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LinkedIn – from professional networking to an engagement platform

Olivier Legrand, Head of Marketing Solutions, APAC & Japan, and Ashutosh Gupta, Director of Marketing Solutions, speak about how LinkedIn has grown beyond networking to helping brands connect with their TG

Aanchal kohli | Mumbai | June 4th, 2015

Olivier Legrand and Ashutosh Gupta Olivier Legrand and Ashutosh Gupta

In a world where conversation and communication is ruling over every industry, one platform has been connecting the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. Founded in 2003, LinkedIn has become the world’s largest professional network on the Internet, with more than 364 million members worldwide, including executives from every Fortune 500 company. The company has a diversified business model, with revenues coming from Talent Solutions, Marketing Solutions and Premium Subscription products. Headquartered in Silicon Valley, LinkedIn has offices across the globe. The platform entered India in 2009 and has been growing rapidly year on year.

With Jeff Weiner as CEO, the company’s management team is made up of seasoned executives from companies like Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft, TiVo, PayPal, and Electronic Arts.

During the recently hosted second edition of Finance Connect, spoke to Olivier Legrand, Head of Marketing Solutions, Asia Pacific & Japan, LinkedIn, and Ashutosh Gupta, Director of Marketing Solutions, LinkedIn India, who shared deep insights about the growth and development of LinkedIn, how brands are using the platform, and more. Excerpts:

What is the vision and mission of LinkedIn?

Olivier Legrand: Our mission is simple – to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. When one joins LinkedIn, he/she gets access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help them be great at what they do.

How has LinkedIn evolved over the years?

Olivier Legrand: We went from a professional network of people connecting with each other to how this platform now plays a vital role in every aspect, whether it is hiring or marketing or engaging. Initially it was all about job news and professional networking, but today marketers are seen using LinkedIn to connect with their consumers by way of disseminating content which is more productive and can help them learn from their peers. This is one of the big transformations that we have witnessed in the growth of LinkedIn. Another big evolution in the world of LinkedIn is the consumption and usage of LinkedIn from mobile.

Ashutosh Gupta: As far as India is concerned, we started our operations in 2010 and today, we have 30 million members. LinkedIn in India has given a lot of new opportunities to people to connect with their peers and build their professional identity. Content plays a vital role in India too. Today we have a lot of brands sharing content on LinkedIn, helping build engagement with their consumers.

Are brands using LinkedIn the way they should, globally and in India?

Olivier Legrand: We have helped the brands create an insightful engagement with the consumers and professionals that they need to engage with. There are a few brands that are really optimising and using LinkedIn really well, but there are quite a few brands that are still starting their journey with LinkedIn. LinkedIn plays a vital role in transforming the brand’s marketing strategy.

Ashutosh Gupta: In India, the brands have fairly evolved themselves in terms of tapping the platform and have started understanding the value of engaging with this platform. There are brands like American Express, Bajaj Finserve, Axis Bank, etc., that have already started to utilise LinkedIn, while there are brands who are still trying to start their journey but are at the same time testing and piloting the platform. The situation globally and nationally is pretty similar.

So, is it fair to say that LinkedIn is a compelling tool?

Ashutosh Gupta: Yes, totally! The core objective of marketing function for any brand is to reach out to the right target audience and at the right time give out the right message. So, for this we have a very well designed value proposition for the brands. When a person creates a profile on LinkedIn, we get to know the professional details of that person and that data acts like an important element while helping a brand reach its target audience.

How does LinkedIn’s revenue model work?

Olivier Legrand: LinkedIn is publicly held and has a diversified business model with revenues coming from member subscriptions, advertising sales, and talent solutions.

What kind of growth did LinkedIn witness in the first quarter of 2015?

Olivier Legrand: It has been good. LinkedIn Corporation reported revenue s of $638 million in the first quarter of 2015, an increase of 35 per cent compared to $473 million in the first quarter of 2014.

What will be the plan of action for LinkedIn going forward?

Olivier Legrand: We will continue to build our consumer base and gear up for adding more professionals and brands to our base. We will continue to build LinkedIn along our three business lines – hiring, marketing and selling.

Ashutosh Gupta: In India, too, we will keep growing our members at a good pace.

What is LinkedIn Finance Connect?

Olivier Legrand: The finance sector is a key focus area for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions in India and LinkedIn Finance Connect is targeted specifically at marketers in this sector. Finance Connect was held in India for the second time, after its success in New York, Sydney, Sao Paulo and Toronto.

In today’s growing climate of market disruption, financial institutions need to find innovative ways to reach their audiences in order to build and nurture prospects. Social media elevates the importance of relationships, and many firms recognise the value of leveraging technology to tap into the power of networks to achieve that goal. At LinkedIn Finance Connect, marketers can learn firsthand how leading brands and financial institutions are harnessing the power of social and digital engagement to meet their marketing goals.

How would you define your stint with LinkedIn?

Ashutosh Gupta: My focus at LinkedIn is to scale up the local Marketing Solutions business with an endeavour to engage with customers and provide them with customised and result-oriented solutions to reach out to their target group. So far, it has been a wonderful journey.

Olivier Legrand: It has been a great journey so far and in my present role, I oversee the regional Marketing Solutions team to help accelerate the growth of LinkedIn in Asia Pacific and Japan. I work closely with Hari Krishnan, Managing Director, Asia Pacific and Japan, to build and strengthen relationships with key clients in the region.

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