LinkedIn: Don’t Overlook The Social Media Underdog

By: Guest | April 30, 2012 | 

Today’s guest post is written by Neal Schaffer.

Despite having preceded Twitter and Facebook in the social media space, LinkedIn, which was launched in 2003, has so far been unable to capture a larger share of social media users.

Many call LinkedIn the “black sheep” or the underdog of social media.

Social media demographic statistics show us Linkedin only has 150 million registered users, way below the nearly one billion Facebook users or Twitter with more than 400 million users.

See this excellent infographic for full details.

It’s also said only half of those LinkedIn users are actually active on the site.

Why is this the case? Let us take a closer look – and then ponder the question why we should care and how to use this to our advantage.

  1. Although LinkedIn was originally created for Silicon Valley executives to facilitate online networking in a trusted environment, headhunters soon learned they could easily tap into sought-after executives by building out LinkedIn networks. As more and more joined LinkedIn with the recession in late 2008, it opened huge pools of talent – and LinkedIn started providing HR professionals more tools to leverage the increased number of professional profiles. LinkedIn has now become the default location for many headhunters and hiring managers to find talent. Because of this, people don’t feel the need to go to the site unless they’re looking for a job.
  2. In alignment with the previous argument, most people equate having a presence on LinkedIn to uploading their resume to a job board. In other words, most see their LinkedIn profile as nothing more than a resume.
  3. While Twitter and Facebook allow you to message anyone despite connectivity status (although it might be harder to contact someone on Facebook depending on their privacy settings), LinkedIn makes it hard to reach out to someone – and actually monetizes guaranteed messaging through its InMail functionality. Compared to the other big social networks, and even smaller but emerging ones such as Google+ and Pinterest, LinkedIn is simply intimidating.
  4. There is no immediate gratitude on LinkedIn like you might have on Twitter or Facebook. Many sign up to LinkedIn and wait for things to happen, but sometimes nothing happens due to its environment. Both Twitter and Facebook beckon us to engage with each other through timelines that offer a robust volume of entertaining information, while LinkedIn suffers from a smaller volume of updates, which are typically less “engaging” than the content on other sites, and a culture that uses the status update much less often or is intimated to do so.

This infographic bolsters the above-mentioned points.

Statistics show 64 percent of Linkedin users use the site for business growth and three out of four its users are there for business purposes.

Furthermore, LinkedIn users spend only an average of eight minutes per visit on the site as opposed to users of Facebook and Twitter that clock in 23:20 and 11:50, respectively.

With the emergence of Pinterest and Google Plus, LinkedIn has probably become even more forgotten on the minds of many.

This might sound counter-intuitive, but this is why now is the time to go where no one has gone before: To create a robust presence on LinkedIn and leverage it for your business or personal brand.

While having a presence on other sites, if you’re not careful, can actually devaluate your brand, LinkedIn is probably the only site where the more you spend time on it, the more tangible benefits you will receive from a professional or business perspective.

Because of this, for most people, I can say:

LinkedIn provides a higher ROI for the same time spent than most social networks.

This Hubspot study has found LinkedIn provides three times more effective for lead generation than the much bigger Facebook or Twitter. Because people are on there for professional development, the site has the potential to draw a far more targeted audience with a greater concentration of quality content.

If “everyone else” is spending their time elsewhere and ignoring LinkedIn, this is your chance to make a big difference in a somewhat smaller pond.

When I speak across the country on social media, I always ask people how many of them have been contacted by a headhunter or someone with a job opportunity through LinkedIn. As can be expected, two-thirds to three-quarters of the room usually raise their hand.

But recently, when I ask how many have generated a new lead or new business on LinkedIn, a growing number of hands are going up. It is this assumption, that business is being developed every day, that drove me to search around the world for the 15+ case studies I discovered as I wrote my book Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing.

What have your positive experiences with LinkedIn been?

Neal Schaffer is a Top 30 Forbes Social Media Influencer and author of the award-winning book “Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing.” Check out Neal’s Windmill Networking blog and follow him on TwitterFacebook, Pinterest, and, of course, LinkedIn! 

  • GrizzardComm

    As @JonFMoss told us at #soslam … RT @ginidietrich Don’t Overlook LinkedIn, Social Media Underdog by @nealschaffer

    • JonFMoss

      @GrizzardComm thanks

    • NealSchaffer

      @GrizzardComm @JonFMoss @ginidietrich Jon’s a good man! #soslam

  • DiFrancescoLyd

    LinkedIn is great!! My company started blogging about 3 months ago. We were getting about 20 hits per post on average. Once I started sharing it on LinkedIn (in a variety of groups) we more than doubled the number of views.
    Plus (the best part) is that we’ve gotten more leads from LI than from Twitter or Facebook.
    – difrancescolyd 
    (working at prosar )

    • NealSchaffer

       @DiFrancescoLyd Glad to hear – you’re my LinkedIn role model!

  • Hi Neal. I see your tweets often about LinkedIn and feel for B2B it is way under utilized. One thing I hate in Social Media is that the term “Active User’ is actually ‘Number of Accounts’. To me if you have an account and you log in once a month you are not an active user (though Facebook would say otherwise).
    I agree with your views here about LinkedIn. Especially for professional services. I think the big challenge is getting users to visit. I rarely go on the site to network or update what I am doing. Yet I do respond to their emails for new connections.
    I think the challenge for LinkedIn is becoming a connection hub for leads. We don’t use Facebook or Twitter so much for business leads. We might get to know someone on Twitter who works at a potential clients business but it is often a more social connection. I think we just have so many options for where to spend our time this network winds up neglected?

    • NealSchaffer

       @HowieSPM Thanks Howie, and totally agree with you on “Active User” compared to “Number of Accounts” – especially in the case of Google Plus!!!
      LinkedIn definitely can become a connection hub for leads, but it also depends on what type of business you are in and where your target demographic hangs out in social media. I get leads from various networks as well, but if you need a platform to prospect on, LinkedIn is clearly your best choice.

  • LinkedIn has been the source of several projects, read that as money in my pocket. It is a great tool and I love using it.

    • NealSchaffer

       @TheJackB Glad to hear Jack! While others think LinkedIn is a waste of time, go out there and make some more money off being there!!!

  • kelly_ahern

    Great #socialmedia & personal branding read RT @ginidietrich: Four reasons @nealschaffer says LinkedIn is the underdog

    • NealSchaffer

      @kelly_ahern Thanks Kelly!

  • EXCELLENT post and absolutely on point. I don’t spend enough time on LinkedIn, but I appreciate it’s value. One tip I’d give: DO NOT feed your LinkedIn status update via Twitter – absolutely inappropriate.I always think of LI as the Grown Up Social Media. It’s where my highly professional clients MUST BE.  
    Thx for the kick in the butt to get on there more often. 

    •  @AmyMccTobin Totally agree, Amy. It’s almost as bad as seeing Tweets on Facebook. each network should be treated differently. 

    • NealSchaffer

       @AmyMccTobin Thanks Amy – and couldn’t agree with you more! Don’t automate ANY cross-posting in social media for that matter!

  • KristaKotrla

    LinkedIn is definitely the “home base” social media platform of choice for our team. And the results we see are exactly in line with what the HubSpot study found. Teaching and empowering our team the most effective ways to utilize it on a regular basis was definitely worth the effort!

    • NealSchaffer

       @KristaKotrla Amen Krista!

  • Amar Trivedi

    Nice one @NealSchaffer Another good post on LinkedIn. I think you nailed it when you said LinkedIn leads to business value. No other social network means business like LinkedIn. It has a well-defined niche.
    In a world where everyone’s drowning in data, I see LinkedIn allows individuals and businesses alike, to stand out from the clutter, and brand themselves – be it via Groups & Company Pages or Individual Profiles – with the sole purpose of conducting business transactions.
    A lot of people outside of the B2B circuit would find it easy to agree with the comparative ratio you drew up:- LinkedIn delivers Higher ROI for same Time Spent Online on other networks.

    • NealSchaffer

       @Amar Trivedi Thanks for that confirmation Amar! Yes, LinkedIn has worked hard to maintain their professional integrity, and although there is a little bit too much noise for me sometimes, I think they have struck a good balance.

  • NealSchaffer

    @theAlfHo Thanks for the RT sir!

  • NealSchaffer

    @WISELosAngeles Honored by the RT – thank you!

  • NealSchaffer

    @CoSIDAnews Thank you for sharing!

  • rdopping

    Neal, I haven’t had much luck there yet. The resources you mentioned are so true; job hunting, resume building, etc. Hell, it’s like an on-line CV farm. I have been on linked In for a long while, am consistently growing my professional network and load my blog posts there but I honestly don’t see much in terms of traffic from the site. Lot’s of views of my profile, etc but really? So what.
    One thing that irritates me is that I get requests from “friends” who I don’t even know. Semmantics, I know but Linked In could work on the engagement piece an bit that way. I agree that on a professional network it makes sense to be a bit discerning but like a cocktail party I just want the opportunity to say hi and chat without first buying the right to send you a message. It just seems kind of douchy to “friend” someone there. 
    I can see the potential with the groups functionality and the participation there is certainly more engaging professionally than something like Facebook.
    So, I am all in on building on that platform but am challenged with a strategy to build some form of enagagement. Any tips that way?

    • NealSchaffer

       @rdopping Thanks for chiming in! The experience is going to be different for everyone, much like it is on any platform, but when I find I am not effective on  a particular platform, I try to ask myself if I can do anything to improve. A lot of people would like to have more, rather than less, views on their LinkedIn profile, but on the other hand is your profile crafted in a way with a clear call to action or are the keywords attracting people to your profile the right ones? Just some things to consider.
      As for traffic, well, if you use social media with the objective for generating traffic, you’re going to run into trouble!  Seriously, I think the only way to get massive traffic from LinkedIn is to be active in LinkedIn Groups and introduce your content there, in a savvy way, to relevant LinkedIn Groups, always cognizant that each Group Manager has different rules.
      As for building up engagement on LinkedIn, you have tons of options. I recommend you first finding and joining 50 LinkedIn Groups and, maybe once a day, comment or post in 5 or so.  Sort of like going to 5 different networking meetings: Try to join conversations that you deem relevant, and I am confident that you will start seeing the value.
      Sorry for the long answer, which I hoped answered your questions, but please reply to this if I can be of any other help to you!

      • rdopping

        Hey Neal, good tips.
        I hope I didn’t leave the wrong impression. Traffic is not my be all and end all. I just see very little from Linked In  but I see the benefit of participating in the groups. Sometime a whack up side the head is good. I am part of some groups that fit my niche so all it takes is some networking there? Duh. Why didn’t I think of that?
        I have heard through another forum that your personal profile can be structured with a CTA which is a good idea as well. Thanks again, I think Linked In is a good tool just figuring out the best course of action is tricky. Thanks so much for your help here.

        • NealSchaffer

           @rdopping You’re very welcome! Good luck with it!

  • BarWrite

    @GirlsGuidetoLS @spinsucks It’s the social media stuffed shirt.

  • NealSchaffer

    @sbhsbh Thanks Steve!

  • NealSchaffer

    @Steveology Thanks Steve!

    • Steveology

      @nealschaffer Great post!

      • NealSchaffer

        @Steveology Thank you sir!

  • NealSchaffer

    @SociallySavvy4U Thanks for the RT Manon!

    • SociallySavvy4U

      @nealschaffer you are welcome Neil 🙂

  • Faryna

    RT @Soulati LinkedIn: Don’t Overlook The Social Media Underdog via @ginidietrich

  • NealSchaffer

    @marktraphagen Thanks Mark 😉

  • NealSchaffer

    @larryprevost Thanks for sharing Larry!

  • NealSchaffer

    @WendiMooreAgncy Thanks Wendi!

  • NealSchaffer

    @GiseleNMendez Me too Gisele 😉

  • NealSchaffer

    @lisagerber Thanks again Lisa!!!

  • Andrew Spong

    Thanks for identifying the strengths and weakness of everyone’s digital Rolodex. I continue to be a fan, and it has funnelled a great deal of business and inquiries to me. I do concede that you have to take an active interest in tuning and optimising your profile; however, if we don’t take an interest in the way that we present ourselves on LinkedIn, why should anyone else? To that end, I published this post an hour or two ago: ‘Get found: how to align your professional keywords with your LinkedIn profile’. Let me know what you think 🙂

  • ginidietrich

    Hi Neal! Sorry for my delay in getting here.
    I totally agree with everything you’ve said here. When I speak, and business owners ask about LinkedIn, I show them how to use it to have introductions made by looking to see which connections you have in common with friends and colleagues. It’s always an eye-opening experience for most…and it works REALLY well.

    • NealSchaffer

       @ginidietrich  @elissapr No worries Gini! I know you’re VERY busy! Yes, LinkedI is by far the easiest network to introduce – and be accepted by – business owners and executives!

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