When you think of social selling platforms for B2B, LinkedIn is probably the first one that comes to mind. Whereas social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are informal by nature, LinkedIn provides a professional atmosphere for businesspeople to connect.
Despite LinkedIn’s reputation as the ultimate B2B platform, it has some kinks to work out. Feeds are becoming increasingly jammed with Work Anniversary notifications, and its limited user experience has some professionals up in arms.
We asked social media experts what they think about LinkedIn’s status as a B2B networking platform:
Q: LinkedIn is increasingly touted as THE “social selling” platform for B2B brands, especially in conjunction with ABM (account based marketing) AND our feeds seem to be increasingly cluttered with Work Anniversary notifications. How are you feeling about LinkedIn these days?
Andrea Hofer, Global Social Media Manager at Philips Healthcare: Each social channel is catered to different people and different facets of life and therefore we see different content being shared. Not a lot of people would share business content on Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat, but they would do so on LinkedIn or Twitter. Conversely, those wedding pictures are kept off LinkedIn to maintain a professional presence.
I personally often find my LinkedIn newsfeed more interesting than my Facebook newsfeed. The professional nature of the platform results in a lot of social cooling, but what I lose in personal stories I gain in the quality/relevancy of links shared. Additional post tagging/filtering options would increase relevance, such as life event, work anniversary, job opportunity, case study, etc. I have found that nothing beats LinkedIn for targeting the medical C-suite. Facebook may be cheaper, but you are not able to effectively drill down to that audience.
Jennifer Forrest, Director of Social Media at DEG Digital: I think there’s a misconception that LinkedIn is the only tool for B2B selling. Don’t get me wrong, LinkedIn is still the king of the B2B selling experience, but it’s not the only player. Facebook is the more efficient platform from an ad targeting perspective. But that misconception comes with a similar one about who B2B buyers are. They are still people who live and consume products in a B2C world on a daily basis. So, it’s not crazy for Facebook and other platforms to be viable options for B2B, but LinkedIn is still at the top.
Drew Neisser, CEO of Renegade, LLC: I have a love hate thing going with LinkedIn right now. I love using it as a directory akin to the old white pages to research folks I’ve met or might want to connect with down the road. For that function alone it is unrivaled. But because I’ve met so many people over the course of my career and it seems that every single one of them have become publishers, my feed is more than just useless – it’s annoyingly so. I’d love to see them kill work anniversaries and maybe even birthdays and then figure out how to filter out the drivel that masquerades as useful content.
Q: Are you spending more or less time on LinkedIn, and if so, why?
Stephen Monaco, Founder of Future Marketing Institute: LinkedIn feels lackluster to me now so I’m spending less time on it than I did in the past. Like so many others, I quickly grew tired of accepting invitations from people who then started pitching me within minutes of becoming a connection. This is off putting to say the least.
Brian Moran, entrepreneurial consultant: I’m not spending enough time on it and I blame LinkedIn for that. LI is arguably the best research tool for business (selling is 90% preparation and 10% presentation). LI tells me so much of what I need to know for the 90% part of that rule, and yet I could be doing so much more on the platform.
Joel Comm, Author, speaker, brand influencer: I spend very little time on Linkshare as it is mostly noise. I do enjoy Slideshare and find it the best way to deliver new content to the platform.
Jason Falls, Founder of Conservation Research Institute: When I spend significant time on LinkedIn, I get business. That said, I don’t care for its user experience much, so I don’t spend a lot of time there that I don’t need to. Still, the improvements they’ve added over the last two years are good, have improved the site and experience and are more conducive to people connecting with the right people for business purposes. The notifications are trivial … you can turn them off by notification type if you don’t like them. LinkedIn is still a fertile ground for me, anyway.
Forrest: LinkedIn has made huge strides throughout the past year from a user standpoint. It’s much more of an interactive experience than it has been in the past, making it easier to spend more time on the platform.
Neisser: I find myself spending more time on LinkedIn mainly to make sure I not only understand its capabilities for social selling but also to become a true expert practitioner of social selling. Not surprisingly, this is connected to Renegade’s growing Social Selling Training practice.
LinkedIn may not be perfect, but it’s still an effective networking tool for businesses. The platform’s research capabilities and huge web of professionals provide valuable resources for any B2B seller. If you can look past its limitations, LinkedIn may be worth its weight in gold.