LinkedIn is a global hub of business and career resources. The platform promises to get your message out to future partners, customers, and employees.
Unfortunately, LinkedIn no longer delivers on that promise for small business owners. If you’re struggling to make your LinkedIn marketing work, it may not be your fault.
The LinkedIn Bubble
A brief overview of how LinkedIn works: the site recommends connections that are similar to you in terms of experience, connections, education, and industry. Your LinkedIn feed is made up of content from companies, individuals, and groups you follow, sponsored posts, newsworthy items, and “recommended content”. The result is a highly curated feed of things interesting to you.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but this model fails to offer the spontaneous, organic, unexpected connections you need for business success. Remember, business success doesn’t depend on what you find interesting. It depends on your ability to sell valuable products to your customers. So why is your business networking platform centered around you and not them?
You’re missing out on all the wonderful partnerships that spring up where you least expect. If you own a seafood market, you may never think to interact with the ceramics store two streets over. But you may share similar clientele – after all, you need something to serve those fancy seafood dishes on! What works for that ceramics store might work a lot better for you than what works for a random fishmarket 10 hours away you connected with on LinkedIn.
And if you’re suffering from the LinkedIn bubble, you can imagine your marketing prospects are as well. Day in and day out they get the same, hyper-focused sales tactics rather than a fresh, authentic new perspective. If you want to be taken seriously and show how you can create value for your customers, you need to think outside the bubble.
The Problem with Connections
So how do you break out of the LinkedIn bubble?
You could message others outside your regular network, but the site will only allow you to message connections or 2nd degree connections (connections of your connections). To pitch or network with anyone outside this small sample, you’ll need to use an InMail. InMail is only available on paid accounts, which can start at more than $60/month. And of course, your InMails are limited at each tier.
Remember, LinkedIn doesn’t take geography into account. If the shop next door isn’t a 1st or 2nd degree connection, you’re stuck with InMail (assuming you’ve paid up). LinkedIn does “guarantee” the success of InMails, but this is an empty promise. Once your prospect opens your InMail – even if they later completely ignore it – you’re charged a mail credit.
You can get around these restrictions by joining groups and increasing your connections. The downside: it requires investment. Quality leads don’t want to connect with just anyone. LinkedIn is just as susceptible to spam as any other social media site, which is why InMail restrictions exist in the first place.
To gain potential customer’s trust, you’ll need content. Time-intensive, potentially resource-intensive content. Let’s say you invest in some content, and it takes off. Your business is starting to get noticed on LinkedIn. All the groups want you and the connections are flowing in. It’s a nice ego boost, but what is this content actually doing for you? Is it generating sales? Are you actually growing your business? Or are you just driving more traffic to LinkedIn?
Despite creating all that content, you’re still at square one when it comes to building profitable connections. And you’re now sifting through piles of connections with no idea how useful they will actually be. Again, there’s nothing wrong with building brand awareness and engagement through LinkedIn content. It’s just not enough.
You need a platform that’s going to take that engagement and drive further mutually beneficial relationships, both online and offline. LinkedIn wants you to keep all interactions online and on LinkedIn. And that’s just not going to work long-term.
An Alternative to LinkedIn Marketing
LinkedIn marketing doesn’t work for small business owners because LinkedIn itself isn’t designed with small business owners in mind. If you’re trying to grow your business, stop investing your time and resources in a platform that will never make you a priority.
Of course, every business is different. If LinkedIn marketing is getting you results, that’s great. But if not, it’s time to consider other options. Alignable is a platform that is 100% for small business owners like yourself. It’s free to use and makes it easy to connect and exchange referrals with other local business owners. And local really means local – as targeted as the other businesses on your exact street.If you’re ready for a fresh perspective, join Alignable today – the LinkedIn bubble won’t miss you.
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