“LinkedIn is dead.” You’ve probably heard this before, but here’s the truth: LinkedIn is most definitely alive and kicking for the nearly 260 million people who use it, and it remains an extremely widely adopted social networking site. For businesses using PR campaigns to help cut through a sea of online chatter, LinkedIn is certainly an asset, creating a path to reach genuine brand champions and advocates. The platform also helps create targeted groups that can accomplish some serious reputation management through online conversations.
LinkedIn reached its 100 millionth registered user in early 2011, which made it one of the top four social networking sites at that time (MySpace, Twitter and Facebook were the other three). LinkedIn was growing by around a million new users per week in 2011. In June of 2013, there were more than 259 million users in more than 200 territories. About 84 million of these are U.S. users. The next biggest LinkedIn consumer is India, where 22 million are registered. Brazil has 15 million users and the U.K. has 12 million.
Of course, it isn’t perfect. Some business subscribers don’t believe they have enough leverage using LinkedIn to do any serious data mining, which makes the $75-a-month executive membership seem overpriced to some. A more common complaint is that LinkedIn sends out too many emails to subscribers. But despite these annoyances, LinkedIn still works when businesses “work it.” How?
1. Promoting products and engaging in conversations are valuable activities that make LinkedIn a valid social networking tool for public relations. Public relations strategies must include starting conversations on multiple message platforms, and with so many people tied to LinkedIn, it’s a valid piece of the puzzle. When businesses utilize this tool, they’re driving more interaction and traffic to their sites.
2. Building professional relationships through LinkedIn allows users to find advocates to champion the brand/company reputation, a top PR trend for 2014. It used to be that a company controlled its brand’s voice and message; today, social media has put much of this power in the hands of product or service advocates. When users choose a circle of connection in LinkedIn, they’re able to promote key messages within these selected circles, which helps maximize the power of tapping into brand champions.
3. PR professionals use LinkedIn to build their contacts; contacts allow them to get more results, like earned news coverage or product reviews. LinkedIn allows users to import their current libraries of contacts from their email accounts into their LinkedIn contact lists. LinkedIn even offers some assistance in building contacts by recommending people you might know or should know.
On the same note, journalists are increasingly adopting LinkedIn as a tool to build references and contacts, which is a perfect scenario for PR professionals constantly trying to connect with the right journalist who can help publicize a message. PR professionals are also linking their Twitter accounts with their LinkedIn accounts, which means anything they post on Twitter will automatically appear on LinkedIn.
4. Join us – groups are truly a good thing. By creating, launching, promoting and joining LinkedIn groups, PR pros can curate and steer specific conversations about the companies they’re working with. There’s no doubt that weeding through the constant stream of social media and real-time updates can be overwhelming to businesses trying to manage their online reputations – but PR pros who tap into LinkedIn groups can help zero in on the conversations that matter most. This becomes even more important should a crisis arise because the trust and connections LinkedIn activity helps create can be part of a quick crisis management strategy.
As Warren Buffet puts it, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” LinkedIn activity, as part of a PR campaign, can help both build and protect a strong reputation.
Axia Public Relations continues to use every relevant social networking platform to achieve results for clients, especially as part of an overall smart PR strategy. From start-ups to major brands, finding the right channel for your message likely includes savvy use of LinkedIn. Contact us today to learn more and follow Axia on LinkedIn.
– Jason Mudd, APR, is CEO of Axia Public Relations. He is an Emmy-Award-winning accredited public relations practitioner, speaker, author and entrepreneur. His public relations portfolio includes work for established national and emerging brands such as American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, Brightway Insurance, Florida Blue, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, It Works! Global, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Ray Charles, Southern Comfort, Verizon and more. Connect with Jason at @jasonmudd9 and Axia Public Relations at @axiapr. Be sure to tweet and share your thoughts below. We’ll read and respond to each of them.