Social media marketing has been around for several years now, ever since the advent of MySpace. But it really came into its own when Facebook and Twitter appeared on the scene. Now there are many social media outlets where entrepreneurs can make a name for themselves, but perhaps the best one is LinkedIn. Here's why LinkedIn is a preferred marketing tool for any small business owner.
How LinkedIn Became a Force to be Reckoned With
This year, LinkedIn celebrates 10 years of providing a social media site aimed specifically at business professionals. Today the site is global and enjoys over 225 million members, but their beginning was much more humble.
A decade ago, a team of colleagues (Reid Hoffman, Allen Blue, Konstantin Guericke, Eric Ly and Jean-Luc Vaillant) from Social Net and PayPal got together to launch a site where business people could interact online and find job opportunities. It was a good idea - taking the concept of a mixer and moving it to the World Wide Web in order to use the power of online networking to build relationships. At the time, only MySpace, a fledgling Facebook, and its lesser known cousin, Friendster, were the big players in the arena of social media marketing.
The idea of utilizing a personal network for business purposes made LinkedIn different. In two years, the site gained well over a million users and distinguished itself by combining employment listings, personalized recommendations for job seekers and a candidate assessment feature for those listing jobs. It has since evolved into more of a relationship management site where professionals can communicate for any purpose.
LinkedIn has recently acquired SlideShare, adding it to a portfolio of other software platforms, including the most recent, Pulse. A new app called Contacts will be available soon, which will sync to LinkedIn and allow users to manage their contacts via the internet. This managed growth has helped LinkedIn develop a network of sites devoted to forming and maintaining professional relationships, making it a unique site in terms of small business marketing.
Using LinkedIn for Social Media Marketing
LinkedIn will continue to be a social media site where people can find and post jobs but it does much more than that by allowing personal relationships to be found and fostered. And those relationships can be based on many variables, such as shared interests, educational background and career history.
The savvy entrepreneur can use the site as a way to be introduced to the people they want to meet. This can be accomplished by searches via keyword to find business prospects, affiliates, partners and employees based on skills and expertise. For instance, if you have a company that offers a new language teaching tool, finding people with a skill of "reading education" could produce a list of potential clients.
Because you can derive so much information from your LinkedIn connections, the site allows you to make personal connections with those people. Find common causes, skills and interests that pave the way to a professional relationship. It's easy to stay up-to-date on what your connections are doing, too. Why not send a personal note of congratulations (when a contact gets a promotion), offer help (such as referring someone to a job posting), or find new connections based on their new connections?
And with a total revamp of company pages on LinkedIn, you can gain followers of your content, much like Facebook. Entice members to follow your page by adding video and updating it frequently with great content. Announce your new company page when it is live and ask your connections to follow it.
For the entrepreneur who wants to target other business professionals, LinkedIn is the best choice for social media marketing.