I’ve heard some Social Media Gurus/Experts refer to LinkedIn as dead, or at a minimum the refer to it as not being social media. I have disagreed with this for a while but never really spoke up.
Until now that is. LinkedIn has a lot to offer, especially in a business context. I hope to help you understand how you can utilize LinkedIn for your business and integrate it into your social media strategy
LinkedIn Roots – Resume
There is no doubt that LinkedIn has its roots in the job market, posting resumes and connecting with employers, head hunters and other career/job related persons. But just like Facebook has it’s roots in college students and replacing their yearbook (remember when you actually had to buy one of those and then had a signing party to have people sign your yearbook? – now we have the wall) and has since moved on to be something much larger, LinkedIn is and can be used the same way.
Yes, if you are looking for a job, or are preparing to look for a job fully flesh out your profile on linked in, expand your network and keep it going.
But what if you are gainfully employed? Or own your own business. How can you use LinkedIn other than to find new employees?
LinkedIn’s version of a Forum – Groups
If you were old enough to remember, have used or even be alive during the BBS days you truly understand what it means to be social in the digital age. Bulletin Board Systems gave way to forums and forums are giving way to Social Media sites. LinkedIn has capitalized on this movement and created Groups. Any one can create a group (much like groups on facebook) but It’s not in the creation of groups that things become social. Unless you have a group that you are bringing there.
This is not a Field of Dreams
You can build it but they still might not come. Why create a group and then work hard to get people to join, and participate in conversations/dialogs? Why not join a group and participate in the conversation there. Groups can be organized around many topics, technology, social media, marketing, or your topic of interest, geographic etc. I even recommend joining groups around your social media tool of choice, mine is twitter.
It has taken 3-5 years to get some groups enough traction and growth to actually sustain daily dialog. I don’t think you are up for that yet. Soon, but not yet.
So you’ve joined a group on LinkedIn, now what?
Now comes the fun part, Listen.
In the group settings you can set it to email you once a day or once a week. I recommend setting this up based on your free time and the amount of content being produced on the specific group.
Listen for a month. Or two perhaps.
You’ll find some great discussions. You’ll learn what people respond to and what is considered appropriate.
I especially pay attention to the posts with the most comments (and will subscribe to these separately if I’m interested)
Once you feel you have the hang of the group, participate, comment and give feedback on an existing topic. Do this for a while. If you are generating beneficial comments other users will network with you. (connect on LinkedIn)
Then after a while you can post your own topics, ask questions get feedback. And generate traffic.
You heard it here folks. LinkedIn can be a traffic driver.
Imagine with me that you join a group of like minded people in your industry, Auto Sales for example. You have listened to the members of the group, started giving them feedback and helping them. Then you post a couple of questions etc. People like what you have to say and are impressed with your intelligence and survival in this rough time. Then you post a link to a new auto dealer trade website that you have launched. Not only will you receive feedback (Hey Joe the site doesn’t display right in IE8) regarding the tool via the LinkedIn Group, but you will introduce this tool to folks who are already actively engaged. They will then engage with your tool.
This also works by cross posting blog content. Or even white papers.
Changes in LinkedIn
I too would like to see changes in the LinkedIn system, like an API so I can watch groups and status updates through RSS or search groups and status updates or update my status through 3rd party apps. Eventually they will do some of these things, until then know that they are making changes, like subgroups and whitepaper ads.
I use LinkedIn differently than I use Twitter or Facebook. I recommend you do the same. I don’t want another Twitter or another Facebook. You as a business need to see the benefits of being on all three and how being social on these will meet your conversion goals.
Remember: Your website should convert.
All other online activities should support your website and it’s conversion of users by driving traffic to your website (lead generation). If your website does not convert do not generate traffic from LinkedIn. (or from anywhere else for that matter)
Feedback: What has been your success stories with LinkedIn?