If You Want Your Brand To Resonate On LinkedIn, Hit The Right Emotional Cues (Hint: Ambition)

Want to improve the way your brand uses social media? LinkedIn’s top ad exec shares strategies for navigating the gap between professional and personal.

If You Want Your Brand To Resonate On LinkedIn, Hit The Right Emotional Cues (Hint: Ambition)

The Internet has transformed how people communicate, consume information, and build relationships. As a result, the way the world works is fundamentally changing. Nowhere is this more apparent than with consumer behavior on social networks. The abundance of choices, ranging from broad to niche, is inevitably causing fragmentation across these platforms. In this landscape, it isn’t always easy for advertisers to effectively connect with audiences as they try to engage consumers who are juggling multiple profiles and mindsets online.


So, how do brands attract and retain consumers’ attention in a world of information overload? That is the primary question marketers are asking today. LinkedIn sought to answer this question in a recent study and found that marketing to emotion should play a bigger part in how brands pursue consumers on social networks. Titled The Mindset Divide, the study homed in on two areas–professional and personal networks–and together with TNS, surveyed 6,000 people in 12 different countries.

Know The Difference Between “Spending Time” and “Investing Time”

The first thing the study uncovered is that not all social networks are created equal, and purpose and mindset vary on each platform. This is simply the difference between “spending time” versus “investing time.” The mindset on social sites is typically casual and entertainment focused, while on professional networks it tends to be purposeful and goal-oriented. On social, it’s about enjoying the moment by socializing with friends and staying in touch, while on professional it’s about getting something back in the future.

Get Emotional

How does emotion come into play? We know the power of emotional advertising is undeniable, but marketers take for granted that this is only effective in social environments. While it’s easy to assume only personal networks capture users’ emotions and passions, The Mindset Divide debunks this myth and reveals that it’s actually quite the contrary. People are driven by a deep well of emotion when using professional networks. Maybe it’s less obvious than what you might see on personal networks, but it’s no less powerful. We found that ambition, security, and achievement are powerful emotions lurking just beneath the surface. Like many of us, the motivation is rooted in being capable providers, having a secure retirement, being able to afford college for our kids, and buying that dream house.

Brands should take note that the type of content users expect from the two networks should also align to the differences in mindset. Through the study we learned that people are more than three times as likely to use personal networks for entertainment, and are three times as likely to use professional networks to keep up to date with their career. We also found professional network users crave insights above all else, and expect to hear from brands 26% more on professional networks than they do on personal ones.


A great example of tapping into the emotional mindsets is Citi, a company that has one of the most successful groups on the LinkedIn platform. Citi’s Connect: Professional Women’s Network offers content that matters most to professional women. They are deeply engaged in the day-to-day conversation, and discussions like “Bullying In The Workplace” and “Having It All,” bring followers back for more. Citi has homed in on issues that really get to the heart of what professional women care about, and in turn, they are seeing tremendous engagement and loyalty with more than 70,000 women joining the group in six months. This is the fastest growing group on LinkedIn with members 2.5 times more engaged than the average group, and approximately 324 people joining daily. The groups’ success is no more apparent than in the member-initiated offline events that are organically popping up all over the country.

Embrace Change

We know social media can be noisy, and for brands to break out of the clutter, marketing to mindset will be more critical than ever–especially on professional networks. Knowing this, advertisers can optimize their efforts by aspiring to help professionals achieve their goals and provide them with content that matters. In their efforts, brand marketers must:

  • Recognize the separation between personal and professional networks.
  • Align their brand with emotion by matching messages to the user mindset.
  • Understand the importance that content plays in tapping into emotion on professional networks.

In the end, by applying this strategy across different social networks, marketers will no doubt improve relevance and engagement, and naturally encourage followers to amplify their messages across their vast networks.

–Jonathan Lister oversees the North America advertising sales and operations organization for LinkedIn, working with brands and advertising agencies to help them connect with LinkedIn’s audience.

[Image: Flickr user M@rcello]