Is LinkedIn any good for small businesses?

linkedin for small businesses

When it comes to social media marketing, LinkedIn tends to get brushed aside to make way for more popular and more fruitful platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. If you have a small business, it might be more difficult to find any value in LinkedIn (even Google+ seems to have more benefits, such as SEO).

I read a very interesting article recently: “10 Things LinkedIn won’t tell you”. Most of its insights―though aimed at individuals―made me even more doubtful about the platform’s usefulness for small businesses. Below are some important points from the article:

  1. We say social network, you say jobs site

LinkedIn markets itself as a “social network and online platform for professionals”… but analysts say that it’s more of a traditional jobs site… Indeed, many people spend time rejecting “I’d like to connect” invitations from total strangers… A jobs site doesn’t earn as much money from advertisers as a social network.

Why this is a problem: Any online marketing needs to be based on platforms which you can get value out of when you post/advertise on them. If LinkedIn truly is a jobs site, then unless your business is hiring, job hunters are not going to be able to help you.

  1. People don’t really hang out on LinkedIn

LinkedIn may have more members than Twitter’s registered 284 million monthly active users… But people don’t spend very much time hanging around–and more time spent on a website means more ad revenue… 

People browse Twitter and Facebook news feeds for the latest news and updates from their friends and celebrities, but LinkedIn’s news feed tends to trend more toward work anniversaries, updates about the latest work/life issues and stories about using LinkedIn to network. 

Why this is a problem: If people are spending less time on LinkedIn than other platforms, the chance that they’ll see―or take the time to search for―your company updates is minimal. If they are logging into the platform, they’re more likely to be building their own profile and looking up connections. This means your page gets little or zero visibility.

  1. Our site is confusing 

If the difference between endorsements and recommendations sounds confusing, it gets worse the deeper you get into the site… One theory: LinkedIn can be overwhelming to users partly because it tries to fulfill so many different services for job seekers, companies and recruiters… Users complained about the complex navigation and excessive emails from the site… Online forums are full of complaints about how confusing it is to sign up. 

Why this is a problem: This is a worrying fact. If users are struggling to even sign up or navigate the site, then your business profile/page is the last thing they’ll look for. Plus there are so much more ‘How-Tos’ and help guides available for the other platforms, that it might be worth focusing your attention elsewhere.

  1. Our needy members will creep you out & Fake profiles are getting out of control

LinkedIn members often have something to sell when they contact you. Members usually connect with potential business contacts, people in their industry and/or potential employers… And the mysterious silhouettes under “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” can spook some users. 

LinkedIn is full of fake profiles, and some recruiting pros say the problem is getting worse… some experts say fake profiles are a bigger threat to LinkedIn than Facebook or Twitter, because LinkedIn asks members to pay for subscription services.

Why this is a problem: Privacy is an increasing concern online. Too many strangers on LinkedIn have contacted me demanding (not requesting) help. Facebook already penalizes business pages for being too promotional or spammy, but LinkedIn doesn’t have similar controls in place. The more LinkedIn becomes a hostile place for digital privacy, the less trust it will hold and consequently fewer people will sign up or spend time on the site.

  1. We need to attract younger users 

Younger users are key to membership growth, but LinkedIn is the only one of the top five online platforms where members are more likely to be aged 30 to 64 than to be 18 to 29 years old… Only 23% of LinkedIn users are aged 18 to 29; 61% are aged 30 to 64, while 21% are aged 65 and over. Other sites have far more members in the 18-to-29 age bracket… 

Why this is a problem: This is a major issue for audience growth. Any younger users that are using the site could simply be job seekers. Of course, this isn’t a problem if your only target audience or customers are ‘older’ consumers.

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These insights are overwhelmingly negative for LinkedIn marketing. In a next post, we’ll take a look at what you can do to make the most out of the platform. Do you see any benefit in using LinkedIn for small businesses?

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