LinkedIn, a social network for business professionals (learn more here), last week announced a new service that allows researchers to access their database of members for research. This service provides access to business and IT professionals that are typically hard to reach through surveys, and with the extensive profiles of members, targeting specific groups will become much more efficient.

LinkedIn currently has over 30 million members across many industries and countries and this service should provide one of the best sample sources for B2B research.  Members will be able to be rewarded for participation by gift cards or charitable donations.

This continues the trend we’ve seen of using online social networks for market research.  From the large networks such as Facebook to much more niche networks, researchers are finding more efficient ways of reaching very targeted audiences.

Given the high value of LinkedIn’s members – particularly the decision makers – and hence the likely high demand to survey them, it will be interesting to see if members get burned out taking surveys and just how much incentive researchers will have to provide.  After all, how much is a six-figure professional going to require to take a survey?  As with any panel, how you manage it will be critical to its long term value.

Thanks to Social Media Portal for their post that alerted us to this.