the platform, he said: "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.

"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 the 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."

Another fan is Jeff Rajeck, a Researcher with the Singapore office of the eConsultancy, a global e-commerce consultancy. Acknowledging the platform's clout in particular sectors, he 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."

For many, the thing that gives LinkedIn a real edge is its facility to market highly-specialised products to an exact target audience. As an example of just what can be achieved, HP Software – one of the world's largest computer companies – 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 targetting a number of Southeast Asian markets, notably Indonesia and the Philippines, the campaign focussed on Functional Testing, a technique designed to evaluate software across a range of conditions.

In order 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. Added to this, there was the problem that many of the intended recipients would not be aware of the potential benefits of the ALM system.

In order to tackle both of 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 targetted at an audience defined by industry, job role and company size. Ultimately, the banners received more than 99,500 hits over a period of six weeks.

HP then engaged these respondents, discussing how their software testing was currently being conducted. This allowed 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-targetted messages, each one exactly matching an individual prospect's profile and particular requirements. This resulted in 50% of the emails being opened and, of these, some 40% were then converted into positive sales leads.

Geoff de Freitas, Special Correspondent, Singapore

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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