New trends are surfacing revealing that LinkedIn users are spending more time on the social network and making more use with company pages and acquiring more first level connections, according to LinkedIn’s annual user survey released this month.

As reported in Marketing Charts, this year, 36.2% of users described the social site as “extremely important” (5-out-of-5-point scale) to these efforts: growing networks, developing their business, helping them find employment. LinkedIn continues to help users with a variety of business initiatives, including:

  • Building new relationships with individuals who may influence customers (43.5% vs 45%)
  • Building new relationships with potential customers (41.5%, up from 38.5% last year)
  • Increasing branding/marketing presence in the marketplace (41.3%, up from 35.8%)
  • Generating business opportunities (26.2% vs 28.3% last year)

With regard to time spent on LinkedIn, the number of users spending at least three hours a week on the site saw an increase from 47.8% to 56.8%. Along with this, users are also getting in touch with more first level connections (45% compared to 31% last year).

Most importantly, one of the biggest changes from last year is the adoption of company pages. 57.1% of respondents said their company had a company page; last year only one third did. The top features used by respondents claimed to be:

  • Sharing status updates with company followers (59.8%)
  • Reviewing company followers (57.3%)

Additionally, with the increased usage of video, more companies are beginning to share mare videos about their products and services. Other findings:

  • More people are paying for a LinkedIn premium account (20%) compared to 15.5% last year
  • 33% are members of 1-9 groups on LinkedIn; 16.2% are members of 50 groups.
  • 7 out of 10 respondents are also using Facebook to build their company network and seek employment; 6 out of 10 are also using Twitter; 4 in 10 using Google+