In the Monday, Oct 19 Washington Post (pages C1 and C8), an article entitled "Worldwide ebb" reports on multiple discussions about the pending demise of the mega social networking site Facebook.
The issue is nothing new when it comes to the web: nothing is wrong with Facebook except that it too big and too successful, if not at making money, at least in attracting users. The issue is that it is trying to be all things to all people, and as a business plan that doesn't work.
Facebook was built for college students. Everything after that was kind of a retrofit, especially the ability to be a platform for B2B professionals.
Facebook is not a B2B platform.
Enter LinkedIn. Here is a social network that was designed for business professionals. (Thanks, Reid!)
I remember getting several invitations to join LinkedIn, probably like you. My invitations came in January of 2004 and I joined on February 11, 2004.
Then I did what most people did: waited for something to happen. I should be embarrassed to say I waited 3 years for something to happen. And nothing did. Well, not "nothing" but after three years I only had about 150 connections and was a member of maybe 2 groups.
In early 2007 several things came to my attention and I took a much closer look at LinkedIn and what it could do for me - if I used it. Then I got busy.
Today (as of 6:03 PM EDT 10/19/09) I have
- 1,910 connections (which links me to 12,145,200 professionals)
- belong to 50 groups and 10 sub-groups
- "own" 5 groups and several sub-groups
- manage 3 groups/sub-groups for others
- have over 200 peer and client "recommendations"
- and have 17 "Best Answers" in 11 different categories.
I have some visibility, and the visibility has a focus. And I get lots of comments about "being all over LinkedIn," in fact I get more comments about LinkedIn than I do about my weekly radio show.
Most of my efforts are focused on being highly visible in the government market, where my visibility is already good.
So, what does this have to do with a social media strategy?
This is what it has to do with it: every individual, every small, medium or large business on LinkedIn or using any social networking tool, needs to understand how the network (tool) can be used, how it is currently used, what it can do (good and bad) to your business, and how you can plan and manage a basic approach to using LinkedIn to your advantage.
My first webinar at http://www.governmentmarketmaster.com/ went over this briefly, along with other elements of getting started (building your profile, getting connected, selecting groups, engaging in Q&A and more). our second webinar is coing up on 10/26 (all webinars are archived for replay).
But a detailed, well-thought out strategy for leveraging LinkedIn is not something you can learn through a webinar. You need to match your business goals and needs with the capabilities of the social networking tools, see where that fits and works with your overall marketing and sales plans and make sure each element become mutually supportive.
Here's a short list of things LinkedIn can help you with:
- identifying government buyers and influencers (federal, state and local) - yes, many are on LinkedIn;
- identifying business partners (trying to get the attention of a company that owns a specific contract - see if any are in your network);
- looking for competitor information - look here first;
- looking for a good small business partner?
- looking for a subject matter expert?
- looking for good employees or references on someone who is applying?
- oh, and get clients (make money!)
And the list goes on.
Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn was built with one focus - to facilitate business. And it works.
I have seen a number of people offering advice, consulting and seminars on using social networks for business and when I look them up on LinkedIn, only a few look like they actually know what they are doing.
I know what I am doing on LinkedIn - take a look -http://www.linkedin.com/in/markamtower
And if you need some help, give me a call - 301 924 0058, or drop me a line - mark@FederalDirect.net
In the meantime, go to LinkedIn and have some fun learning.