There was once a time when the question ‘what can corporations learn from Ryan Reynolds?’ would have yielded perplexed looks from the business community. Reynolds is an entertainment A-lister, known for his wisecracking role in adult anti-hero film Deadpool as well as flicks like The Proposal and Foolproof. What then, would he be doing using LinkedIn?
However, fast forward to today, and with the football-documentary juggernaut that is Welcome To Wrexham firmly behind him, and Reynolds is showing everyone a thing or two about how to tackle business social media comms via href="https://www.ft.com/content/e718b81c-b1ce-4c50-be7b-579c9079144f?accessToken=zwAF_-THkCPgkdPnGLgcsc5MUNO-e1eckHkUTw.MEQCIHVWnMaCliUJzB5JtmJuBezL1GMk6uHajlXRJtRQhpWjAiAwL8wZvO_H1lWr4s4CxuPkF-RrFopspxOxuL3-fo0t-w&sharetype=gift&token=df2244e0-cff3-4faf-811c-2adbcb68510f" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Linkedin profile.
Reynolds’ profile alone prompts questions around the evolution of LinkedIn. In part, it can be considered a strategic move to help transform his image from Hollywood actor to businessman. Others could view it as playfully making light of how the world has ‘gone corporate’.
Though a useful function for recruiting new talent, LinkedIn’s potential now extends far beyond that – the platform has become a lead-generation behemoth and a key channel in any successful social media strategy. As for Reynolds, he has created a brand for himself through a combination of video, self-deprecating humour, edgy launches (think the Wrexham United Airlines deal announcement) and creativity in the content he shares. This fresh approach challenges some of the less creative content that many LinkedIn users can be guilty of sharing and provides a blueprint to success for building a professional image or brand.
Building a strategy: why LinkedIn?
LinkedIn’s corporate leaning might require a different approach to the more consumer-orientated platforms, but its value is clear to see for companies across all sectors.
Similarly to how the world of work has undergone seismic changes in the past decade, so too has the way we use social media in a corporate context. As of May 2023, the platform has 930 million users, over 59 million of which are businesses. The growing number of people using the network increases the opportunity for mass exposure and valuable engagement.
As we have touched on, marketers place a huge amount of focus on LinkedIn when it comes to lead generation. Recent surveys have indicated that 40% of B2B marketeers believe the platform to be “most effective channel for driving high-quality leads”, second only to Google AdWords. 35% consider LinkedIn to be the most important channel within their social media roster, whilst just about every marketer (98% to be precise) views LinkedIn as a great place for content marketing.
By providing a space for brands to tell a story in a format as succinct as a Facebook post, LinkedIn has become a go-to content hub – whether that be sharing business updates, launching creative campaigns, or posting a topical thought leadership piece.
Joining the conversation
LinkedIn has become a hub for business leaders to enter corporate discourse in a meaningful way. By staying so close to the thoughts of business leaders and their mission, users of the platform are better positioned to feel an affinity with them. We’re also given the opportunity to actively engage with others in debate and conversation which many other channels do not offer.
For many of our clients, LinkedIn has become an extension of more traditional thought leadership programmes targeted towards print or online media outlets. Alongside profile slots on the likes of Sky News, or op-eds in national titles, LinkedIn is a place in which C-Suite executives and business owners can present themselves as a sector leader, imparting their opinion, commentary and key company messages to huge audiences, be it their own existing connections or the large communities scattered across different sectors.
It also allows us to have discussions with clients and colleagues online, sharing views while also demonstrating expertise and knowledge. Asking a question on LinkedIn can be a powerful move. As simple post which ask colleagues to respond to get the ball rolling can prompt healthy debate.
Where required, this can be extended to the setting up of specific groups to encourage conversation and debate about certain topics and allowing other business leaders to join the community.
A new age of the ‘LinkedIn influencer’
The term ‘social influencer’ may have its strongest associations with Instagram, but individuals have brought the concept firmly into the corporate realm, from renowned CEOs to budding entrepreneurs. As well as Ryan Reynolds, top names include the likes of Bill Gates and Richard Branson, but also individuals such as journalist Suzanne Bearne and creative director and TikTok comedian Rob Mayhew for whom LinkedIn has played a fundamental role in building their public profile, sometimes through satirical or amusing posts which have a track record of going ‘viral’.
As increasing numbers of businesses recognise the potential that LinkedIn can bring to their communications strategy, the challenge is now at the door of corporates to use the platform in a far more creative way and tell their stories to a fast-growing audience.