LinkedIn has a unique audience, driven, motivated and successful. They know what they want, and they’re prepared to pay to get it. It generates leads, jobs, writing opportunities, pageviews…it’s genuinely quite incredible.
So what’s the secret of this particular social media’s high hit rate, and why isn’t it used as much as, say, Twitter and Facebook?
Unlike lovely fluffy social media platforms, LinkedIn doesn’t target you as a person; it doesn’t want to know how you feel, what you thought of the Avengers movie or what you had for breakfast – it targets the relevant information that you possess and want to share in business. In other words, on LinkedIn content is king.
Yes, this is the mantra for everyone in digital marketing, but the threshold for ‘good content’ varies from platform to platform. On Twitter highly-followed users can get away with generic platitudes and trend-following, while on Facebook interesting links are enough to keep people interacting with you.
LinkedIn is, and has always been, about technical details, juicy business deals, and professional development.
What LinkedIn did was predict the current trend towards social platforms that offer something that is interesting in-and-of itself. I’m talking here about Pinterest in its own fashion-y, glamorous, high-end niche, and of course, Slideshare, which is probably why LinkedIn just up and bought the thing.
LinkedIn is very targeted in the business information it shares and how it allows you to share it. Instead of building a social network on shared social experience, LinkedIn builds networks through experience and contacts. These contacts are invested in you, and have decided that they trust you and need the information you have to offer.
There is no (significant) #teamfollowback on LinkedIn. What’s more, with the acquisition of Slideshare it has announced its intention to develop and expand on its key business audience. LinkedIn could well end up as an enormous swirling nexus of white papers, innovative initiatives and high quality, audience-tailored, interesting and original content.
If you jump on-board sooner rather than later, you will be that one step ahead of the competition.
Supply & Demand
Unsuccessful social networks have been amorphous sharing sites that evolved due to their usage. MySpace, launched as a platform to share with friends, became a music platform as a by-product of how it was used to share music – especially as a way for emerging bands to distribute their content.
MySpace, of course, is now about as relevant to most people as Geocities. Spotify and Grooveshark are filling its niche better already, because they were built for one purpose.
LinkedIn was built for one purpose and end-goal, to facilitate business and business connections
The tagline that confronts you on the LinkedIn homepage informs you that you can ‘Control your professional identity online’. This is the key to the way that people use the network. Your professional identity will contain a vastly different set of characteristics than your Facebook profile, and is used for a different purpose.
Well, I hope it would anyway.
Your contacts on LinkedIn are neither your ‘friends’ nor your ‘followers’. They won’t feel bad if they don’t retweet something you said, or don’t like a link you posted. They’re looking for you to give them something, and in return what you get is respect and exposure.
Fluff is out.
Check out the section LinkedIn has for answering questions, for instance, and compare with Yahoo! Answers (not fair, I know, but the difference is more dramatic than it is for the mid-market Q&A sites such as Quora).
You won’t find a “how is babby formed?” from barely coherent teenagers here, instead you get questions like “How can I find out what legal rights the bondholders of a plc (Thomas Cook) are. Such as insolvency rights, issuing legal entity of the bonds etc?”
As Missy Elliott might say,
Bus, this is serious, man.
Networking, Networking And More Networking…
LinkedIn, also acts as a business networking tool. The opportunity to have a direct line of contact with the lead people in your industry, with a clear picture of where their skills lie and what they can do for you, is a big draw to a businessperson in any sector.
However, you could well end up being burned if you believe everything you read on a user’s profile. Just like a real life C.V., credentials will be over-inflated and over-emphasised. Being cautious and asking tough questions will pay dividends.
You could also end up looking foolish if you try to use LinkedIn like a typical social media network. LinkedIn is for professionals. Broadly speaking, very few of them will be interested in the computer game that just came out, why Deadpool would beat Batman in a fight any day (the man can regrow from a head!), or what Confucius may or may not have said.
Your typical social media platform is broad, b2c, casual and aimed at the ordinary user. LinkedIn, by contrast, is narrow, mostly b2b, professional and aimed at power users. You simply cannot use it in the same way.
LinkedIn For Business
Used correctly, LinkedIn is a mighty business tool. Unfortunately for the creators, there is no easy way to tell the results that have been generated by the network – many leads will move on to email and phone contact – but if the number of active and intelligent users is anything to go by, getting engaged now will prove a sound investment.
Businesses and professional bloggers that are linked in with LinkedIn are already seeing the benefits, too. An inShare or two can bring huge rewards in terms of highly focussed, interested visits who already trust you because LinkedIn profiles are inherently more difficult to fake than Twitter or Facebook profiles.
Pageviews, conversions and goal completions can all rise relatively sharply with just a few inShares. This is fortunate, as the number of shares is typically very low and unpredictable. Your own experience may well differ from this, though, especially if you have highly technical and detailed content.
Are You On LinkedIn?
Does your business already use LinkedIn? If so, how have you been using it, and what have your own results been? Let us know in the comments section!