OPINION

How many social media networks does a small business need?

Large government contractors have blogs, webinars, YouTube pages with lots of videos, white papers, people on Twitter, and a presence on multiple social networks. Even many of the mid-size companies engage on multiple platforms, producing lots of content.

Most of them also have teams of social media professionals to manage the various online activities.

When smaller companies with fewer resources see this, they often become overwhelmed. Some try to do it all, while others opt for doing little or nothing: why compete against a stacked deck?

There is a solution that makes sense. Pick the one venue where you can get the most “bang” for your limited bucks: that venue is LinkedIn.

A few weeks ago there was an article that pointed out that the U.S. Army was the No. 3 employer on LinkedIn, behind only IBM and Hewlett-Packard. So I did a little research and ran the numbers on all major federal agencies and many of the operating divisions. I came up with this:

  • 1,401,936 feds (DOD, Uniform personnel and civilians) are on LinkedIn.

This is about 1.5 percent of the total U.S. membership on LinkedIn. The individual agency stats are published in a post on my profile on LinkedIn.

In March, LinkedIn CEO Jeffrey Wiener discussed the current status and direction of LinkedIn. These were among the stats he presented:

  • Between 2008 and the end of 2013 LinkedIn had astounding growth, from 32 million members to 277 million, and now well past 300 million
  • 187 million monthly unique visitors in 2013
  • 47 billion page views in 2013
  • 41 percent of LinkedIn traffic was mobile in 2013, and this continues to grow
  • LinkedIn’s Value Proposition: Connecting talent with opportunity at massive scale.

Wiener also named three target areas for LinkedIn:

Identity - to be the professional profile of record

  • The LinkedIn profile is increasingly replacing the resume and is one of the top two places potential employees, potential partners and suppliers are vetted.
  • LinkedIn has added significant functionality to enhance profiles.

Network – to connect all of the world’s estimated 600 million professionals

Knowledge – to become the definitive professional publishing platform

LinkedIn Influencers are getting 80 million views per month

The ability of some members (more to come) to publish directly on LinkedIn. I was among the first to be invited and have been publishing on LinkedIn since March 12.

Admittedly these are aggressive goals, but the first two are well under way and the third has a decent start.

So what does this mean for small businesses?

First, without a doubt the government contracting market is on LinkedIn. Not only are the feds and military here, but all the major contractors are here as well. So if you are trying to influence the prime contractors, federal buyers, or both, they are here.

Second, you can publish and share on LinkedIn. This not only includes a blog-like presence, but SlideShare, the ability to post videos and more, including posting in groups.

Third, done properly, you can develop a “subject matter expert” status through your company profile and individual employee profiles. This gives you the ability to not simply level the playing field, but to create a “home field advantage” in your carefully defined area of expertise- you can stack the deck in your favor.

Fourth, you don’t need an advanced degree in social media to understand how to use LinkedIn.

LinkedIn offers the versatility a small business needs to stand out, define and claim an area of expertise, develop and share information with highly targeted audiences, and more.

All this and much more, most of which you can do with a free membership.

Oh, and by the way, when the total Army count is in, the Army is the No. 2 employer on LinkedIn.

About the Author

Mark Amtower advises government contractors on all facets of business-to-government (B2G) marketing and leveraging LinkedIn. Find Mark on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/markamtower.

Reader Comments

Thu, Sep 25, 2014 Amtower

I am not a LinkedIn employee or compensated in any way. A usually happy LI customer wh gets irritated (like many) when LinkedIn changes things with no notice. this is a very useful platform and small biz needs to leverage it better.

Wed, Sep 17, 2014 Natalie Adis Lakewood, NJ

Mark, great article as always! Love the numbers you pulled regarding the amount of feds that are on LinkedIn.

Tue, Sep 16, 2014 Bob Davis Reston, VA

Great comments! Small, and even many medium-size, businesses struggle with the nature and scope of their social media program. Employing effective business social media is both an art and a science. LinkedIn should certainly be at the top of their list.

Mon, Sep 15, 2014

Mr. Armtower: do you have a business relationship with LinkedIn? Ever been compensated by the company? Or are you just a highly satisfied customer? Just asking.

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