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Is LinkedIn Still a Valuable Marketing Tool?

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What’s Your Take on LinkedIn?

With profiles for over 135 million users and seven million companies, LinkedIn is a rapidly growing social network—adding as many as one new member every second, according to reports from Mashable, and considered the most important network by 60 percent of those tested in a recent social media study. Yet despite this continued growth, to a lot of businesses, the true value of LinkedIn as a corporate-focused social network seems unclear. Amongst popular networking tools like Facebook and Twitter, how does LinkedIn compare? Is it still worthwhile to invest time and resources into? Should your business be active on LinkedIn? And if so, why? What difference could it make?

To answer those questions, we took a look at what some social media thought leaders, various publications and other businesses have had to say about LinkedIn. Consider these opinions:

Perspective #1: LinkedIn Is Loaded with Potential.

chris brogan“LinkedIn is the de facto online social network for business types. The thing is, lots of people are ‘on there’ but aren’t necessarily using it to the fullest.” Chris Brogan,

“Despite it being the third largest social network, LinkedIn still seems like that social network in the corner that people forget is there. That’s why having a LinkedIn company page is so crucial. Have your sales team send prospective customers to the page to check out new products and services. Add status updates in a location that few others are doing so. The best thing about LinkedIn is that there’s tons of uncharted territory, especially in the construction industry.” Carrie Ann, Industry Leaders Magazine

guy kawasaki“Most people use LinkedIn to ‘get to someone’ in order to make a sale, form a partnership, or get a job. It works well for this because it is an online network of more than 8.5 million experienced professionals from around the world representing 130 industries. However, it is a tool that is under-utilized.”  Guy Kawasaki, How to Change the World

Perspective #2: LinkedIn Leads to New Connections & Business.

lisa barone“Unlike the other social networks, people swarm to LinkedIn for one reason – to connect with others for business-related reasons. They’re looking for future vendors or job prospects or a way to build a resume they can cash in on later. Because the mindset of a typical LinkedIn user is much more focused than, say, that of a Twitter user, LinkedIn is the perfect platform to reach out and connect for business reasons. As a small business owner, you can use LinkedIn to find vendors you can outsource things to, connect with others in your industry you can partner with down the road, and more. People are on LinkedIn with the sole purpose of connecting for business reasons. Take advantage of it.” Lisa Barone, Small Business Trends

zeke camusio“With the dizzying number of social networking sites that have sprung up in recent years, trying to select the most worthwhile for your business can be a daunting task. However, there is one that stands out. Created in 2003, LinkedIn is the ONE social network that you, as an entrepreneur or business owner, should join. The goal for any business person joining LinkedIn is not to add friends and swap stories and pictures, but rather, to make new business connections.” Zeke Camusio, Startup Nation

jennifer laycock“[LinkedIn] is actually one of the world’s best networking tools … The real value of LinkedIn is in using it to discover the hidden connections among my network and the rest of the world.” Jennifer Laycock, Search Engine Guide

“Twitter and Facebook are both great places for B-2-C while LinkedIn can be a great way to go if you want to market to consumers and businesses. “Mary Rosenbaum, Fox Small Business Center

lewis howes“I have seen people build their entire business, market a number of products and services, sell out their paid events, and become thought leaders in their niche all around a single LinkedIn group.” Lewis Howes,

Perspective #3: LinkedIn Is a Huge Waste of Time.

“Seven out of 10 journalists investigated in the Newswise study had user profiles on LinkedIn, and 42% of them responded to requests to connect via the social networking site. Among the journalists who replied to the survey, 75% confirmed that they use LinkedIn and gave detailed responses about their attitudes and perceptions of the value of social networking. In spite of this widespread participation, a majority of respondents indicated that the value of LinkedIn was unclear.” Newswise press release

jeff atwood“I’ve been a member of LinkedIn for almost two years now. I dutifully entered my credentials and kept them up to date. The only other interaction I’ve had with the service since then has been a continual stream of link requests. I’m selective about who I approve, limiting it to people I’ve only met in real life. And the net benefit of this selectivity? As far as I can tell, zilch. Nada. Nothing. I did get a cold call from a headhunter once based on my LinkedIn profile, but I don’t consider that a benefit.

Has this service ever been useful to anyone? I’m telling you, LinkedIn is the digital equivalent of a chain letter. If you really want to contact a friend of a friend (of a friend), just pick up the phone or send an email. If the only way you can reach someone is through this nutty online social pyramid scheme, you don’t deserve to be taken seriously. And I can guarantee that you won’t be.” Jeff Atwood, Coding Horror

ted samson“Based on all the people who have signed up with LinkedIn, there must be some demand for a professional social network, a place for networking, collaboration, brainstorming, idea-sharing, finding resources, and the like. But if the site is going to simply be a place where professionals get nothing but sales pitches, unsolicited job offers, and a Facebook-esque feed in exchange for their valuable data (and time), they have no reason to stick around.” Ted Samson, InfoWorld

“I’m sorry, I just don’t get it.  I’m sure it’s me and I’m just not making the most of LinkedIn, but before I spend any time and energy on a social networking site, I’ve gotta get something back from it, anything! The whole LinkedIn thing seems like a colossal waste of time.  Aside from some creepy people from my past, no one of value has reached out to me in over three years of having a profile.” Joshua M. Brown, The Faster Times

ernst-jan pfauth“Yesterday a business student interviewed me for his master thesis about the perceived trustworthiness within social networking sites. He wanted to know how I shaped my judgments about people on LinkedIn. His last question blew me away, although is was very simple. ‘How will LinkedIn be evolved in five years?’. I had never really thought about this. After a few minutes, I realized my LinkedIn network will be quite useless then. When we were discussing this devaluation, we both acknowledged it had two main reasons. We’re too friendly, and a lot of people go separate ways.” Ernst-Jan Pfauth, The Next Web

Perspective #4: It’s Not Magic, and It’s Not a Waste of Time. LinkedIn Is All about What You Put into It.

tom anderson“Part of the reason our LinkedIn metrics are so high [is because of the fact that I am rather active in [a] group I founded and moderated which this weekend hit the 14,000 member mark. Still I think many underestimate the power of actively managing a brand via your network and groups on LinkedIn.” Tom Anderson, Smart Data Collective

“Like any social media tool, LinkedIn is about creating and nurturing relationships so make sure you put out the welcome mat. ‘It’s important to be known for being approachable, visible, and helpful in groups by sharing information, leading discussions, and contributing to the conversation,’ [Barbara] Rozgonyi [of WiredPRWorks] says. To achieve this, make a list of people you want to stay in touch with and follow their updates, leaving comments, and engaging in conversation. When you send your invitations, let people know why you want to connect and thank them for their consideration. And when you accept an invitation, offer to answer questions or exchange ideas about your area of expertise.  Ask them a question to get a conversation going, just as you would at a networking event.” Marla Tabaka, Inc. Magazine

lewis howes“Although LinkedIn has been great for job seekers during the most recent economic cycle, it is much much more than that.  Individuals and companies are achieving more professional goals than imaginable on LinkedIn.  For example, LinkedIn can help you:

  • Sell products
  • Find new clients or employees
  • Generate leads
  • Receive funding for your company
  • Obtain sponsorships
  • Sell hundreds of tickets to your professional event
  • Get national and local press coverage
  • And last but not least, drive massive traffic to your blog

Achieving these goals on LinkedIn [doesn’t] come naturally.  You’ve gotta work the system on LinkedIn and experiment with different methods.” Lewis Howes, ProBlogger

Among all these opinions, one thing is certain: LinkedIn is a social network with millions of users. Whether or not that fact alone makes it a valuable marketing tool is still uncertain: as these perspectives reveal, the jury’s still out. In the months and years to come, will LinkedIn become more valuable? Less?


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6 Responses to Is LinkedIn Still a Valuable Marketing Tool?

  1. My only resolution for 2012 is to close my LinkedIn account…and possibly Facebook, too. But at least Facebook keeps me in touch with my family. LinkedIn provides a way to stay in touch with co-workers and others in my field, but I already communicate with outstanding people on Twitter every day (not to mention here at Straight North). I just don’t need another social network.

    Sometimes a new co-worker will send me an invite and my number of connections ratchets up. But most of the time, LinkedIn is just a way for recruiters to pester me about some new position they’re trying to fill. As flattering as it is, I’m just not interested.

    My wife, on the other hand, is an avid LinkedIn user. She connects with professionals in her field and searches job listing every day. I wonder if there’s more value for people outside the tech field, who may not find other social networks so attractive for networking.

  2. As a business the importance of LinkedIn depends very much upon your marketplace. As a B2C business, from a front end point of view, I doubt your target audience is going to click on a LinkedIn page which your business may have. They are more likely to click on an Facebook page.

    But if that business is B2B, then LinkedIn is so much more relevant. Whilst email inboxes become ever more saturated, I find I rely more on my LinkedIn inbox than my email inbox. It’s a natural way of filtering the spam, as you’ve already approved the sender of the communication.

    I am a big fan of LinkedIn. I’d be lost without it.

  3. I think LinkedIn is only for a professional side of everyone not for everyone. Personally I like to being link to other people from other side
    of the globe. It also a start of friendship and then sharing your different

  4. Hello Shanna, I believe Linkedin is one of the Good Network platform unless it is made of fake networks from fake or worthless people. we all know that Every kind of organization from good i.e. Google to Seomoz to Bad( I won’t give any example for it) are listed over there. Initially It was good when only some realistic people were available over linkedin but now the situation has changed in such a way that many fake users are being over there, some of the users just keep their motives to increase their network connections(well it’s good habit) but if the user is not active in any group that will be a worthless effort. thanks for showing us the real importance of LinkedIn.

  5. Shanna, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and publish this article. LinkedIn is sometimes a headache for me. And I agree fully that being “selective” is important. It should not be so much about the number of connections you make but instead to focus on the quality of your connections even if it seems like a slow rise to having a strong network. It is definitely worth the wait and worth the effort to filter your connections based on relevancy.

  6. About the best and only thing you can do with LinkedIn which is unfortunately de rigueur for some of us– is make LinkedIn your b****. That is, fill in the minimum details–enough to pique the interest of a potential employer and link to your own website, where you can establish your credentials in your own format and maintain complete control of your internet presence.

    The CEO, Jeff Weiner, has a most unfortunate quote for the direction of LinkedIn next five years–”To allow human and economic capital to flow where it’s most needed”

    Don’t allow him to profit from you.

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