Paul Hanrahan
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LinkedIn is perhaps the most stereotyped and misunderstood of all social media - here's why perceptions of this useful channel are misguided, and how you should be using it.

Thumbs or two fingers up to LinkedIn? 

I’m not on Linkedin as I’m not looking for a job… You can’t post that on LinkedIn, it’s a professional network…

Perceptions of this useful channel are extremely varied and often misguided. When you tell people what they can and can’t do on any given social media, it often serves to empower people to challenge that authority and reinvent what the channel stands for. This is especially true of LinkedIn.  

A number of years ago I found the channel to be littered with inspirational misquotes and people portraying their corporate success by lording it over everyone else with pictures of their new car or extravagant holiday.  This is no longer the case on my newsfeed, even though I’m sure these people still exist.  

In my experience, LinkedIn has helped me to build connections and relationships with a wide range of people. I’ve attended events, booked guest speakers and performers, worked on projects with people and increased traffic to our website exclusively through LinkedIn. I’ve also laughed, debated politics and been inspired by people’s personal life stories. LinkedIn is everything people are telling you it’s not and much more. Often the posts I make about my hobbies do better than the ones that are perceived as “professional”.   

Why you should use linkedin

It’s keeping the written word alive online:
Scroll through your newsfeed on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. It’s largely videos, photos, or cat GIFs, often from bigger companies or organisations  not your real, human connections. Scroll through your LinkedIn newsfeed – it’largely textbased posts from real people sharing their opinions, their skills and their knowledge.  

It’s a sharing community: 
If you post a question about some work you need help with, your contacts tend to @ and share with others. The nature of sharing and engagement on LinkedIn means your message often goes further and wider than your own network. Most people are keen to help out. 

It’s funny, it’s awarenessraising and it’s creative:
I’d never have found this post without LinkedIn. It’s funny because it’s true. Without LinkedIn, I’d never have seen the journey this guy went through as he battled depression, having already survived a suicide attempt. I’d never have found inspiration in the use of AR if I hadn’t seen this video on LinkedIn. 

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How LinkedIn has helped our organisation

For work, LinkedIn has allowed us to find content collaborators, get in touch with high-profile guest speakers at events and even sell tickets. In fact, over 30% of the social traffic to our site comes from LinkedIn.  Often this traffic is a result of people building relationships with individuals in our team, rather than through our organisation’s main channel.  

We often get asked the question: what social channels are the most appropriate for my organisation? I believe you can find your space in any channel, and LinkedIn is no different. You just need to know what you’re looking for.  

Main image credit: Linkedin Tron Party by GrierJ (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) Shared under the same licence.