Digging itself out of a hole, can LinkedIn recapture users interest?

TakeAway:  Staring obsolescence in the face, LinkedIn is holding nothing back trying to regain/solidify its relevance as a professional networking tool (and make some money in the process).  LinkedIn is even replicating some of Facebook’s strategies in order to achieve its goals.  And, LinkedIn is offering premium services for a price. 

Will these moves reinvigorate LinkedIn’s users and create urgency to use its services or will they simply provide users with a replica of a tool that they already have?

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Excerpted from WSJ, LinkedIn Wants Users to Connect More, By Scott Morrison, December 29, 2009

If LinkedIn . wants to avoid being swamped by social-networking giant Facebook it will have to convince users to log in more often they do now.

Users typically log in only a few times a month because they say the site lacks features … By contrast … users log in to Facebook every day to touch base with friends and professional contacts …

For the past year, LinkedIn has be focused on reinvigorating it six-year-old business. While it’s membership has continued to surge, reaching 53.6 million at the end of November from 31.5 million a year ago, it has been dwarfed by Facebook, which has surpassed 350 million members.

More importantly, the amount of time people devote to LinkedIn is a fraction of the time people spend on some other social sites. Visitors spent about 13 minutes on average at LinkedIn during October, while Facebook users logged about 213 minutes and MySpace users spent 87 minutes …

While Facebook doesn’t specifically target the professional market, hundreds of companies … use the site to highlight their firms and recruit new candidates …

LinkedIn recently took a page from Facebook’s playbook and opened LinkedIn’s site to third-party developers so they can create applications that will draw professional users to the site when they aren’t looking for work … [or] … target specific interest groups … Unlike Facebook, all apps must be professionally oriented …

Some analysts downplay the risk LinkedIn faces from sites like Facebook and highlight the recent growth the company has seen outside the U.S. market … the “clear delineation” between social and professional networking affords LinkedIn a fair degree of breathing room …

LinkedIn is also poised to announce a series of subscription “packages,” specially priced memberships that provide not-yet-disclosed products and services designed for job hunters, small-business owners or other groups …

Other partnerships are aimed at making LinkedIn more useful when members are working outside the network. For example, Microsoft’s upcoming version of Outlook will allow users to see people’s LinkedIn profiles when they are sending or receiving. Overlapping users will be able to sync their Outlook and LinkedIn contact lists, as well as use Outlook to expand their LinkedIn networks.

LinkedIn acknowledges that driving membership growth, while at the same time increasing the number of apps they can use to communicate with each other, poses significant challenges …

Edit by TJS

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Full Article
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704905704574622191027266548.html?mod=djemMM

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