As a social media user, do you find yourself in a different frame of mind when you log in to a personal social network like Pinterest compared to a more professional social network like LinkedIn? Whether you realize it or not, you probably are, according to LinkedIn and TNS's new study of 6,000+ social media users across 12 countries, aimed at uncovering how marketers can tap into users' different mindsets on personal and professional social networks. Get ready. Things are about to get a little psychological on the blog.
Marketing to the Mindset
The new research emphasizes the concept of "The Mindset Divide," that social networkers have different needs, interests, and emotional drivers that put them in a particular frame of mind depending on which type of social networking -- personal or professional -- they're engaging in. And as a result, marketers must make an effort to understand what these different mindsets are so they can better align their social media marketing strategies and tactics with their audience's frame of mind on different social networks. In other words, we must learn to "market to the mindset."
To us, this makes perfect sense. It's pretty easy to understand how someone logging in to Facebook to connect with their friends from high school would be in a different frame of mind than if they were logging in to LinkedIn, where their goal might be to gather information and insights to help them in their career.
Key Research Findings
Curious about what the study revealed? Check out LinkedIn's infographic below, which highlights some of the most interesting tidbits.
(Click infographic to enlarge.)
Applying Mindsets to Your Social Media Marketing Strategy
So how should this research apply to your own social media marketing strategy? In essence, the key is to adapt your marketing to the way people use different types of social networks, in terms of variables like messaging, positioning, the types of content and information you share, and the tone of voice you use.
According to the report, "professional" and "personal" social networks were classified in the following way, based on how survey respondents identified the majority of their connections:
Professional Networks: Linkedin, BranchOut, BeKnown, Viadeo, Xing
Personal Networks: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Orkut
One of the most useful nuggets of information from the study is the following, which highlights the type of content people expect from personal social networks (left) vs. the content they expect from professional social networks (right):
Knowing this information, you might tailor your messaging on personal social networks to be more entertaining, casual, and focused on the interests of your audience rather than being heavily brand-focused. On the other hand, for a professional social network like LinkedIn, you'd probably want your updates to be more industry-focused and brand-centric.
That being said, it's important to recognize that while the report classifies individual social networks as "personal" or "professional," that's not to say that all users are using a particular social network exclusively in one particular way. Sure, you could assume that a site like LinkedIn is being used more exclusively as a professional social network, and besides marketers, users of a site like Pinterest probably aren't users for any reason other than for personal use, but the lines are certainly a bit blurrier for other social networks like Twitter and Facebook. From a personal perspective, I mainly use Twitter for professional networking, and I use Facebook for a combination of the two.
So while it's definitely beneficial to understand the general mindsets and emotional drivers for usage of a particular social network, keep in mind that the specific mindsets of your own particular audience should be the ultimate foundation of your strategic social media marketing decisions on a given social network. Experiment with different types of updates, track your analytics, and let the data about what works and what doesn't drive your social media marketing decision-making.
What do you think of LinkedIn's new research? How will you use it to adapt your social media marketing strategy?
Originally published Sep 20, 2012 12:00:00 PM, updated October 20 2016