LinkedIn is the most powerful marketing tool of the 21st century and there are three main reasons why -- media, partnerships and clients.
Before we get into the specifics let me share some background with you. I've been involved in the online marketing game for almost a decade now. I've consulted to, run campaigns for, and trained over a thousand small to medium businesses online and offline since 2007. Throughout this time I've researched and studied multiple social media platforms, followed industry leaders in this area, and have obsessed over finding out what really works and what doesn't.
LinkedIn certainly has some impressive statistics:
•LinkedIn operates the world's largest professional network on the Internet with more than 313 million members in over 200 countries and territories.
•Professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate of more than two new members per second.
•There are over 39 million students and recent college graduates on LinkedIn. They are LinkedIn's fastest-growing demographic.
•LinkedIn counts executives from all 2013 Fortune 500 companies as members; its corporate talent solutions are used by 94 of the Fortune 100 companies.
•There are more than 1.5 million unique publishers actively using the LinkedIn Share button on their sites to send content into the LinkedIn platform.
Although it's such a powerful platform many business owners are barely scraping the surface of what's possible on LinkedIn.
Just a few nights ago I attended a business networking function and entered into a conversation with a small group of business owners. One senior director, aged in his late forties or early fifties, remarked that he wasn't looking to be recruited and that he didn't see the point of LinkedIn. He was right, he's missing the point.
Yes, LinkedIn is a tool for recruiters to find possible candidates for their organizations. Yes, it's a tool for graduates and job seekers to find roles. However it's much more than that. LinkedIn is actually a powerful platform for doing business too.
To gain a deeper insight into this article I recently spoke with Alex Pirouz, founder of Linkfluencer, the world's leading online community for LinkedIn training.
Alex shared the following with me:
In today's highly competitive business landscape it's become extremely more difficult to standout in the market place and get your message in front of key decision makers. The old traditional methods of marketing a business are not as effective as they used to be; even if you have a huge marketing spend.
What millions of members and 49 percent of them being key decision makers, LinkedIn has leveled the playing field allowing business owners all over the world the opportunity to find, connect and build a relationship with their target market regardless of industry or location.
Alex brings up a great point and based on my own experience with the platform I can definitely say that I've seen the benefit to my own business and personal brand when marketing through LinkedIn.
Here are the 3 reasons why LinkedIn is the most powerful marketing tool of the 21st century:
Any business advisor worth their weight in gold will tell you that media exposure is critical for raising brand awareness and positioning your brand in the market. You may have the best product or service in the world but if nobody knows who you are or where to find you then what good is that?
The problem is getting noticed can be an expensive and time consuming exercise. Hiring a traditional PR agency can cost you thousands, and whether or not their campaign will result in increased sales is another story.
According to a survey by Arketi media group, over 94.2 percent of journalists and editors are on LinkedIn and 62 percent rate it as their preferred professional networking tool!
Over a period of 9 months, Alex built a network of over 250 contacts in the media. As a result he has been featured in over 50 media publications including Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur and is regularly interviewed for news stories. And best of all he has managed to achieve all this without sending out a single press release.
Alex's expert tip:
The buying behaviors of consumers have changed dramatically over the past 3-5 years. Today they care more about the people they do business with more so than the actual brand or product/service. You could have the best product or service in the world but if they don't like you they won't necessarily do business with you.
This is why personal branding is so important. Based on what they see and read on line most customers will decided whether or not they want to work with you most often before they even speak with you
In the online marketing world we call this: "The Moment Of Truth".
Fostering strategic partnerships is a powerful way to grow a business. With the right partner you can refer clients to each other, leverage the power of offering complimentary products or services, and help grow each others' businesses.
Finding the right joint venture and alliance partners however can be challenging. So where do you go to find joint venture partners, for instance, if you're a social media consultant focused on helping chiropractors improve their marketing?
LinkedIn of course!
One of Linkfluencer's community members Martine Martinez, Founder of Entrepreneur Card, managed to set up partnerships with over 30 leading brands, get featured in over 10 media publications and attract 150+ entrepreneurs to his launch party. All through the power of LinkedIn.
Alex's expert tip:
If you study the corporate strategy of some of the biggest brands in the world, you will see one thing they all have in common: the implementation of joint venture partnerships with key industry players.
Rather than getting your message in front of 1 potential client, using this strategy you can broadcast your message in front of hundreds if not thousands of targeted contacts that have already built trust with the business or person you are partnering with.
LinkedIn is also a powerful tool for finding clients. I believe that regardless of industry, size or location we are all in the business of marketing. And to be a successful marketer, I believe its 10 percent what you say and 90 percent how you say it that makes all the difference.
Now if you really think about it, what's the real reason why we all market our business in the first place? It's to get our message in front of decision makers right?
Well this is why LinkedIn makes so much sense,
Using LinkedIn Creel Price, CEO of Accelerate Global and Linkfluencer community member, managed to generate more than 3000 leads in less than 90 days, license his methodology to 17 coaches and generated revenue north of $150K all whilst spending less than $1000 in marketing or advertising.
Alex's expert tip:
Over the past 14 years of business I have tried every marketing /advertising campaign under the sun ranging from Radio, TV, Newspaper, Direct Mail etc. When I look back at the time and money we've spent in designing and launching those campaigns none of them have proved to give us a better return on investment than using LinkedIn over the past few years.
This is mainly due to the fact that LinkedIn allows us to find, connect and build a relationship with hundreds of potential clients with ease all under one platform. It's never become easier to build a sales funnel of targeted leads to than market too.
Now that you know the true power and potential of LinkedIn, let me share with you what the future holds for the platform.
The Future for LinkedIn
During his LinkedIn 2014 Company Presentation at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco, California, CEO Jeff Weiner shared the company's 10 year vision.
LinkedIn will be focusing on three crucial strategic objectives:
1. Identity - To be the professional profile of record online. If members are going to be maintaining a professional record online then LinkedIn want to be the primary place where people create, update and access those records. Want to know what someone's professional history is? Just look up their LinkedIn profile.
2. Networks - Connecting all 600 million professionals or knowledge workers across the globe. Weiner notes the increase of students or "pre-professionals" coming onto the platform. It's an ideal place to access new talent and develop professional relationships.
3. Knowledge - To be the definitive professional publishing platform. Want to be a global thought leader? Publish your content on LinkedIn.
So if after reading this you haven't worked out yet that LinkedIn is a massive deal when it comes to doing business I hope that this gives you a new perspective.
What has been your experience with LinkedIn? What challenges have you had with the platform or how has it helped you grow your business? Comment below and share your thoughts.