DhimanMukherji heads Marketing Solutions for LinkedIn in India. He has been in the digital space for nearly a decade starting with Rediff, AOL, and Google before taking up this position at LinkedIn. YourStory caught up with him to find out about how LinkedIn is emerging as the primary B2B marketing platform in India.
Having been with LinkedIn for the past 1.5 years, do you have any specific targets for 2012 given that there are over 15 million Indian users on LinkedIn?
‘We do not go in terms of targets per se. We have a consumer marketing team which keeps a close watch on the numbers but we don’t set specific targets for increasing our users.’ We focus on our existing members and constantly work towards making sure that they see value in our offerings. For us getting our 15 million plus user base to be engaged enough on LinkedIn is a bigger priority than increasing member numbers.
How do you see Indian companiesusing LinkedIn for B2B marketing? Do you see any specific trends in terms of usage?
We’ve seen a healthy trend over the last 2 years. We have a core team that works towards providing customized marketing solutions to our customer.While technology sector has been an early adopter of the platform for B2B marketing, there has been good amount of traction from other sectors as well. And this is more so because companies are now realizing that LinkedIn has a large base of professionals who are at various decision-making positions in organizations. There are various avenues that marketers can get into and in turn reach out to their target group.
Any specific trends in the way Indians are using LinkedIn for hiring or lead generation?
If you are looking at thought leadership which is not exactly about getting leads from people, it is also about starting conversations that matter. So lead generation can be the end motive but it’s not the only motive.LinkedIn is about trust and credibility. It’s about a network of people that you trust because you can choose the people that you want to have a professional relationship with. Based on this attribute of LinkedIn, American Express developed an API plan to leverage the power of a professional’s network. It was lead generation, but in the B2C space.
As someone at the helm of LinkedIn’s marketing India, what does your day to day role look like?
In the last two years, my core job has been to get the marketing solutions business up and running We have a consumer business facing team as well as a team that focuses on building our B2B marketing business. Since our efforts are targeted towards covering as many companies as possible across geographies and sectors, both these teams operate out of offices in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru.
You have had 10 years of experience in digital media with companies like Rediff and AOL. How have you seen the digital space in India evolve?
When I first started working with Rediff.com in 2003, internet penetration in India was still relatively low.Despite the burst of the internet bubble in 1999-2000 a lot of startups that ventured into the digital domain were unable to take their operations to the next level. During my stint with Rediff, I was a part of the team responsible for monetizing content on the internet. At that time, there used to be a demand for cricket feeds, news feeds, etc. Since then there has been a paradigm shift in the way people consume internet. With LinkedIn, I’ve had an opportunity to be a flag bearer of the marketing solutions offerings in India.
Do you see any clear trends for businesses emerging as to how they can leverage social media for their businesses? Especially smaller businesses?
A lot of SMEs are experimenting with the marketing budgets and are moving towards not just social media but also search based media to get leads for their business. The trend is that in social media, they have come to realize that if they have to drive consideration for their products and services, the best way to do that is to be part of a community building process. And a lot of companies now are beginning to look in that direction. Be it a company page sort of a setup in a social context or owning a group of people who are in some way associated with your products/services. So be it thought leadership or driving conversations for your products and services, the trend is very healthy.
For niche digital media platforms there is not much traction in India, yet. Do you see this changing?
Yes, definitely. For LinkedIn, with 15 million users we’re not small anymore. We’re not at nascent stages anymore and at the same time we are growing.
We see a lot of brands using Facebook and Twitter to communicate with their audiences, but do you also see brands coming and leveraging LinkedIn more aggressively in India?
What separates us is the professional context. We lookat two pillars: relevance and context. If we put these two pillars in place, we’ll find that a lot of brands can derive value out of the larger network of professionals and get a high return on their investments..B2Bcompanies like Trendmicro or Cisco, have been advertising with us for the past 2 years and have found that there is a merit in being present on LinkedIn
At the helm of LinkedIn in India, what drives you personally?
This is a life changing role at LinkedIn. This was actually the role I was looking for purely from the intent of doing something totally different. All of us are a part of a revolution that is happening and I’m so glad that I am here in this role. We are changing the way marketers are now beginning to look at online media.
Any advice for entrepreneurs looking to start something in the B2B space?
In B2B, you have to first identify your audience and then find unique ways of engaging with them. A lot of people do that by starting conversations, while a few others do so bycontextually driving communication. Define your brand’s basic objective and then work towards them.