LinkedIn professional social network

I don’t know if I’m right in thinking that my email inbox is peppered frequently with messages about the relative popularity of various social networking platforms, but it does seem that way.

And my impression is that, apart from the acknowledged leading duo of Facebook and Twitter, the buzz seems to be usually about one or other of Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and even Google Plus.

But not about LinkedIn.

And I suspect that, for many people, even the idea of LinkedIn being considered in any way “popular” might be a stretch.

3rd Most Popular Networking Site

So, even though I promote LinkedIn for business professionals, I was actually a bit surprised when I saw LinkedIn ranked as the 3rd most popular social networking site, on the eBizMBA Rank February 2014 result for the 15 top most popular social networking sites.

Not Pinterest, not Instagram, not even Google Plus, each of which seems even to me, with regard to LinkedIn, like comparing rainbow colours with drab grey – or, in the case of LinkedIn, a kind of blue grey, or grey blue.

In other words, LinkedIn, with its emphasis on professional issues and its more business-to-business than business-to-consumer focus, has never looked  – to me anyway – like a strong contender in the networking site popularity stakes.

Definitely not a fun site.

All the more interesting then, that it is up there in the lead for popularity, along with Facebook and Twitter.

LinkedIn 3rd most popular networking site

Popularity and Importance

But how relevant, really, is the “popularity” of a social networking platform for those of us whose focus is on promoting our professional services and whose area of engagement is more about business-to-business (B2B) than business-to-consumer (B2C)?

In my opinion, the popularity aspect is not irrelevant but it should not be the main criterion, or even one of the main criteria, in terms of where we put our attention and focus on a day to day basis as we navigate the social web and seek to engage with and influence those we want to serve.

So rather than focus on the relative popularity of the various social networks, I always ask business owners and other professionals to put their attention onto figuring out which of the various social networking platforms are more likely to serve their specific business interests.

For a retail business in fashion, or a restaurant or coffee shop, I would expect a focus on using Facebook, Twitter and maybe geo-location services like Foursquare. They could still use LinkedIn, but I would not expect them usually to give it any priority.

But for people offering professional services, especially B2B, when I am asked now “Do you think we should be active on LinkedIn?”, or some variation of that, my reply is “How can you afford not to?”.

Because the key issue is not popularity of a network, it is importance.

I had the experience the other day, quite close to home, of being asked once again whether I thought someone should give attention to LinkedIn for the good of their business. This was with my partner Suzie Cheel, and the question and my attempt to answer it turned into a conversation we recorded and posted as a podcast on my Linking Edge podcast – Conversation with Suzie Cheel, Artist and Heart Whisperer.

The podcast references my 14 day Linking Edge Intensive program which starts today (not too late to register!).

LinkedIn and You

How important (or, if you prefer, relevant) is LinkedIn, or any other network you consider, for the success of your business?

Should you be spending more time on LinkedIn?

If you are not sure, and have some questions you’d like answered in that regard, I’d like to have the opportunity to try and answer them, whether via the Comments section below or by email via the Contact page.

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Des Walsh is an executive coach. He helps business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide deal effectively with the feeling of being left behind or overwhelmed, or both, about social media – especially LinkedIn - and how to engage safely and effectively with social media to help grow their business. Connect with Des on LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter. And to stay in the loop, get Des’s weekly Social Business Bites (select snippets of his "best of the week" online finds).