Social Media Marketing: It’s All in the Mindset

LinkedIn proves that by understanding your audience’s mindset, professional social networks can boost user engagement.

LinkedIn proves that by understanding your audience’s mindset, professional social networks can boost user engagement

By Gary Fearnall

As people, we’re acutely aware that we behave differently depending on where we are and who we are with. The Mindset Divide, an in-depth research study LinkedIn has undertaken with leading global market research company TNS, proves that the same distinction exists within social media as well. People occupy very different mindsets when using professional networks as opposed to personal networks. If marketers are to make more effective use of social media, they must tailor their strategies to the different roles that these networks perform—and the very different emotions that people feel when using them.

Marketers developing strategies for social networks sometimes forget that professionals are people too, assuming that emotion has no place in the mindset of the professional networker. In fact, our study shows that people experience profound emotion when engaged with platforms such as LinkedIn. They just experience different emotions when using Twitter or Facebook.

On personal networks, users freely express emotions in their interactions, and these are the emotions of the moment: fun, whimsical, focused on entertainment or reminiscing with friends and family. The emotions engaged when using professional networks lie just below the surface, perhaps less freely expressed in conversation, but if anything, more deeply felt. They are purposeful, personal and aspirational, focused on establishing and maintaining an identity, achieving goals and happiness. This mindset results in users taking on a more influential role themselves: 15% are more likely to be first in the know and 7% are more likely to share knowledge with others.

Crucially for marketers, people in the professional mindset are also significantly more focused on the role of brands in their lives, listing updates from brands as one of the top three types of content they expect to encounter. On personal networks, brand activity doesn’t rank nearly as high. In fact, updates from brands are 26% less likely to be mentioned than in the personal network mindset.

When it comes to brands, the type of activity expected also varies between professional and personal networks. Professional network users expect the brands they encounter to improve them professionally (15% of users), help them to make business decisions (10%) and give them advice and recommendations (5%). Personal network users want brands, above all, to entertain them (10%), although brands that reflect their personal interests (6%) or express their personality (4%) also have a role to play.

These findings suggest that social media marketers miss a major trick if they assume that professional networks are no place for emotion or brand engagement. In fact, the key to a successful social media strategy seems to lie in making use of both personal and professional networks, adapting activity and brand engagement for each mindset. In the case of a professional network such as LinkedIn, this means more purposeful activity, focused on helping to achieve life goals and leveraging members’ appetite for influencing others.