Article first published as LinkedIn Means Business on Technorati.

how to use linkedin for small businessThere has been a lot of talk as to whether or not social media is the front runner in another inflated internet bubble waiting to burst, leaving users “virtually” friendless and clueless. Will everyone be out of the loop, with no one keeping track of daily deals, happenings or status updates? Warren Buffet confirmed this fear stating that although it’s not as big as the dot com bubble, social media is not long term by any means. However, industry trends and buyer behaviors are stating otherwise.

Facebook has proven beneficial to marketing efforts for B2C companies, but B2B marketing has struggled to find its footing on the platform. That’s where LinkedIn has emerged as the go-to medium for B2B marketers.

recent study done by BtoB Magazine, showed that when asked “Which of the following social media methods does your company currently use for your B2B marketing (i.e. not personal use)” 72% of B2B marketers said LinkedIn. After reaching more than 100 million users, LinkedIn has solidified its niche as Facebook in a business suit, and B2B companies have taken notice.

The 2011 State of Inbound Marketing (an annual report done by HubSpot, an inbound marketing software company) found that 61% of B2B marketers who participated in the survey acquired a customer through LinkedIn. The targeted and measurable aspect of inbound marketing is what makes it so attractive to smart business owners who are tired of spending money on marketing with no proof that it’s working. Former Chief Marketing Officer of McDonald’s, M. Lawrence Light said, “It no longer makes economic sense to send an advertising message to the many, in hopes of persuading the few.”

Social media from a marketing perspective changes the rules of the game. Inbound marketing is completely driven by the social aspect of the internet. By gaining permission from your target market you introduce them to your products and services, educate them and show them your value, then let them determine if it’s a good fit or not.

The “experts” are certain that social media is mostly smoke and mirrors. Maybe the social media “naysayers” don’t fall into the nine out of 10 internet users who visited a social networking site each month in 2010. This means, they probably just don’t “get” social media. They should stop the fear-mongering and recognize that social media has given access to “regular” people to determine what is share-worthy and have allowed small businesses to grow by creating a more level playing field.

While the debate if social media plays as significant a role as is perceived continues, there is no question that business owners are using it to grow their businesses, and the proof is in the data.

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