06/27/14

Why Your Business Should “Link In”

LinkedIn isn’t just for consumer use: your business should be on it, too!

LinkedIn has built a steady momentum that has placed it as one of the leading social networking sites for professionals and businesses. LinkedIn had more than 84 million U.S. users in 2013, which is about the entire population of Spain! Despite its wide use by professionals and corporations, small businesses can – and should - use LinkedIn to not only find employees, but to reach consumers and create brand identity as well. 

Here are some of the reasons that small businesses are turning to LinkedIn as the go-to social media platform.

1. To Engage Individuals 
The bulk of LinkedIn profiles are made up of personal profiles. While your employees may only make up a small fraction of all the users of the site, the very existence of their profiles serves to create an impactful presence for your business – plus, it shows everyone how awesome your employees are!  Every small business should encourage their employees to create an active profile to create visibility for the business. 80% of small businesses with less than 200 employees use LinkedIn to find customers and generate business. Best place to start? Individual employee profiles.

2. Reaching the Right Consumer
For businesses that provide direct services to other businesses like landscapers, professional cleaners, and business accounting firms, LinkedIn makes perfect sense. More than 3 million companies have created business pages on LinkedIn since its inception. For companies that do the bulk of their business online, like Joss & Main, LinkedIn is a perfect e-commerce platform to reach global consumers with offers and updates about the business. While Facebook may have more users, a tremendous number of brand interactions on Facebook are one-sided with the brand leading the conversation. LinkedIn doesn't offer the same kind of time-sink applications that Facebook does, making it better suited for reaching customers.

3. Provides a Tighter Network
Since LinkedIn works primarily as a referral and business networking social network, employees often endorse others in their network. Employees tend to have worked with people in their actual geographic location, which means their connection to you and your updates is more likely to reach people in the immediate area. For small and local businesses, this means that playing the numbers game associated with Facebook isn't as relevant—it's often better to have 200 locals aware of your local business than 2000 people across the globe who will never be able to use goods and services. 

In the era of mass social media, it’s often easy to be seduced by the need to create posts that generate “likes” but the truth is that engagement is what drives business, not little “thumbs up” signs. LinkedIn's network has reached a critical mass full of businesses, professionals, consumers and possible employees, making it a must-have part of any small businesses social media efforts.

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Kevin Flanagan is a freelance writer and performing artist living in Downtown Phoenix. When he isn't writing, he can be found on stage, likely dressed as a wizard.