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Four Ways to Use LinkedIn for Ecommerce

The company pages LinkedIn users visit most frequently are available directly on their personal home pages.

For many years, LinkedIn has been regarded as the online network for just one thing: getting a job. The site has been quite successful – its memberships numbers crossed the 100 million threshold last year – but with the rise of more general social networks like Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn has developed features that can help build your business as well as your personal career. Here are four ways your Internet business can get the most out of LinkedIn.

Create a company page. Just as LinkedIn members connect with other LinkedIn members, you can also follow companies on the service. Large brands and companies have led the way here, but a growing number of smaller businesses are using these pages to organize news about their venture and give customers a place to endorse their work. It’s a level playing field – a moderately sized ecommerce player like Lake Champlain Chocolates has the same status as a giant like Dell – and these pages are easy to start and maintain. Be sure your website makes it easy for customers to visit your LinkedIn company page.

Repurpose. If potential customers discover you on LinkedIn, it’s an opportunity to showcase your offerings and your expertise to a new audience. Think about what content works on your site and how it might fit in on LinkedIn. Anything from job listings to instructional videos can work. Frequent updates can keep customers engaged.

Think two-way. LinkedIn is a social network, not a one-way billboard. Ask questions of your customers on your company page, run polls or surveys, answer questions quickly and usefully.

Show your expertise – and gain from others’. LinkedIn is full of questions and answers, and the ecommerce section can be lively and helpful. You can establish yourself as an expert if you’re a reliable answerer of questions, or you can use these forums to get good solutions to problems relatively quickly. The site is also full of people who label themselves as ecommerce experts, although you’ll want to check answers and references and decide for yourself. And, finally, even if you’re not looking for an answer (or to answer someone else’s question) right now, it’s good to be around people facing similar issues; the professional group for ecommerce professionals has nearly 75,000 members.

By: Jimmy Guterman
Jimmy Guterman is president of The Vineyard Group; previously he was senior editor of Harvard Business Review.