In my experience, LinkedIn is one of the most underutilized social media channels. It’s not just a resume channel, but it doesn’t work like other popular social media channels like Facebook. LinkedIn tailors to a very specific audience. If you’re wondering, “what social media channels should I be on?” and Facebook and Instagram don’t seem like the right fit, have a look at LinkedIn.
Who’s using LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the largest professional social network with more than 400 million members located in over 200 countries. LinkedIn’s fastest growing demographic is students and recent college grads (40 million members). Most of LinkedIn’s users live in the United States, though India, Brazil, China, and the UK also have high member numbers.
Unlike most other major social media channels that have predominantly female accounts, LinkedIn is almost 50/50 with 56% of account holders being male.
While everyone seems to feel the need to be on LinkedIn, members spend an average of only 17 minutes a month on the channel. Mind you, that’s an average. There are many power users on LinkedIn, and many others who sign up for accounts and then hardly touch them except to add a work update.
You should be on LinkedIn if…
…your audience is professionals: CEOs, entrepreneurs, investors, and managers. Or, if you’re looking for a job or hiring. If you run a large or growing business and you’re seeking top talent, LinkedIn is very valuable.
LinkedIn is not just a resume site
That’s old-school thinking my friend. Yes, you can use LinkedIn as an online resume. I do! And, LinkedIn profiles get excellent search ratings. Google me and you’ll see that my LinkedIn page shows up on the first page. That’s a key point of contact!
Beyond that, LinkedIn is a networking site. If this is where your audience hangs out, make use of groups, online job listings, connections, article publishing, and advertising. Share updates, re-purpose content from your blog into articles that link back to your website, connect with potential collaborators. There is so much potential!
Why LinkedIn is awesome and why it’s also not awesome
If you’re going to focus on LinkedIn, engage. Join peer groups and groups that cater to your niche. I find the quality of content published to LinkedIn is better than Facebook (no cat videos here!) and the quality of comments is also better than Facebook or Instagram. Replies are typically thoughtful and add value to the conversation.
I like getting connection recommendations on LinkedIn, and following content shared by some of the top entrepreneurs and thought leaders. After being bombarded by quotes and silly posts on other social media channels, LinkedIn is refreshing and educational.
I also think LinkedIn looks better than most other major social media channels. Long strings of text are easier to read, due to the font size and paragraph spacing. Shared articles look clean and ads are present, but they’re not in your face, selling things like cheap t-shirts.
What I’ve found is that it takes digging to find high quality groups and pages on LinkedIn–high quality in terms of engagement. In many groups, group members self-promote by posting their own articles. In a few really big groups I’m a member of, there are often only a few comments on posts (engagement seems to be higher on posts that aren’t self-promotional), and in my experience it often takes a while for other to respond to my comments. I get it though. Professionals are busy. They’re working!
The other thing to note on LinkedIn is that if you want to play big, be prepared to pay. Premium memberships are available for a free trial, but if you want added features like being able to message people you’re not connected to, you’ll want to upgrade. Also, be prepared to pay a bit more for advertising than you would on Facebook. If your target audience clearly hangs out here, then you’re paying more for a higher quality lead, but oftentimes a $25 budget won’t get you far.
I’ve already mentioned some, so I’ll make this brief. Here are some ideas to get started on LinkedIn:
Make sure your profile is complete and optimized. Use keywords in your job title and description. Include past work experience, skills, links to your website and social media channels. Most importantly, write your description like you would write the first paragraph of your cover letter. Explain what you do, what you’re passionate about, and what kind of results you get for customers. Add personality!
Connect. I often get connection requests from people I’ve never met. If we obviously have nothing in common, and I can see they’re only requesting the connection to increase their numbers, I usually decline. However, don’t be shy about requesting connections from people in your community you look up to or would be interested in working with. Make sure you write a personal message in the connection request though, none of that templated crap. Act like you care!
Join groups. I’ve already mentioned this, but it can’t be overstated. Join a few groups where your peers and ideal clients hang out. Comment on thought-provoking articles, offer advice when people ask for it, ask questions. Be a thought leader!
Write articles. Or rather, re-purpose articles or other content for LinkedIn. LinkedIn also owns SlideShare, another great tool for re-purposing your content. Remember that this is a professional audience, so make sure your content is high value and well-written. Spell-check!
Is LinkedIn right for your business? It really depends on the audience. If you’re finding Facebook isn’t really working for you and you’re looking for another big channel to complement Twitter, I highly recommend LinkedIn.
Thoughts? Questions? Pop them in the comments!