Asia-Pacific Connections Pte Ltd

September 2010

 

LinkedIn is a social-networking platform with more than 70 million members in over 200 countries and territories around the world (as of May 2010).  Unlike other social-networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn applies a more professional approach to connecting experienced professionals from around the world – including executives from all Fortune 500 companies.

Recent data from Alexa.com, revealed that the U.S. contributes the highest number of visitors to LinkedIn at 43.5 per cent, followed by India at 13 per cent – whilst China and Australia are ranked in the eighth and ninth positions with 2 per cent and 1.9 per cent of visitors respectively.  Most of the users are between ages 25 and 54 and have either attended or completed university or graduate school.  Users tend to browse the site at work, spending an average of 6.7 minutes per visit, with an average number of unique clicks of nine.

With a new member joining LinkedIn approximately every second, there are many ways for businesses to use the platform as a tool to meet company objectives.  A search in LinkedIn will reveal any member’s direct and indirect connections, as well as identify influential individuals at specific organisations.  This extensive, organised network can be an excellent channel to launch marketing and sales campaigns, as well as leverage existing connections and gain new contacts for expanded business opportunities.

As profiles are publicly available, it is advisable for businesses to manage their online profiles by providing ample information about the company – its specialties, products and experiences – to potentially connect with new clients, service providers and industry experts.  Minimally, the company logo should be included, as well as an up-to-date summary highlighting key areas of expertise, recommendations from customers and/or partners, and a link to the company website, blog or Twitter account.  Keywords can be indicated in the summary section to increase the company’s ranking on search engines and job openings can be posted to source external talent.

 

LinkedIn Groups

Organisations are reaching out to and engaging various online audiences using a variety of LinkedIn features.  Anyone can create a LinkedIn Group where the group manager can use the group-discussion feature to share product news and information with members delivered as email messages to everyone who opted into that group.  To get started, choose the name of the group using key words to help target members find the group in the Group Directory.  Invite employees, partners, customers and industry experts to join the group and engage in conversations.  With regular discussion updates and promoting the group on the company website, blog, e-newsletter and other social-media sites, more members can be attracted.  It is also recommended to create a custom webpage for the group on the company website, which can be used to provide more context, engagement and visibility for the LinkedIn group.

 

LinkedIn’s Q&A Forums

Active participation in LinkedIn’s Q&A forums fosters relationships amongst members and group managers.  By offering professional advice or asking questions and engaging in online communications, a company increases its visibility on the site as all posts are shown in the Network Updates feed in everyone’s profile who is connected to that company.  Heightened visibility often results in a wider network with greater business opportunities as like-minded professionals come together to share resources, collaborate on joint projects, gather data and solve problems.  Active participation in the Q&A forums enables companies to gain new insights and keep abreast of industry news.

 

Creating Analytics for LinkedIn

To date, LinkedIn does not have an analytics application, contrasted to Facebook where one can track the number of fans and followers, as well as click-through rates.  Businesses that wish to tap LinkedIn’s full potential have to create their own analytics system to evaluate the effectiveness of their LinkedIn profiles and groups in terms of lead generation.  This can be achieved by monitoring the number of new members each week, measuring site traffic and following LinkedIn-related leads and sales.

 

DirectAds 

Companies can also sell products or services through viral marketing on LinkedIn to raise brand awareness beyond the company’s direct network.  This new service called DirectAds is currently in the beta stage, but is already allowing businesses to push relevant ads to LinkedIn subscribers through selected demographic information.  Similar to ad targeting on Facebook or Google AdWords, this platform can also be integrated into the company’s marketing campaigns by cross-linking the company’s official website and posting announcements on its LinkedIn profile.

The following are additional applications that many businesses are using to enhance their LinkedIn profiles:

 

1. TripIt

TripIt allows business travellers to keep track of the location and travel status of other professionals within their LinkedIn network.  This allows travellers to meet like-minded professionals at industry events or catch up with old friends when their paths cross geographically.

 

2. Blog Link

Blog Link lets individuals link their blogs to their LinkedIn profiles, enabling them to continually share content with their network.  The application is supported by all blogging platforms and automatically displays the latest blog updates from one’s connections – keeping everyone informed of each other’s news and opinions.

 

3. Box.net

Box.net is a free service that allows people to share files with other professionals in the same network.  It includes flexible online storage to enhance the ease of collaborating, sharing and accessing files securely, and is very similar to the service provided by Google Docs.

 

4. SlideShare

SlideShare allows individuals to share presentations from meetings, webinars or conferences, regardless of their format. 
Businesses can import their existing presentations from SlideShare.net onto LinkedIn; thereby increasing the company’s visibility and helping to establish the company’s thought leadership within their network.  Synchronising a SlideShare account with a LinkedIn account will also produce automatic updates whenever one uploads a presentation onto either of the platforms.

 

Case Study: The Accidental Entrepreneur, Henk Van Ess

One of the famous LinkedIn success stories is the case of “The Accidental Entrepreneur,” Henk Van Ess.  As a Dutch consultant and speaker specialising in training media professionals to use technology, Van Ess was not looking for a business venture on LinkedIn.  However, he was quick to notice an obvious opportunity, which allowed him to start a profitable business.

It all began when Van Ess found fault with his iPhone’s battery.   Frustrated with its short battery life, he sought advice for his problem from his LinkedIn groups.  Through his forum postings, a representative of a Chinese manufacturer contacted him and offered him a solution – a new battery.

After his purchase, Van Ess was pleased with the results and began to share his experience by updating his status bar with these words, “You hate the battery life of your iPhone too?  Perhaps I have the cure”.  Soon, he was flooded with requests from his network to purchase the battery, and with the large demand, he was asked to become a distributor for the Chinese vendor.   Van Ess set up an online shop and received orders from a massive 1,200 customers on the first day.  He has since been collaborating with the same Chinese company to develop a better battery, called 3GJuice.

Van Ess’ success story demonstrates how LinkedIn can be utilised to tap into business opportunities.  Through due diligence in uploading content, having an accessible and updated profile, and actively participating in group discussions, he was able to not only find a solution to a personal problem; but he managed to address the growing demand of an unexploited market within his own network.  It proves that effective communications – through the appropriate use of social-networking tools – can be helpful in connecting with your target market, creating brand awareness and growing your customer base.

 

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