Earlier this year LinkedIn proudly announced that it had broken the 500,000th user barrier, but we haven't heard much else from them since.
Mashable calls it the ‘quiet giant’ of social media. Business owners fawn over it. But is LinkedIn paying enough attention to its audience?
LinkedIn updates fly under the radar
In comparison to Facebook, whose regular new features are communicated well to its users and widely reported by the media, LinkedIn updates are more commonly discovered only by surprise.
Mashable Tech has a dedicated portal for each social media site but whilst their most recent Facebook blog was a matter of hours ago, their LinkedIn section hasn’t been updated in four months and even that was more of a puff piece. LinkedIn hasn’t even updated the “our story” section of their website since 2014, despite completely redesigning the site, reaching their 500,000th member, and having been purchased by Microsoft since then.
So what did Microsoft see in LinkedIn?
Microsoft has long had a reputation for not being particularly innovative, for ignoring tech upstarts and for not partnering well with others. They used to partner with Facebook so it’s interesting to look at this new relationship with a smaller social channel.
LinkedIn has always been a networking site aimed at professional users, whereas Facebook was initially designed for individuals and then later monetised for businesses. Facebook however now has 2bn monthly active users compared to LinkedIn’s 106m because the average LinkedIn user logs in to use the site only when they are job seeking and updates their profile only as often as the average person updates their CV.
The only true daily users of the site are those who have a business to promote or work in recruitment.
However, smaller does not mean the site will be less influential for Microsoft. The company invested in LinkedIn because of the site’s connection to Reid Hoffman, whose relationships in Silicon Valley could seriously aid Microsoft in their reinvention as a more connected, innovative company. Reid Hoffman helped start up both LinkedIn and Facebook, and so it all comes full circle.
Are you there LinkedIn, it’s us, your users?
Often, LinkedIn can feel like an unsupervised playground where egos thrive and the popular kids hold court. LinkedIn is rich with company page features for business users but there is no buzz about them which, in turn, doesn’t create the sense of community that Facebook users experience over adopting new features and post styles.
Microsoft has begun to make improvements to LinkedIn’s interface and to change the annoying and often irrelevant prompt-culture of generating endorsements or congratulating an old contact on a new job with a generic message. LinkedIn just doesn’t seem to pay attention to what business users really want and it is this which has prevented the platform from achieving Facebook-level success. Prompting users for data is not the way to achieve true user engagement.
Outside of recruitment, is LinkedIn still worth the effort?
The potential is definitely there. What is critical for LinkedIn if they want to succeed in this space is to be able to compete with Facebook’s superior targeting for advertising purposes. LinkedIn holds a lot of powerful data about its users but it does not yet demonstrate the ability to pinpoint what data is relevant for advertising outside of recruitment. LinkedIn advertising is also currently much more costly than Facebook despite these limitations.
Tell us what you think of LinkedIn – do you love it, loathe it or recognise it as a necessary evil?
Lianne Marie is a Digital Marketing specialist here at InFusion and loves all things Social Media. She still can’t decide what to use for her LinkedIn cover image.