Originally contributed by Eun Rockwell. Last updated May 2023.
LinkedIn is a social platform like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like, but unlike these other platforms, it is focussed on business. It is a networking platform for professionals to connect, learn, and share knowledge. It is designed to allow people to create business connections, find jobs, share their experiences, and learn from experts.
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How is LinkedIn different from Facebook?
Although it focuses on professionals, this platform works similarly to the popular social platform Facebook. It uses the same principles of connecting to friends, posting updates, liking and sharing content, and messaging each other.
LinkedIn also adds a professional spin to popular ideas from Facebook. For instance, your profile can be your resume, and you can add your recommendations, accomplishments, work experience, referrals from colleagues, etc. There are also several other things that you will find exclusively on LinkedIn, such as a full-featured career board, for users to search for jobs they fit into and apply for.
Many companies and employment services now use LinkedIn. When you apply for a position through LinkedIn, there’s a possibility that you can share your LinkedIn profile, and this may mean that you do not need to go through the pain of entering your work experience in an online form.
Main features of LinkedIn
These are the basic features of LinkedIn and how they are designed for professionals.
- Feed: the LinkedIn feed works just like on any other social network, with opportunities to react to, share, or comment on people’s posts. The main difference is that the underlying themes of everyone’s posts are business-related topics.
- Hashtags: as well as following other people, you can also follow specific hashtags on LinkedIn. Posts using these hashtags will populate your feed along with your connections’ posts
- Profile: this includes your details such as name, photo, location, occupation, your posts, workplaces and more. You can customize different sections such as education, work experience, and summary, to create something similar to a traditional CV or resume.
- Groups: There are LinkedIn Groups on almost any topic. LinkedIn does not moderate these groups and so many of them do fill up with spam. However, if you find the right one for a topic they can be amazing places to talk about a specific topic with relevant professionals.
- My Network: this is where you find a list of professionals you’re connected with on this platform. On LinkedIn instead of ‘Friends’ (as on Facebook) you have ‘Connections’. There is a limit of 30,000 connections.
- Following: If you want to see someone’s posts but don’t know them personally, instead of connecting you can ‘Follow’ them. This creates a one-way connection – their posts appear in your feed, but not the other way around.
- Jobs: LinkedIn is one of the best places to look for a new job as recruiters use it as one of their top tools. If you set yourself as “open to opportunities” then LinkedIn will recommend jobs to you depending on your job preferences, location, and current information.
- Learning: LinkedIn’s Lynda platform is full of useful professional courses. They are not free, but many organisations buy memberships which anyone working there can use.
- Messages: you can message other users and start a conversation by sending a private message on LinkedIn. The messaging feature also allows you to send attachments, photos, etc.
- InMail: this feature is only available for premium users and it allows them to send messages directly to LinkedIn without a prior connection, unlike the basic messaging that requires connecting.
- Newsletters: LinkedIn has a newsletter feature that you can invite people to subscribe to. There are endless newsletters on virtually any (business-related) topic so it can be hard to find the most useful ones. However, when you are invited to join one you can click the name of it to see the last post – which should give you a good idea.
Join/Subscribe freely to LinkedIn groups and Newsletters. They are often great for a short while. Leave when they stop being helpful.
Main Ways to Use LinkedIn
- Reconnect with old colleagues: “My Network” section on LinkedIn helps you to find old teachers, friends, colleagues, and people you may be familiar with and you think should be part of your professional network.
- Find jobs you can apply for: LinkedIn is the ideal platform to search for online job postings. You can get recommendations about jobs that may interest you from LinkedIn, but the search bar can also help you search for specific postings.
- Use your LinkedIn profile as a resume: it is possible to use your LinkedIn profile because it represents your complete resume. So, you can add a link to your profile in your cover letter or email when you are applying for jobs. Some job-hunting websites also allow you to connect to your profile on LinkedIn so you can import your information when applying for a job.
- Find new professionals to connect with: apart from your old colleagues and current co-workers that you can connect with on LinkedIn, it also allows you to find new professionals to connect with, both locally and internationally. And this may help your professional endeavours in many ways.
- Join relevant groups: one of the most effective ways to connect with new professionals is by joining groups that relate to your profession and interests and participating in the discussions. You may get more people to connect with you from the group if they like your contributions.
- Publish your blog: LinkedIn also has a publishing platform (called Pulse) to publish blog posts. Your published blog posts will be on your profile, which will boost your credibility in fields related to your profession.
- Send a newsletter: LinkedIn Newsletters have the advantage of having an audience you can immediately invite to be readers. Instead of spending time building up a following, you can get one overnight if your newsletter is good enough.
- Promote your business: similar to Facebook, LinkedIn features business pages that are free to set up, and that LinkedIn users can follow. Publish posts or blogs on the platform, or even get subscribers to an email list to connect with people interested in your company.
- Advertising: advertising on LinkedIn is possible through LinkedIn’s advertising platform, Campaign Manager. Different types of ads you can run on LinkedIn are sponsored content, dynamic ads, text ads, and message ads.
Advertising on LinkedIn
The advantage of advertising on LinkedIn is that they have a lot of information on their users that other social networks don’t have. For example, job title, industry, work history etc.
For B2B advertisers this can be a gold mine. You can target people who are exceptionally likely to be interested in whatever product you are selling. Similarly for recruiters, you can find people with the appropriate experience and headhunt them with direct messages.
LinkedIn is not a cheap social network to advertise on. As the advertising is so targeted and the targeting information isn’t available elsewhere they can charge a premium.
You should think carefully before advertising on LinkedIn. A well-targeted campaign can give great results, but a badly-targeted one can be costly.
7 Facts About LinkedIn
- LinkedIn has around 300 million monthly active users, but they only spend 17 minutes per month on the site on average.
- Almost 40% of users pay for LinkedIn premium, making it much less reliant on advertising revenue than other social networks.
- After the USA – India, Brazil, Great Britain and Canada have the highest number of Linkedin users.
- Users are 20x more likely to share videos than other forms of content on LinkedIn (although 80% of users watch with the sound off).
- 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn for Content Marketing, and 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn.
- Only around 0.5% (3 million users) out of LinkedIn’s 600 million registered users post weekly or more.
- 41% of millionaires use LinkedIn, and 90 million LinkedIn users are senior-level influencers (63 million are in decision-making positions).
Find out more
- LinkedIn Engagement Rate
- LinkedIn CTR Calculator
- The Top 30 Digital Marketing LinkedIn Accounts
- Free courses from LinkedIn (on how to use LinkedIn)