At the time of this blog being written, LinkedIn is the number one professional network. It is home to around 116 million users, a number which continues to climb. Its profits have risen and its stock remains buoyant. It operates within its own niche, tactically deciding to avoid competing against the social network powerhouse that is Facebook. It seems to be doing everything right, so why is there the feeling that this may change in the future?
Well, there has been a lot of debate recently surrounding the battle for social dominance. Facebook, the current King of the social networks, is now not looking so comfortable on its throne. As I have discussed in previous posts, Google+ is on the rise and poised to take that crown. But what’s this got to do with LinkedIn?
It is clear that Facebook itself has purposefully avoided targeting the professional crowd and Google+ has only just begun its exploits in the world of “social business,” and it certainly hasn’t outlined plans to target professionals from the get go. But as the struggle for dominance grows it is becoming clear that the only way to win/succeed will be to offer new, and better, features for users.
Unfortunately for LinkedIn, the job market and the professional crowd seem the perfect area for Facebook and/or Google to expand into. With these two internet giants entering into this niche, and therefore directly competing with LinkedIn, it spells trouble for the current, almost unchallenged, professional network. Now, I’m not suggesting that this is going to happen right away, but what must be underlined is that it really is a question of “when” rather than “if”. It is a natural progression for both Google and Facebook and it’s one of the key strategies to keep the competition alive. But can we just write off LinkedIn?
Well, a lot of people are. LinkedIn has experienced a barrage of criticism recently and there have been a number of hints at its potential downfall. The “problem” associated with LinkedIn is that it’s boring. There’s no sex appeal and a clear lack of imagination in its creative team. Although it does have an impressive user-base, the number of unique visitors is much lower and many current users have admitted to ignoring the site. So does this mean that LinkedIn is heading for a fall?
Well, not necessarily.
Yes, LinkedIn isn’t the sexiest social site and it’s not one that constantly updates and adds new features to enthrall its user-base, but it never wanted to or said it was going to.
LinkedIn is the professional network.
I would happily bet that an overwhelming majority of LinkedIn users also have a Facebook profile. This is simply because they want to separate their personal and professional lives, and this seems the general consensus amongst my colleagues and my friends. LinkedIn has been described as social media with no buzz and no sex appeal. For example: Facebook can get you friends, Twitter and YouTube can make you famous but LinkedIn is unexciting and unstylish.
Whilst I do agree that it could use a “sprucing up” I also feel it’s important to stress that it isn’t a site with no buzz. The buzz, or appeal, of LinkedIn is that it can get you a job or get you more business. So do I think it’s just going to disappear whilst Facebook and Google take the reins?
In a word, no. LinkedIn isn’t going to just disappear any time soon. It has a loyal (and growing) user base and remains the preferred professional network. LinkedIn’s critics say its downfall will be a result of its lack of sex appeal, but what they don’t seem to have recognized is that the LinkedIn user-base don’t want sexy, they want professional. The young users want jobs and the older executives want to generate business. That said, Facebook and/or Google are sure to start targeting the professional crowd in the coming months and they will be prepared to fight for market share. What is certain is that it promises to be an interesting future for social business. But if you remember one thing, let it be that LinkedIn will not go down without a fight.