Social media platforms have become a vital and necessary part of any agency or small business marketing strategy. One shouldn’t jump to conclusions that all of the options available to businesses should be adopted with an equal amount of attention.

Each social media platform has its place and use when it comes to growing your business. Although Facebook is often touted as the ideal place to start off with social marketing for small business, it’s best that small businesses focus most of their attention on the multi-faceted LinkedIn – and I’ll tell you why.

Why Focus on LinkedIn?

The broad reason you should focus on LinkedIn is because it is a focused ‘professional network’ with a variety of uses as opposed to a social network. It builds your presence on the internet, connects you to customers and other businesses, can serve as a pool for recruiting talent, provides access to quality information, and already has a much more serious reputation than any other social media platform.

Stephanie Buck writes on Mashable that if your business employs 1 to 50 people, has information worth sharing, is looking to hire, needs advice, or is a non-profit, you need to have a presence on LinkedIn. I think she’s right.

LinkedIn Deserves Your Attention

A survey from June of 2011 found that out of ” 2,997 active social networkers, 59 percent of respondents said it is more important to have a LinkedIn account, more than any other social network.” In the year and a half since this study, LinkedIn has continued to improve its services. This is true for working aged adults, but it’s also true for small business.

The following are eight important reasons why you and your small business should be focusing on LinkedIn right now.

1. Google and LinkedIn are Friends

When it comes to SEO, LinkedIn is a favorite of search engines. According to James A. Martin at Small Business Computing, both Google and Bing “index LinkedIn content” and “your business’s LinkedIn page is likely to rank in the top 10 search results for your business’ name.” LinkedIn is a solid addition to your SEO strategy as a small business.

2. You Can Find Business Services Easily

Having a strong LinkedIn profile and familiarity with the service will allow you to use it for reasons other than promoting your business. LinkedIn can easily be used to find services your business may be in need of. A good profile will show potential professionals that you are a serious business and need their services. LinkedIn’s search and advanced search options will save you time looking for people to meet your needs.

3. Provides Opportunity to Showcase Your Knowledge

LinkedIn has a variety of areas where businesses can impart their knowledge or opinions about a topic. There are groups, news stories, and answer boards that provide a useful opportunity for those who can provide a quality, knowledgeable answer or comment. Guy Kawasaki, co-founder of AllTop, writes on LinkedIn’s own blog that adopting this strategy is a “great opportunity to win new business or at least find prospective clients to pitch your business to.”

There are plenty of apps on the market that will allow you to link updates and posts you make from your LinkedIn page to also apply to your Twitter, Facebook, and other network’s pages. This means you can focus your time on LinkedIn but still gain benefits and traffic from other social networks.

5. Networking is Easier

Having a presence on LinkedIn allows you to network professionally better than any other social network. For a small business, knowing the right people goes a long way toward helping you get additional business or reach new customers.

LinkedIn has plenty of tools to help professionals network, like their premium accounts that let you contact people outside of your network with ease. Groups can be harnessed to connect with people who are knowledgeable in your business area. Connecting on LinkedIn with people or businesses that you interact with during conferences or randomly throughout the year helps you maintain and build the strong business connections you need to thrive.

6. You Can Recruit Faster

LinkedIn has some powerful search tools, like their Skills and Expertise tool. Instead of posting a position and waiting for responses that you might waste time reading through, you turn the tables on traditional hiring and actively seek out someone to meet your needs. Good luck doing anything remotely similar on Facebook!

7. You’ll Have a Personal and Company Page

In order to have your small business on LinkedIn, you’ll need to create a personal page first and your company page second. By default you will have an opportunity to network on a personal level (to help your business) as well as on a business level. Now, LinkedIn will show for two separate search terms, your name and the name of your business. Your personal LinkedIn page will send people to your business page and vice-versa. For other ideas of how to use your personal page as a small business owner, check out this article on Fox Business.

8. Access to Recommendations Can Improve Your Reputation

LinkedIn recommendations can be leveraged to improve your small business’ reputation to prospective shoppers. To quote Guy Kawasaki again, “Increase your word of mouth referrals by asking your happy clients to write you a recommendation, which will be published on your LinkedIn profile and will be broadcast to their entire LinkedIn Network.” It only takes a few minutes in a day to sincerely and politely ask someone in person or through LinkedIn to write you a recommendation and it can help you a great deal.

The Choice is Yours

Ultimately, it’s up to you which social networking site you promote the most with your business. LinkedIn is a great, safe, and reliable platform to focus on if you’re unsure. Or you might want to adjust your currently marketing strategy to include LinkedIn as the primary focus of your activities. The benefits are there, so it’s up to you to take advantage of them.

What do you think of LinkedIn? How do you use it in your small business?

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