I’m 40-years old. I have no problem admitting it. Many years ago, I graduated from college and had to look for a job as soon as I came back from New Orleans to Puerto Rico. This meant writing a resume and sending it by email to different head hunters, as well as looking for job opportunities posted in local newspapers. At that time, resumes were sent by email and there were no job search websites like Monster or Career Builder; there was no social network in which individuals could gather to both look for a job and build a professional network. There was no social channel for companies to create their profile, post jobs or screen candidates based on other criteria, such as their reputation and relationships. There was not a place in which self-employed people, like myself, could find potential clients and share industry information with other professionals. Fast forward to the year 2003, when Reid Hoffman and some of his colleagues from Social Net and Paypal launched LinkedIn, thus providing a place in which professionals can meet. In LinkedIn is 10-Years Old Today: Here’s the Story of How it Changed the Way we Work, Ken Yeung says, “Simply finding an appealing job and submitting a resume isn’t enough — now companies are looking for personalized approaches and recommendations from networks.” LinkedIn has transformed this process by offering both companies and individuals valuable tools for a more valuable process.
With the slogan “Your network is bigger than you think,” LinkedIn was launched in 2003. Users could join by creating and completing a professional profile. The idea was for them to start building their networks so they could have professional presence online in order look for job opportunities or find collaboration from other connections. Hiring managers would post job opportunities and look for candidates. Even though the initial goal was 1 million users during the first few months, LinkedIn was off to a slow start during the first two years. However, by 2005, it had 1.7 million professionals. Below is a screenshot of what LinkedIn looked like on 2003:
During 2005, the company began to add revenue-generating features like LinkedIn Jobs, which distanced drastically from job search websites like Monster, because this service provided companies with much more valuable information about candidates, including how many people have publicly endorsed a particular candidate. Also, companies posting jobs could find references from the candidate’s co-workers. The idea with LinkedIn jobs was to cut the clutter and provide companies with a closer opportunity to reach highly-qualified candidates. For the years to follow, the company continued the trend of adding more features, became public in 2011 and, by 2014, it has more than 300 million users around the globe and is available in more that 20 languages. Currently, the slogan is “Relationships Matter.”
Target Audience/User Profile
LinkedIn targets professionals looking for jobs and opportunities for networking, as well as recruiters who want to post job opportunities and professionals working at companies looking to grow their business. According to Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, as of January 2014, LinkedIn average users have the following profile:
- Men and women (men being more like to use LinkedIn)
- Between ages 30-64
- 22% of Internet users use LinkedIn
- Graduated from college or Grad School
- Household income: $75k+
- Currently employed
- 52% spend 0-2 hours per week on LinkedIn
How does it work
For individuals seeking for a job, they complete a sign-up process, which is free, and then begin to create a profile. The profile includes information commonly found on a resume, such as email address, education, experience, skills, projects, associations, courses, volunteer experience, organizations, languages, skills and endorsements, and interests. Once the profile is ready, users begin to look for connections, meaning people they know or would like to meet. The main idea about these connections is how can each one can help people grow their professional network by introducing others. Finally, they can make recommendations for employment, as well as help reach potential customers. Users can search for connections by email contact, name, classmate search or by linking contacts from Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail or other accounts. After finding connections and contacts, members can begin discovering LinkedIn, including finding job opportunities, getting introduced to potential employers, joining various special interest groups, and posting relevant articles they may want to share with others. This is also a great way of sharing information with connections that they, in turn, will share with their connections. It’s another great way to put one’s name out there! Members of each user’s network are “connections” and there are 3 levels: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. The difference between each is related to how these people became your connection, as well as how they are related to your other connections. LinkedIn offers a guided, step-by-step process to create the basic profile. Here is a screenshot of this part:
Members can include attachments and links to projects on that profile. When listing volunteer associations, a person can include a link to that company so people can find out more information.
It is worth to devote part of this discussion to the Jobs section. LinkedIn provides candidates with a complete database of available jobs. Users can find a list of jobs, filtering the search by location, industry, position, and company name. After performing a search and getting results, a candidate can see the details of each post, including job description and desired skills, as well as other similar jobs. Candidates also have the option of applying for the job on either the company’s website or through LinkedIn by sending the resume and cover letter. Premium services allow them to send InMail messages to the job poster. Other features of each job post may include information about the company, recent updates, and other jobs at that company. Finally, there is the option to share the job opportunity on LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as an option to save it for viewing later.
Companies join LinkedIn by creating a company page. This helps build brand awareness, reach their target audience and share information regarding job opportunities. A company page includes a brief description, type of industry, company size and website, and specialties. Once they create the company page, they can also share status updates about relevant information about their company, articles, industry news or information relevant to those seeking for a job. For example, The Coca-Cola Company‘s LinkedIn page contains information about different Coca-Cola programs, as well as some articles directed to recently graduated student with tips for building a career. All status updates and articles are links to the Coca-Cola website, which is very effective in driving traffic to the website. Also, in terms of brand image and content, there is consistency, which is a very important part of integrated marketing communications.
There is a careers tab on the company page, which lists the job opportunities and directs candidates to the company website to further explore these opportunities.
Types of accounts
There are 2 types of accounts: Basic (free) and Premium (paid). According to The most popular ways people use LinkedIn, 85% of users have the basic account and 15% pay for premium services. The difference between paid and free accounts is how much information users can see, share, how to contact others, amount of search results, and find out more information about your profile views, among others. Premium accounts are divided into different categories related to different groups: business, job seeker, sales professional, and recruiter. All users create a profile with the basic account and then decide if they want to upgrade.
I. Basic account: This account is far from basic since it includes access to the most popular features. People can create a profile, build a network with unlimited connections, join LinkedIn Groups, create a company page, give recommendations, receive InMails, and request a limited amount of introductions.
II. Premium accounts (each one has 3 different types)
Business account: The difference between the three business accounts is related to visibility, reach, and search. For example, with the Business Executive, there is full name visibility of 3rd-degree connections, which is not possible with basic or other business accounts. This increases the chance of contacting more people. With Business Plus, users can send 10 InMail messages, compared to none on the basic account. These are available from $23.99 per month up to $74.99 per month.
Job Seeker: Job seekers willing to pay a monthly fee can get more benefits from a premium membership, like featured applicant, which moves job applications to the top of recruiter lists or see detailed salary information for each job. Premium services run from $19.99 per month to $59.99.
Recruiter: The 3 recruiter accounts differ in the way recruiters find and contact talent and how they recruit. For example, with Recruiter Light, members have access to the recruiter Iphone app and mobile website that those with the basic membership do not have. Plans run from $47.99 to $719.95 per month.
Sales Professional: These premium accounts help professionals find and engage with the right prospects, including connecting with them and building sales leads to close deals. Other benefits include Insights, which gives access to people seeing your profile in the last 90 days and full access to 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree networks.
Creating a profile is just the beginning. Here are some of LinkedIn features:
- People you may know: Provides a chance to connect with people who LinkedIn has established that the user may know based on the information on their profile and my connections. It’s a simple way for people to grow their networks. This feature was just optimized this year, making it simple and user-friendly by also including pending invites on the top of the page, rather than on the inbox, where people cannot see them. Also, it combines pending invitations with suggested contacts on the same page.
- You recently visited: Provides list of the last company pages or other profiles visited recently, just in case one needs to go back to them.
- Who’s viewed you profile: Here, people may take a look at who’s looking at them. The basic membership does not let users see 100% of this information here. In order to see a list of everyone who has viewed a profile, it is necessary to upgrade to a premium account. However, other available information related to this feature that people can see includes where those people viewing your profile are from (their location) and in what industry they work. Also, how people rank on profile views, compared to their connections, as well as tips for increasing the number of views. According to LinkedIn Shows You Who Visits Your Profile, “LinkedIn will provide suggestions based on how members from the same industry generated more page views. A suggestion could be as simple as adding a certain skill to your profile or joining a particular group.”
- Who’s viewed my updates: This is effective for evaluating whether or not content is relevant to my connections. It is a great way to find out if my content strategy is working or not. This also represents an opportunity to revise the content calendar and timings of posts.
- Recommendations and Endorsements: In 11 Incredibly Useful LinkedIn Features You Might Not be Using, Andrea Brinkman says, “Endorsements do however add to your presence on LinkedIn and can be thought of as a pantry full of your best keywords.” People can make recommendations and endorse other people’s skills. This helps each profile easier to be found in advanced searches. The best thing about these is that they are not time consuming. There is no need to sit and write a paragraph to recommend or endorse someone. For example, I can endorse a former colleague for their expertise on Trade Marketing by just visiting their profile. This is helpful information for recruiters looking for candidates with specific skills. The fact that with this feature other people recommend you makes it trustable.
- Groups: There are more than one million LinkedIn Groups. Social Media Today’s article, 7 Things That Can Get You Out of LinkedIn Groups When You Get Into’Em, discuss how Groups reflect a person’s business interests. People join them for different reasons, including getting advise from other professionals or viceversa, elevating reputation as experts by contributing and searching for opinions of others about particular topics. It is also a great opportunity to point people to a person’s blog or website. “Though it’s bad protocol to come on strong with sales pitches and promotions, it’s fair game and savvy to start in on an update or reply and point readers to your website, blog, videos and the like. Don’t be shy about offering links.” (Social Media Today). Here is an example of the type of discussions and how people can contribute from the SEO SEM Social Media group. It is important to highlight the difference between these conversations and those in Facebook, which is more oriented to social, not strictly business like LinkedIn.
According to The most popular ways people use LinkedIn, the top two features are who has viewed your profile and people you may know, followed by groups and direct messaging. I think the first two provide users more specific information, like knowing exactly who might be interested in you. Using these two features strategically, may result in more connections and, as a result, more opportunities. If only a few people are viewing your profile, this may be a sign of changing something in the profile.
Integration with other channels/mobile friendly
In terms of integration with other channels, LinkedIn provides users with the opportunity to specifically include their Twitter and WeChat accounts in their profile. There is also additional space to include up to three other websites, which may be a company or personal website, blog, Facebook page, RSS feed or portfolio, as part of the contact information. Other than that, there is the option to share other people’s updates and job postings only on LinkedIn and Twitter. My appreciation is that LinkedIn pretty much intends to keep information inside LinkedIn. The reason for this, I suspect, is that LinkedIn is meant to be a social network for professionals to interact, on a business level, not on a personal level. The two things people are able to share on social networks, like Twitter, are meant to be used for professional purposes. The option to share on Twitter is not showcased. Here is an example of an article posted by one of my contacts today. The Twitter icon is very small:
LinkedIn has a mobile friendly website, as well as an app I use on my Iphone. Both are as as efficient and complete as the desktop version. In terms of layout, colors, content, and menus, all three are consistent. Here is the mobile version and the app version:
LinkedIn also has a Facebook page and a couple of pages on Twitter. The Facebook page is updated with articles about human resources, economics, and innovation, among others. LinkedIn Jobs on Twitter is where they post some of the job opportunities, which then direct candidates to the LinkedIn page.
Advertising on LinkedIn
The lat part of this discussion will focus on advertising on LinkedIn. According to LinkedIn Paid Ads: A Beginner’s Guide, the are many misconceptions that businesses have of LinkedIn regarding using ads. Some of them include that fact that LinkedIn has a smaller audience than Facebook and Google. However, as Benjamin Spiegel discusses, there are many opportunities with LinkedIn ads, for instance, “achieve a very precise reach” because of targeting options. Also, the profiles contain more updated professional information about people, compared to Facebook, in which there is more detail about people’s social life. Because, as mentioned throughout this discussion, LinkedIn is a professional network, it makes more sense to post jobs here through ads than on Facebook or Google. Criteria available for reaching the right audience, includes job title, name of company for which prospect works, particular skills, role and seniority. Ads can also be created to sponsor updates. This can help companies to put their name out there with the intent of reaching decision makers, which may be part of their connections in the future and impact their businesses. There is a difference between targeting groups of people who might be interested in your product on Facebook and targeting people by job title. LinkedIn advertising works better for B2B promotions. This is why publishing an ad for LinkedIn should be considered by companies like mine, Buzzworthy Creations, to promote my products and services with the intent of finding prospects. The chance of reaching the right people may also increase return on investment. LinkedIn also provides campaign results, including reach and number of clicks.
Integrated Marketing Communications
Companies should include LinkedIn as part of their integrated marketing communications plan. This channel puts the social aspect on the side (which is what other social networks are about) and focuses strictly on business. By creating a company page, a business has more exposure and builds awareness, thus positively impacting SEO and their chance of being found. This exposure helps a company find potential clients, as well as high-profile candidates to work for them. It also means finding other people working in the same industry to exchange information or do business. LinkedIn is also an additional vehicle to position a company as an industry expert. By either keeping the basic profile, upgrading to premium or using advertising, LinkedIn represents an additional opportunity to grow a business.
Brinkman, A. (2014. April 21). 11 Incredibly Useful LinkedIn Features You Might Not be Using. Hubspot.com. Retrieved on July 1, 2014 from http://blog.hubspot.com/insiders/linkedin-features
Moyers, S. (2013. October 17). Take Your Brand to a New level with Linkedin Ads. Moz.com. Retrieved on July 1, 2014 from http://moz.com/ugc/take-your-brand-to-a-new-level-with-linkedin-ads
Piombino, K. (2013. July 30) The most popular ways people use LinkedIn. Ragan.com. Retrieved from http://www.ragan.com/Main/Articles/The_mostpopular_ways_people_use_LinkedIn_47070.aspx
Social Media Today. (2013. October 7). 7 Things That Can Get You Out of LinkedIn Groups When You Get Into’Em. Socialmediatoday.com. Retrieved on July 1, 2014 from http://socialmediatoday.com/feldmancreative/1798416/7-things-you-can-get-out-linkedin-groups-when-you-get-em
Spiegel, B. (2014. January 14). LinkedIn Paid Ads: A Beginner’s Guide. Marketinglando.com. Retrieved on July 1, 2014 from http://marketingland.com/linkedin-paid-ads-a-beginners-guide-69920
Yeung, K. (2013. May 5). LinkedIn is 10-Years Old Today: Here’s the Story of How it Changed the Way we Work. Thenextweb.com. Retrieved on July 1, 2014 from http://thenextweb.com/insider/2013/05/05/linkedin-10-years-social-network/