The founder of LinkedIn once remarked on the differences between popular social networking websites of the time, stating that based on the way he sees it, MySpace is the bar, Facebook is the BBQ in the backyard and LinkedIn is the office.
From this perspective, different social media platforms like those referenced above do not need to compete, because each is operating on a different level with a different target audience in mind. For those targeting business professionals, the obvious king of this domain has always been LinkedIn.
As The Big Four series comes to a close, we’ll end by taking a look at social networking all dressed up for work. We will explore the origins of LinkedIn, what this platform does and how you can use it to your advantage in marketing your product, service, or personal brand.
Founded in late 2002 and launched in early 2003, LinkedIn currently boasts of having over 70 million registered users in over 200 countries and territories worldwide. The company claims that, “LinkedIn strengthens and extends your existing network of trusted contacts. LinkedIn is a networking tool that helps you discover inside connections to recommended job candidates, industry experts and business partners.”
If you’re a complete newbie to social media (that’s okay!) then check out the official explanation video below for a more in-depth summary of what the LinkedIn platform offers. Otherwise, just skip it, you social networking veterans!
Okay, now for the important stuff. What can LinkedIn do for you? Well, if this unique network targets those in the business community, you can expect a far different reception from fellow users than on Facebook. LinkedIn members are looking more for information and connections that will benefit themselves or their brands professionally. They might want to interact on a simple social level, but this is not the main goal or else they would be on Facebook, where the majority of their family and friends surely gravitates.
No, they’ve chosen to situate themselves on LinkedIn for a very specific reason: they want to mingle with professionally-driven individuals who take more of an interest in working hard than playing hard. This is an important difference between LinkedIn and all of the other social networks we’ve covered thus far. If you approach this platform with a purely casual attitude, you’re going to be moved to the back burner.
Instead, the key should be in demonstrating your product, service, business or personal brand as a leading contender in your market, whatever that may be. Show that you are well-informed by turning out good content and linking to it on LinkedIn. For instance, import your blog feed into your profile. If you don’t have a blog (gasp!) you better get started on building one, because as we will surely cover in a later article, blogs are essential tools in the social media marketer’s bag of tricks. But I’ve digressed…
As I was saying, demonstrate your ability to be useful to others on LinkedIn, because that is what the users are looking for. Always think about every move with the user in mind. In this case, think in terms of concrete questions that they may pose to you and your content, such as: How can this benefit me? Why should I connect with this person? What credibility does this person have?
By thinking like a LinkedIn user, you’re able to deliver useful content and make useful connections on this network that consists primarily of people looking to boost their own status rather than simply helping you boost yours. There is however, one important thing that I left out when I advised you to act differently.
Remember that whole thing about being trusted and building honest relationships with people? Well that applies on every network in the real world and online. Don’t ever try to be someone you’re not. Don’t profess to know more about something when you don’t. Give credit where credit is due, and always stay humble. People will respect you for it, and in doing so you will earn their trust. Simply put, just don’t take advantage of people. In summary, LinkedIn is a great place to interact with professionals who don’t otherwise have time for social networking. To them, LinkedIn is an extension of their office, so respect that fact.
Down the road I see great things lined up for this rather interesting social network. Think back to Facebook circa 2005 and that’s where I currently see LinkedIn. They are growing at a very healthy rate and just as MySpace capitalized on the music market and Facebook capitalized on mimicking real life interactions, I see LinkedIn becoming the digital office of the future.
As this concludes The Big Four series, I hope you’ve learned something from my articles. In Part I we looked at Facebook, Part II covered YouTube, Part III explored Twitter and finally here we are at LinkedIn. I will surely revisit these networks in the future, because of their vast and ever-changing nature. For instance, expect some detailed coverage of Facebook and their privacy issues in days to follow. Until then, happy surfing!