Most businesses today understand the significance of social media. No matter if you’re the world’s largest shoe company or a small family owned coffee shop with one location, social media has something to offer. Unfortunately, choosing the right social networking tools can be a little trickier. Many businesses assume that the largest sites, like Facebook and Twitter, are the best simply because they have so many members, but that may not be the case. The reason that people go to different social media sites affects not only the mentality of the users there, but also the demographics that each site represents.
Think About Your Target Demographic
What many businesses also seem to forget is that reaching their target demographic can be drastically more important than reaching the widest possible audience. LinkedIn is perhaps the quintessential example of the overlooked social media site, but this diamond in the rough isn’t lost on everyone. Numerous businesses (there are more than 2.6 million company pages) have remarkable bastions of support in LinkedIn, and some take it so seriously that they require their employees to have profiles. Today, LinkedIn has around 15 million people involved in small businesses among its ranks.
Use LinkedIn To Find Vendors
Have you ever asked a colleague if they knew about a really good dentist, web developer, dog groomer, etc.? One of the major non-marketing benefits of LinkedIn is that it can provide you with a huge network of outsourced services for vendors. It takes only seconds to find vendors that your peers have recommended, and the vendor’s own LinkedIn page will provide you with drastically more useful information than anything you’ll find in the Yellow Pages.
Great For the Independent Worker
LinkedIn also allows the owners of small businesses to build their industry network online in a professional and realistic manner. This is because LinkedIn includes a “groups directory” that allows you to find different industry associations and networks to participate in. If you’re a florist, you can find hundreds of floral groups or groups directly related to your industry, and it takes only seconds to find out about industry events that your prospective clients may be attending.
Of course the marketing potential of LinkedIn is just as remarkable as the networking portion. This is because LinkedIn offers the ability to launch direct ad campaigns (also known as PPC) that target the profiles of industries related to your own. A website where you can advertise directly to industry professionals may sound like a fantasy, but business- to-business marketing is something that thousands of small businesses take advantage of every day on LinkedIn.
Of course the real thing that separates LinkedIn from other social networking sites is that it is filled with professionals who made a profile on the site in order to further their career interests. That means it’s a virtual bounty of industry information, contacts and resources that can help your business thrive. While other social networking sites are filled with teenagers, college students and countless individuals who could care less about your business or the content it provides, LinkedIn is more like a cousin to your business. If you’re looking for a social networking site that can do more than just market your business, but also provide industry contacts and information that might help you grow to the next level, don’t make the mistake of overlooking LinkedIn in 2013.
Photo courtesy: Forbes.com