Start-ups look set to benefit further from professional online network LinkedIn, which now enables businesses to promote their products and services and capitalise on referrals.
LinkedIn has renamed its company profiles as company pages, adding a section for members to showcase their products and services, and post videos.
It also allows members to seek referrals from their followers as an additional form of favourable publicity.
Referrals already in a viewer’s contact database appear first, contributing to the level of credibility.
Launched in 2003, LinkedIn is a business-to-business platform with around 80 million members, providing a professional contact database for individuals and recruitment companies.
LinkedIn has automatically migrated one million existing company profiles to the new format, but the onus is on businesses to take advantage of the new tools.
According to Cliff Rosenberg, managing director of LinkedIn Australia and New Zealand, LinkedIn is promoting the company pages to small businesses as an alternative to building a traditional website.
Rosenberg says the company pages are ideal for businesses that are yet to determine their web strategy as it allows them to gain much-needed publicity at no cost.
“It offers companies the opportunity to have a profile on LinkedIn which includes career opportunities, a description of the company and LinkedIn stats on the company [in addition to promoting products and services],” Rosenberg says.
“It’s also free of charge so, for a small business in the early stages of forming a web strategy, it may very well suffice as their website, but then of course it may also work alongside [their] existing websites.”
Rosenberg says the best feature of the site is the focus on recommendations, which he describes as “gold” for a small business.
“When we saw how well recommendations were working [on personal profiles], we transitioned it to companies,” Rosenberg says.
“It obviously adds a lot of value because the comments are not just from anonymous people but are attached to real profiles.”
“A trusted recommendation is the best form of advertising any company could have.”