Of all the prevailing social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), LinkedIn may be the most chronically undervalued. The professional networking site, which allows you to make connections with people based on their career trajectories, doesn’t provide the best forum for direct sales to customers. But it can be a powerful tool for getting your name out within the industry and establishing dominance in a certain category of jewelry.
We asked social media expert Brian Carter, author of the new book LinkedIn for Business: How Advertisers, Marketers and Salespeople Get Leads, Sales and Profits from LinkedIn, to weigh in on why getting active on the site might be worth your time.
Brian Carter’s new book, LinkedIn for Business
JCK: How is this site distinctive amongst social media sites?
Brian Carter: Linkedin is a little bit more boring. But seriously, it’s so much more professional. If you want to put forth a professional viewpoint, you want to do it on LinkedIn.
JCK: In what ways can it bolster a retail business?
Carter: There are some really good opportunities for business-to-business marketing on LinkedIn. If you want to advertise specifically to companies, it’s the best network to do it on. You can get really targeted as well—you can target specifically CEOs of Fortune 500 companies or CMOs of Fortune 500 companies.
JCK: How would you recommend getting started with B2B marketing on the site?
Carter: Just start a LinkedIn group. People find these groups without any promotion. Once you have people in a group, you can send an email to them once a week. It’s called an announcement. You compose it in LinkedIn and they send it.
Or, say you want to be known within jewelry industry for something. You can create a group about that aspect. You can take the approach that everyone’s your competitor, or you can become the king or queen of a certain category. It facilitates relationships within your industry.
JCK: Does LinkedIn have a different etiquette code than, say, Facebook or other social networks?
Carter: When you go on groups, you definitely want to put on your best professional face. It’s not like on Twitter where you’re rewarded for talking about what you’re eating or disclosing personal details. And people will say that when you invite someone to be a connection, you need to personalize it with a note, but I don’t think people really care—it seems like advice that only sounds good.
JCK: Does it make any sense to join LinkedIn as a business if you don’t have a website?
Carter: There is a natural growth that happens with online marketing, and it should start with a website, then Google for search engine optimization, then looking at social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn. There does seem to be a difference, when it comes to [ease with techonology] with people who have grown up with computers and those who haven’t. But it’s fairly easy to get it all up and running.