With all the raving about Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, the redheaded stepchild is often LinkedIn. Too few business folks know how to make good use of this powerful tool. Some have a profile because they have been told it is a good idea. Others, because they have heard it is a good job search tool. Yet, there are so many ways that LinkedIn can help you become a better marketer.
As the leading social media tool aimed at business executives, LinkedIn boasts 150 million users. As indicated in the infographic, most users subscribe only to the free version, with only about 8% who use the paid version with additional bells & whistles. Much has been written about the almost addictive level of engagement social networks enjoy; 12% of LinkedIn users spend 5-6 hours a week on the system, 26% are moderately engaged at 3-4 hours/week, and about 48% fall into the 0-2 hours category.
When people use a social media tool, one of the primary motivators is to connect and network. However, about 30% of subscribers have 100 connections or less. Another 30% have 300 or more; approximately 40% have between 100 and 300. While we could get into a point/counterpoint discussion for hours on the value of quality versus quantity of contacts, that conversation would seem to apply only to the choice of LinkedIn strategy between the two groups with the largest number of connections. The larger question looms as to why some, claiming that they have created a profile on LinkedIn in order to connect, have only made 100 connections or less.
Among favorite features, the Groups capability ranks highest, followed by the ability to search for people and the ability to be reminded of people we may know. Again, of those who join groups, fully 45% are members of 10 groups or less. It is important here to distinguish between members and participants. Most who are not “power users” of LinkedIn do not make the most of the Groups feature. By choosing not to read and respond to discussion board posts, the user decreases the value of the tool to themselves. When someone does use the search or people known features, they may not take the next step and ask for an introduction by someone who is able to help build the “triangle of trust” to the targeted contact.
The ways that LinkedIn has been most helpful to subscribers are numerous, but the top three are:
- Researching people and companies
- Reconnecting with past associates
- Networking to find prospects
If it is not your habit of using LinkedIn for these important business functions, you are missing out on a great opportunity. LinkedIn is a tool of choice for those who understand its value. For it to become powerful for you, learn it better and explore ways to make the features work for you.