Q&A: LinkedIn UK Head of Brand Marketing Zara Easton on Gen Z engagement strategies

Mobile Marketing Magazine sits down with LinkedIn UK’s Head of Brand Marketing, Zara Easton, to discuss Gen Z engagement and AI integration, successful brand marketing strategies and how brands can foster community and engagement on the social media platform.

Q: How has LinkedIn evolved as a key platform for brand marketing, especially in the professional space?

“We now have more than one billion members across the globe who come to LinkedIn to connect, learn, sell and get hired, and our growing professional community presents a huge opportunity for brands and businesses to reach and engage their audiences. 

“Our rich professional data including job title, industry, seniority, geography and skills, is our superpower and makes it easy for brands to segment and reach audiences with precision, including decision-makers and C-suite executives.

“We’re constantly innovating our ad formats, products and services to help brands reach audiences in new and engaging ways.  For instance, recognising the need for brands to authentically communicate at scale through real-life advocates and build brand equity, we recently launched Thought Leader Ads – to enable companies to sponsor content from employees, executives, and members. 

“We’re seeing brands bolster creative campaigns on LinkedIn which is exciting to see. We know that proving the impact of marketing on the bottom line is one of the biggest challenges facing marketers today, and to help we’ve launched new measurement tools such as the Revenue Attribution Report that enable marketers to build financial fluency and communicate effectively with the CFO.

“As a brand, we’re also setting an example for what creative campaigns for a professional audience can look like. Our recent ‘LinkedIn Knows How’ campaign aimed at Gen Z professionals, is an example of how brands can connect with professional audiences by building relevant and relatable content.”

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Q: How important is authenticity in brand storytelling, and how can brands maintain a genuine connection with their audience on LinkedIn?

“It’s critical for brands to have an authentic connection with audiences, tapping into real pain points and the external environment – that’s how you build trust and relevance. My team has recently done this in our latest campaign that targets Gen Z and those starting out in their careers.

“We wanted to build a memorable brand film that heightened those everyday feelings we have all experienced at work, such as trying to understand workplace jargon and the hesitancy to ask for help. 

“We tapped into the human truth that it can be impossible to know where to start, with a view to helping them grow their careers during a period of time in which the world of work was changing so quickly.

“Alongside the TV spot that we developed with our in-house creative team, we also partnered with creative agency, VCCP to create a live activation: ‘Know-How To Go’ coffee truck with a twist.

“Gen Z are famously the microlearning and coffee-culture generation so the idea was for us to use this as an opportunity to create a genuine connection with them in real life, whilst they dive into a career-boosting chat over a cup of coffee, and enjoy some easy learning on their daily commute. 

“Alongside this, we shared practical advice on LinkedIn through expert, influential voices to build a direct connection to our audience.”

Q: LinkedIn caters to a professional audience, how can brands tailor their messaging to effectively resonate with this demographic?

“Emotion, storytelling, and authenticity are all factors which are crucial but often overlooked when communicating with professional audiences, resulting in a brand that may feel unmemorable. For brands to stand out and become top of mind, it’s important to be bold and dynamic.

“One of the pitfalls we often see from brands is that they “over-correct” to cater to a professional audience. This group accounts for over 25% of the population in the UK, and general workers account for over two-thirds, so we recommend still thinking about human-to-human mass communications.”

Q: What role does thought leadership play in brand marketing on LinkedIn, and how can brands establish themselves as industry leaders?

“Thought leadership is a powerful tool in brand marketing, which enables brands to share valuable industry expertise and build trust and credibility – ultimately helping them to humanise their brands. 

“The brilliant aspect of our platform is that it democratises thought leadership and allows anyone to share their views on a trusted platform. 

“In terms of industry leaders, we’re seeing a diverse range of influential voices including entrepreneurs, industry experts and C-level executives coming to LinkedIn to share company news exclusively on the platform, including product innovation announcements, mergers and acquisitions, and company earnings.

“We are seeing a 9% year-over-year increase in the number of posts from C-level members, and these posts range from company updates and workplace policies to behind-the-scenes at industry events, meetings, and work trips, offering a glimpse into the organisation’s culture and boosting the company’s employer brand. 

“By putting executives at the heart of corporate strategy on LinkedIn, companies are building greater brand equity with customers and employees.”

Q: What are some current trends in brand marketing on LinkedIn, and how can brands stay ahead of the curve?

“One of the audiences that most brands are focused on today is Gen Z – including their buying behaviours, lifestyle choices, learning habits, and outlook on their careers. 

“They are the fastest-growing audience on LinkedIn, and this is why we launched our new brand campaign specifically for this group. A key trend we picked up alongside developing our campaign was the intergenerational differences we are witnessing and the need to address generational gaps in the workplace, and we expect this trend to continue to be front of mind for professionals and brands.

“In addition to Gen Z, unsurprisingly, AI is here to stay as a topic, and it’s an exciting time to see how marketers will continue to leverage AI tools in their day-to-day jobs to be more creative and productive. To uncover new trends, we always suggest to marketers to follow key thought-leaders, and pages on LinkedIn, or to follow LinkedIn News to stay ahead of the curve.”

Q: Are there any specific industries or sectors that you’ve observed achieving notable success in their LinkedIn brand marketing strategies? 

“We’ve partnered with some of the biggest brands in the world including Dove, Headspace, and Virgin to create authentic brand stories and to lead the way in how you can build powerful B2C campaigns on LinkedIn. Like these campaigns, notable successes on LinkedIn have come from smart thinking on how you can use the platform creatively to drive a bigger impact amongst our 1 billion members.

“In B2B, Santander’s ‘Connections’ ad featuring actor Brian Cox, is a great example of how B2B companies are investing in building creative, memorable, and innovative campaigns to build their brands.”

Q: How can brands foster a sense of community and encourage meaningful engagement among their LinkedIn followers?

“A big tip for brands who are looking to create community amongst their followers is sharing your views, insights, and knowledge regularly. 

“Consistent posting helps build trust, fuels deeper levels of engagement, and keeps your audience coming back for more insights. It’s also important to vary your content – video continues to dominate LinkedIn as the top format, so experiment with long or short-form posts, videos, and visuals to bring your insights or brand message to life.

“As brands look to leverage executives as thought leaders, it’s important to support leaders with guidance and training to cultivate a distinctive voice. Encouraging executives to share personal anecdotes and speak authentically around topics like leadership, company culture, company values, and work-related content can help organisations humanise their brands, reach a wider audience, and build an engaged following. 

“Ultimately, people trust people, and this is a key driving insight to building community and driving meaningful engagement.”