No better time to get LinkedIn

Whether business should use social media or not is no longer open to debate – with 60% of the professional workforce on LinkedIn, there is no excuse not to invest time and money developing a strategy.

More so than ever before, business leaders know that time is money. Economic volatility and changing consumer demands and behaviours means that many businesses, including those in the retail environment, are facing increasing pressures.

In this environment, it can be difficult to justify the time required to understand and engage with social media for business purposes. However, the debate around social media has now moved from one of value to one of strategy. Social media is more popular and is growing faster than most people even realise, and business leaders can no longer afford to ignore it.

Did you know that two people worldwide sign up to professional networking site LinkedIn every second? This equates to 1 million new members each week! In Australia, there are around 3 million LinkedIn members, estimated to equal approximately 60 per cent of the professional workforce. So to those business leaders still toying with the idea of engaging in social media – now is the time to get in the game!

As chief executive and managing director of Stuart Alexander, a company which distributes and markets a range of iconic international premium brands, I made the decision to explore the business benefits of LinkedIn at a recent forum we hosted with Cliff Rosenberg, MD of LinkedIn Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia. The forum, which was attended by senior business leaders across the retail, communication, sporting and not-for-profit sectors, explored how companies and brands can use LinkedIn to improve public awareness and target potential customers and employees. During his presentation, Cliff shared a number of tips and insights for using LinkedIn that many business owners may not be aware of:

LinkedIn offers an opportunity to present your professional and company brand via a platform that’s search engine optimised

According to Deloitte, 59 per cent of Australians use search engines every day or almost every day (Vox Populi: State of the Media Democracy Survey, June 2012), so it’s a given that potential employees, employers, customers and competitors will search for you or your brand online. LinkedIn is highly optimised for search and a completed profile will rate as one of the highest results in an online search. This means that LinkedIn offers an opportunity for business owners to ensure those who do search for their company will see the information they want them to see first.

It pays to be an early adopter

Around 2 million companies worldwide already have LinkedIn company pages. Research conducted by LinkedIn has found that people generally don’t follow the LinkedIn pages of more than 2.5 companies per sector. This means that if business owners want to connect with this audience, there’s a definite advantage in being one of the first in their sector or area to create a LinkedIn company page.

LinkedIn Today delivers customised daily news

The news stories provided via LinkedIn Today are different for every member, with relevant articles from a range of reputable publications worldwide. Savvy business leaders can use this information in a variety of ways to benefit their businesses: these articles may contain competitor intelligence; they can be shared with LinkedIn connections and relevant LinkedIn Group pages to spark a discussion; or even be used as inspiration for developing company thought leadership.

LinkedIn provides a unique recruitment opportunity with real ROI

I’m sure the majority of professionals have been contacted by recruiters on LinkedIn, but there’s a good reason for it: it’s one of the few ways to target the passive job market. It’s also possible to place very targeted ads and updates. For example, do you want to place a job advertisement that will only be seen by LinkedIn members with eight years’ business development experience, based in Brisbane, who speak French? Believe it or not, this is possible! Companies are able to segment their LinkedIn followers by a range of variables such as industry, seniority, job function, company size, non-company employees, and geography. This allows the company to then send different status updates or make job advertisements visible to different groups of followers.

While using LinkedIn to its full potential does require a time investment, like any other business endeavour, I believe the benefits of doing so far outweigh this requirement. LinkedIn, along with social media more broadly, offers businesses an opportunity to connect with customers. At a time when customer engagement is becoming more crucial for business success, this is an opportunity that all companies should embrace.

Garry Browne is the chief executive and managing director of Stuart Alexander, which imports, markets and distributes premium brands across various categories including food and beverage, confectionery, snacks and chocolate.

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