If you were to invoke fairy tales in the world of social media, you might compare LinkedIn to Cinderella.
While the step-sisters Facebook and Google Plus have been preparing for the Prince’s big party, LinkedIn has been quietly going about an incredible overhaul of its system and is building up a larger and larger user base.
Many business owners and marketers are still thinking about LinkedIn as it was a year ago – a nice place to get a backlink for the business and a great place to build up one’s own personal brand.
Surprise! Things Have Changed
If you haven’t been paying attention, you’ll probably be surprised to discover it’s become a robust social media platform with many features that trump even the others.
If you’ve missed these changes you mustn’t be too hard on yourself. LinkedIn’s engineers have been as busy as the fairy godmother getting ready for the ball. Users often find that a feature that was there yesterday, like LinkedIn Answers, is gone today, and that other features have been completely changed.
If you’re in the middle of writing a book or making a training video on LinkedIn, you have my sympathy: all those screenshots need to be redone.
To keep your head above water with all of these changes, consider LinkedIn as an eco-system.
In its easiest form, LinkedIn has four main “worlds:”
- Personal Brand
- Company or Organization
Everything in LinkedIn revolves around the contact: you develop your own profile and connect with others. If you compare what can go into a personal profile with those of Google Plus and Facebook, you can see that LinkedIn’s is by far the most robust.
The personal profile component is where most individuals are active on LinkedIn. Several features have been enhanced, such as publications and projects, wherein you can add others that participated with you. Not only does this create a cross-connectedness of relevance, it reminds those individuals of your own existence as you add them.
Many people aren’t just adding a book they wrote, or a particular blog — but individual articles and blog posts, too. Each of these additions is another opportunity for keywords to be introduced that increase your chance of appearing in search results.
While many of us only have a handful of different jobs over decades, the projects feature allows you to add individual projects. Perhaps you worked on an e-commerce implementation for a client? You can add that project, and, like publications, include the names of other participants. When you add others, they are notified, and can allow that project to show in their own profile.
Companies Or Organizations
Companies are, of course, made up of people. As each person adds their various jobs, projects, and publications, the system creates connections with the appropriate companies along with everyone else who is connected with the organization. Companies can add services and products, various images, connect with groups, and can share updates.
When it comes to search, LinkedIn has a long way to go. Many have discovered that it isn’t difficult to apply techniques that have long been considered black hat SEO, by stuffing their profiles with keywords.
What’s the benefit to businesses? Josepf Haslam of DragonSearch recently said, “I’ve received over half-a-dozen inbound sales leads just in the past three weeks.” I, myself, have received several inquiries from journalists and conference organizers. LinkedIn also lets you know who’s been looking at your profile.
With that information in hand, you can see when and if potential or existing clients have been doing their due diligence.
If you are like many, you might still believe that LinkedIn is a place where you seek out or are found for your next career. Its human resource value is powerful, but quickly taking a back seat to the potential of a mighty social media platform connecting individuals and businesses in even more ways.
The dusty housekeeper has grown up, and is now a beautiful princess.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.