11/02/2011 12:50 pm ET | Updated Jan 01, 2012

LinkedIn Fatigue? VW Doesn't Think So

THE SITUATION: There's been some discussion recently that a broad and expanding "social media fatigue" has set in, ( for example, click here) ... and that even users of established sites like LinkedIn are in danger of burning out and disengaging from marketing messages appearing in these media.

THE CASE STUDY: Volkswagen proved in an innovative user-referral campaign that LinkedIn remains a viable and important tool for marketers. The campaign's success suggests that recent news reports of a decline in interest in social media channels like LinkedIn may actually reflect boredom with irrelevant, untargeted content -- a long-standing problem consumers have had with "spray and pray" marketing messages delivered in many different media.

Too many companies try to "sell" on LinkedIn, and forget the necessity of providing a sponsored platform for expressing feelings and opinions within a specific targeted audience, as Volkswagen's "company page" has done for upscale Indian professionals. When the content is relevant and connected directly and credibly to a customer's personal experience and network of acquaintances, the bottom-line results can be stellar. Volkswagen's results bear this out:

  • Over 2500 recommendations of VW autos were generated by the trusted peers of specific users, using LinkedIn's well designed, easy-to-navigate "company page" feature in combination with paid Recommendation Ads. Read more about LinkedIn's "company pages" in this LinkedIn page, and in this overview from B2B Voices ... and find out how Recommendation Ads work in this equally intriguing LinkedIn case study.
  • VW's recommendation total represents an increase of over 500% compared to the target number the company was hoping to generate.
  • The recommendations were generated in a very brief timeframe -- less than 30 days.


Marketing Takeaway #1: LinkedIn's potential for marketers remains robust ... as long as we make sure our messaging remains relevant to the experiences, opinions, and relationships of individual users.

Marketing Takeaway #2: Target your audience carefully. If you're trying to sell low-end consumer home maintenance products as impulse purchases, LinkedIn's upscale audience of aspiring, skeptical professionals isn't the right audience.

Marketing Takeaway #3: Remember that old-fashioned "spray and pray" campaigns will only bore and alienate users -- not just in LinkedIn, but everywhere else as well.

Marketing Takeaway #4: Consider incorporating LinkedIn's "company page" feature and Recommendation Ads into your social media plan. These tools give your customers the opportunity to follow your company and create personal recommendations for specific products and services.

Ernan Roman is President of the marketing consultancy, Ernan Roman Direct Marketing.
Recognized as the industry pioneer who created three transformational methodologies: Integrated Direct Marketing, Opt-In Marketing, and Voice of Customer Relationship Research.

Ernan was recently inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame.

Clients include Microsoft, NBC Universal, Disney, Hewlett-Packard and IBM.

2010-12-08-ernan.jpgErnan was named to "B to B's Who's Who" as one of the "100 most influential people" in Business Marketing by Crain's B to B Magazine.

His fourth and latest book on marketing best practices is titled: Voice of the Customer Marketing: A Proven 5-Step Process to Create Customers Who Care, Spend, and Stay.

Ernan is also the co-author of "Opt-In Marketing: Increase Sales Exponentially with Consensual Marketing" and author of "Integrated Direct Marketing: The Cutting Edge Strategy for Synchronizing Advertising, Direct Mail, Telemarketing and Field Sales."