Is LinkedIn Important for Small Businesses?

Seth Spriggs

When businesses say they are focusing on their social media strategy, they often mean Facebook. But as the second biggest social network in Canada, LinkedIn is a platform many small businesses shouldn’t overlook. Three in 10 Canadians use LinkedIn, logging in an average of twice a week, making it a great opportunity for businesses to grow visibility and promote their expertise.

While it’s important to consider your target audience and goals as you determine where to allocate your social media efforts, here are the top 10 reasons LinkedIn is important – and effective – for Canadian small businesses.

1. LinkedIn is tops for B2B lead generation

Let’s get to the important stuff first. While many people think of LinkedIn as a networking platform, it’s also the most effective social media network for B2B lead generation. According to one survey, LinkedIn drives more than 80 percent of B2B leads on social media, compared to 12.73 percent via Twitter and 6.73 percent from Facebook. Other research has found it to be the most effective network when it comes to converting leads to sales.

2. It’s not too shabby for B2C either

Though Facebook is the most popular platform for consumer-facing businesses, 71 percent of B2C marketers are using LinkedIn to distribute their content, and 42 percent say it’s an effective platform for reaching consumers. One thing to keep in mind: if you are trying to connect with consumers on LinkedIn, make sure your posts and other content match the professional tone and focus of the network.

3. Highlight your business, products and employees – for free

As a holistic network, LinkedIn offers multiple products to highlight your business, products and people – and then link them all together. Company pages promote your business at the highest level, acting as a hub for all of your LinkedIn activities, aggregating links to employee profiles and allowing you to post company information and content updates; showcase pages highlight specific products and services; connecting your and employees’ own profiles to your company page can help grow reach and visibility. Best of all, there’s no cost for creating business or personal pages.

4. Recommendations that count

Although there are many websites that allow users to post reviews, what sets LinkedIn apart from many sites is that recommendations are connected to the reviewers’ professional profiles. This adds credibility and trust because readers know your reviewers are willing to put their name on the line vouching for you. Though company pages don’t support recommendations, you can display them on your own profile and encourage employees to display recommendations from customers on theirs.

5. LinkedIn can boost your search engine performance

Though it can take some work to optimize your website so you rank near the top of search engine results, profiles and company pages on LinkedIn are already search-engine optimized. Even if you have work to do to improve the search engine performance of your website (something Yellow Pages can help you with), having a presence on LinkedIn can still help you come out on top.

6. Learn about the news and trends that affect your industry

With tools such as discussion groups, blogs, and an easy interface for professionals in your network to share interesting articles and other news, LinkedIn is a great learning and discovery platform. Joining relevant LinkedIn Groups is one way to stay on top of industry trends and understand the challenges and concerns of entrepreneurs in general or of businesses similar to yours.

7. And to gain insights about your own business

Whether via newsfeed posts or group discussion boards, LinkedIn is also a great – and free – tool for conducting your own informal market research. You can post questions to your network or group for a quick pulse check, or use LinkedIn to extend the reach of your more formal market research efforts by posting a link to online surveys.

8. Show off your expertise

With its own publishing and distribution platform, and integration with sites such as Slideshare, LinkedIn is a free and easy way for businesses to show off their expertise and thought leadership via blog posts and presentation decks.

9. It can help you find reputable local suppliers

While LinkedIn is a great way to promote your own business, it can also help you find qualified suppliers for your own business needs. Use advanced search filters to find vendors in your area, seek referrals from your network by posting queries in your newsfeed, and vet potential vendors through shared connections.

10. Find your next great employee

As it is with suppliers, LinkedIn is a great tool for finding your next great employee – and you don’t even have to pay for an ad to do so. Advanced search tools allow you to sleuth people out based on attributes such as specific skills, current or previous company and more, or you can post to your network looking for recommendations. If you do post an ad, LinkedIn uses profile attributes to help make sure the right candidates see it.

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