LinkedIn was founded by Reid Hoffman in 2002 as a business-oriented social network. It differs from Twitter and Facebook because its primary use is professional networking, job searching and recruiting. Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn members, and more than 2 million companies have developed LinkedIn Company Pages. With more than 150 million users in more than 200 countries and territories, LinkedIn is the 36th most-visited website worldwide. The management team consists of experienced executives from PayPal, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Electronic Arts and TiVo.
The largest growing demographic of new LinkedIn members is students and recent college graduates. As a result, LinkedIn is an excellent way for companies to manage human resources, including advertising open positions, hiring and training. While companies can choose from a variety of services, most of them require a fee-based subscription. For large companies, corporate recruiting solutions have excellent ROI. Small and mid-sized companies may want to select specific solutions rather than subscribing to comprehensive recruiting packages. LinkedIn allows candidates to conduct basic searches for job postings free of charge, but charges a fee for other premium job search and placement services. LinkedIn also boasts its own mail client, InMail, that allows companies and job seekers to send secure correspondence regarding available positions.
Just as individuals use LinkedIn to search for jobs, businesses can use it to navigate and test new market strategies on the global market. In fact, 60 percent of LinkedIn members are located outside the United States. Businesses can successfully tap into these resources by asking and answering questions on LinkedIn, getting involved in trade-related discussions and joining global economic groups.
What does the future hold for LinkedIn? Even as large job boards become too saturated with information to be useful, expect LinkedIn to continue to be used primarily for supporting job searches, career changes and recruiting. LinkedIn will also continue to focus on mobile application development — nearly 15 percent of its users access the application on mobile devices.
One area where LinkedIn sees room for further development is social networking. In February 2012, LinkedIn publicly announced that it acquired a start-up social network company called Rapportive. One of Rapportive’s successes is a browser plug-in that acquires contact information from users on Facebook and Twitter, and places them into Google’s Gmail. LinkedIn has not yet announced how it will leverage Rapportive’s technology. Other websites have also started to network with LinkedIn, leading the site in perhaps unlikely directions: In January 2012, a dating site called Hitch.me was launched for LinkedIn professionals.
Josh Dolin, founder of Scottsdale-based Tempo Creative and author of The Web Guru Guide, has provided expertise to entrepreneurs and business executives across the United States for more than a decade. The digital marketing firm has helped more than 500 companies of all sizes achieve greater success through effective marketing.
Untapped and Underutilized
LinkedIn added an overwhelming number of features in 2011. Take a closer look at some features of LinkedIn that companies are still not fully utilizing:
This daily newsletter allows the user’s professional network to receive the latest customized industry information and share articles. It works by aggregating news from various sources and connections, and displays it in a visually appealing format. For example, each time a user shares an article, it receives a vote. If the person who voted is associated with that particular industry, the article receives an additional boost in popularity.
Statistics Dashboard for Groups
The statistics dashboard allows users to drill down into the demographics, growth and activity of other users with a simple-to-read graphic display. Rather than spending valuable time compiling marketing data, companies can consult the statistics dashboard to quickly analyze comments and discussions, and even track career changes of group members. Businesses should be sure to use the dashboard to make decisions regarding only well-established or relevant group members.
Polls for Groups
With more than one million established groups, LinkedIn added a polling application in late 2011. The polling feature allows page administrators to measure sentiment about a new direction before a company makes a commitment. But businesses should beware of some users, who may join a group and subsequently use the polling feature to spam other users with unwanted advertisements.
Events and Event Manager
In 2001, Events Manager was updated to help members find pertinent events rapidly and effectively. A feature has been added to list local events specific to a member’s industry. In addition, once members indicate that they plan on attending an event, the event manager makes recommendations on attendees the member may want to meet.