Inside the headquarters of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn: A journey to Silicon Valley

Inside the headquarters of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn: A journey to Silicon Valley

Marketing industry folk are tough to impress. The longer they’ve been in the industry, the more cynical they are.

So when eleven of the best from across Australia, NZ and Asia jump on a plane to San Francisco on a fact-finding mission to delve into some of the best technology companies in the world, the expectations are varied.

Fast forward five days, after visits to Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google and YouTube, and the cynics are now like kids in a candy store, pleading for more.

But it’s not the technology or funky workspaces that have impressed. It’s been the companies themselves. Without fail, each of the businesses has had a clarity in their vision, their goals, their competitive advantage, their values and their culture. We got a special insight into their roadmap and targets for 2014, and it was clear they have a strong leadership to drive and deliver it.

Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn’s CEO, epitomised this. Sitting on a chair in the middle of the room, with no notes and an almost Australian-like down-to-earth manner, he reeled off their vision (to provide economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce) and their values and culture. Not only was it clear, simple and easy to understand, they lived it every day. Their processes and infrastructure. The way they hired. The way they on-boarded their team and then developed and measured their teams’ performance against it. Not corporate gobbledygook, just things that made common sense. It’s clear Jeff Weiner and LinkedIn are happy in their own skin, and march to their own drum. As he says: “You beat the competition by beating yourself.”

Each of the companies is also clear that their data is their competitive advantage. In Australia, 80% of all professionals, 4.7 million people, are on LinkedIn. Combine this data with offline data that’s available, and it’s the greatest source of data around business people in the country. You can now place ads to very specific targets with minimal wastage. Or on a mass reach, double the people are accessing LinkedIn’s personalised content page every day, than are reading Fairfax’s business sections in Sydney and Melbourne. LinkedIn know that the ability for businesses to access this data as they approach their B2B marketing is a game changer.

Likewise, when we spent half a day at Twitter, it was clear the business understands the magic of their data in relation to modern day television viewing. Sixty-four per cent of Americans are on Twitter while watching TV. They understand the different patterns of customer engagement for the different genres of shows, and therefore when brands should continue the conversation, or deliver a timely ad.

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