LinkedIn differs from other social networking sites in that it’s geared up to users’ professional connections, rather than being aimed at recreational use.
Social media as an entity can have a positive impact on your business, so LinkedIn is particularly important, since users can create a profile page with a structure similar to a résumé. It can summarise their career, promote their skills and list their professional history.
Social media is the place where today’s customers spend much of their time, so businesses need to know everything about the apps to take full advantage of the features on offer, using them to engage their audience.
When was LinkedIn created?
LinkedIn was founded in December 2002 by American internet entrepreneur Reid Hoffman, who enlisted the help of old colleagues from PayPal and SocialNet to work on his new idea. In 2003, six months after the initial idea, LinkedIn was launched.
Initially, growth was fairly slow, with as few as 20 new sign-ups per day in the early days. However, by autumn 2003, its popularity had increased, and it attracted an investment from Sequoia Capital. By August 2004, LinkedIn had hit the one million members mark. By April 2007, there were 10 million users.
The first mobile version of LinkedIn was launched in February 2008. New offices opened in Mumbai, Sydney and Dublin. In 2016, it opened new offices in San Francisco. In June the same year, Microsoft announced it was to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion – Microsoft’s largest acquisition to date.
According to the latest released data for the second quarter of 2016, LinkedIn reportedly had 450 million members. It is the world’s largest professional network and has enjoyed growth largely because of constant improvements to keep the site relevant.
Key features of LinkedIn
Whether you run a small/medium-sized business or a massive enterprise, LinkedIn can help you. The website includes messaging, networking, a content publishing and sharing platform and a human resources platform, combining a jobs board, recruitment, applicant tracking tools and more.
It is an absolute goldmine of marketing and customer data, which is evolving in new ways since being taken over by Microsoft. The service integration and software are evolving continually, and it has become a one-stop business communication platform.
Since Microsoft shelled out $26.2 billion to acquire the professionals’ social network, the tech giant didn’t spend such a large sum for nothing! LinkedIn still feels like a social network, with its main newsfeed being redesigned to accommodate trending stories and new, user-friendly features added to its messaging function.
The desktop has been revamped to de-clutter the interface, introducing a simpler navigation panel and a new tab to control security and privacy settings – this allows users to browse profiles anonymously or publicly. The new “Me” section gives users the option of adding suggested skills to their profile, while the “My Network” tab solely manages connections.
The improved messaging interface means users can have a conversation without having to leave their profile, while you can also reach out to someone directly from the LinkedIn feed. New contextual suggestions have been built into messaging on chosen “Jobs and Company” pages, identifying potential connections that could be worth messaging.
Finally (and very importantly), LinkedIn will now generate analytics reports for the platform’s premium messaging service, InMail, providing users with hourly updates on message response rates, benchmark data for recruiters and how well the different mail templates are performing.
The new LinkedIn features enable users to create advertisements and career opportunities, and you can create and expand your business with the simple click of a button.
Using business social media, such as LinkedIn, to reach a wider target audience is a must, no matter how big or small your company may be.
LinkedIn Groups is a favourite way for marketers and businesses to find and engage their targeted audience and prospective customers. This can be achieved by creating your own group, or by joining other groups and becoming an active member, continually networking.
If your brand already has an active community, a LinkedIn group is a good place to start a discussion and create a more engaged audience. Using keywords in the group title will ensure it has a better chance of surfacing in LinkedIn’s organic search.
Also, you can use the weekly email feature to keep your group members up to speed. You can also make the group a Featured Group and then highlight this on your company page.
Perhaps the most valuable LinkedIn tool for business use is the LinkedIn Job Search, which includes more than six million listings. The LinkedIn Talent Solutions suite is also a useful tool.
Prospect and lead engagement
In terms of marketing and engagement, you need to understand the basics of researching projects and leads. The LinkedIn database collects all the identifiable information about a user, so tap into the relevant information by learning how to ask the correct questions.
The LinkedIn Economic Graph identifies larger demographic trends at a macro level, including job type and geography, to tailor your marketing campaigns. However, everyone in your organisation needs to perpetuate an inbound marketing strategy at a micro level by actively engaging with other users, posting and updating. This means all your employees must associate their accounts with your business’s page.
Since Microsoft acquired LinkedIn, users have started to experience the benefits of being part of the Microsoft empire, including the opportunities afforded by the new software, services and data.
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