Social Media Marketing: Are You LinkedIn?

November 10, 2008

If there's one constant lament—from both consumers and businesses—about the various social media tools out there, it's that many of them seem somewhat unprofessional or childish. There's room for argument there, certainly, but both groups have reason to fear that perception can equal reality. Enter LinkedIn.

LinkedIn has turned out to be the social tool of choice for the business world. Granted, it's not the most popular network—by a long shot. It does, however, have the advantage of being (and being seen as) the only social network that caters primarily to professionals. There aren't any virtual games of rock/paper/scissors or surveys about which Spice Girl you might be.

No, LinkedIn is strictly about business, which can work in your favor. Unlike Facebook, MySpace, and numerous other social networks, LinkedIn is geared toward developing and expanding professional relationships. This makes the service stand out in a number of ways:

Fewer, but more meaningful, connections

Having tons of friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter isn't necessarily meaningful. After all, one of my Twitter followers is a company that sells electric fireplaces; that doesn't do much for me, especially as I live in South Texas. With LinkedIn, however, you initially connect to the people you know and, presumably, trust. These are the people who are most likely to use your product or service—and recommend you to others.

Less chaff, more wheat

Notwithstanding the ongoing debate about personal vs. business use of social media, one ugly truth is that the frivolous can, sometimes, drown out the serious. In other words, it can be hard to tell if you're wasting time or establishing true relationships. Not so with LinkedIn. Most Linkedin users share a common goal of professional advancement, so the service is streamlined.

The pleasure of being a serious adult

Don't get me wrong—I'm not trying to harsh anyone's online buzz. I just like commiserating with like-minded professionals who face the same issues and have the same questions I do regarding my career. LinkedIn is perfect for that, especially if you participate in its question and answer feature. Lower insurance rates aren't the only benefit to being a grown-up.

Since LinkedIn is growing in popularity and adding new features, we'll probably revisit this topic in a while. In the meantime, take a look at some of our previous posts on social media marketing.