A great opportunity exists for a tech company to become an industry leader in social media.
A year after it began working with LinkedIn, Google’s social media team has made the transition to its own platform, called Google Plus, with a goal to help companies and individuals build connections and engage more with the wider world.
But it’s a step too far.
The platform has only just started to see use from a small number of major employers.
And LinkedIn is still working out the kinks.
“We’ve had a really hard time scaling the platform in a way that will make it work across all of LinkedIn’s services, so we’re not there yet,” says Matt Mauer, CEO of social media and content company LinkedIn.
That’s where LinkedIn’s “branding and engagement” teams come in.
The company’s core strategy is to build and maintain a brand for its users, including a brand identity for brands and a website that enables users to build their own profiles.
“The biggest challenge is that when people want to interact with your brand, they don’t necessarily know where they’re going to find your company,” says Mauer.
That makes it hard to build a great user experience.
In the meantime, LinkedIn is launching a social media outreach program that gives companies and their employees the chance to get in touch with users and share insights about what their company can offer to businesses.
This is the same approach LinkedIn has used for years to connect with advertisers, but the company is taking a different tack.
For LinkedIn, this isn’t a new concept.
In fact, the company’s strategy for building its brand has been to build brand experiences that make it easy for users to reach out to advertisers and other brands, says Manger.
“This is the most significant challenge that we have ever had,” he says.
LinkedIn has been experimenting with how to create its own branding, but for some companies, it has been a struggle.
One example is Adobe.
The Adobe Creative Cloud platform lets brands and companies use a combination of design and analytics tools to create brand experiences.
“Advertisers don’t want to deal with the human element and their brand is about a product or a service that they sell,” says Adobe CEO and cofounder Michael Lippman.
“That’s why it’s important to have a strong brand, and that’s why we wanted to build that into our platform.”
The team that runs Creative Cloud has been working on a few things for years.
“There was this sense in the back of our minds that we didn’t have to do anything new, but we wanted more people to use it,” says Lippmans marketing director, Ryan Meech.
That meant building a “brand for advertisers” to help brands build a relationship with their audience.
“I think the key here is building a brand to enable a brand experience for users, not just advertisers,” he adds.
And with Google Plus and LinkedIn, the team has a clear strategy to help advertisers and businesses build better brand experiences on their platforms.
“Our job is to help our advertisers build brand experience that is meaningful and interesting for users,” says Mike Wieder, VP of branding at Google.
“For example, Google has a brand that is relevant to a lot of people, but it’s not really relevant to everyone.
We want advertisers to have more and better ways to connect.”
The company also has a tool that will help brands and users learn more about each other.
“It’s a really great opportunity to help organizations understand how to build more relevant brand experiences for people,” says Wieders.
The next stage for LinkedIn is to continue developing the brand for businesses, as well as its ability to help people make connections with their company.
That might include making it easier for people to create a profile or add a new job, or even creating a social graph for businesses.
“As a brand, we have to constantly reinvent ourselves and the tools that we’re building and developing,” says Chris Staley, CEO and president of LinkedIn.
“What is a brand?
What is the core idea of what we do?
And how can we make it more engaging for our users?”
In the end, LinkedIn will likely be the last place a lot people go for a social network, especially one with so many other options.
But with the help of its brands and its ability, it could make it easier to connect, even for those who aren’t necessarily interested in the brand or the company.
“If you’re a brand and you’re not interested in what’s going on with your company, we can help you create a better brand experience,” says Staley.
“So I think the brands have really taken advantage of the opportunities in LinkedIn.”
LinkedIn’s brand is also about building a better user experience, but with an emphasis on what users do with the platform.
“You don’t just want to make it so people can find your brand or find a job or find their contacts or