Over the past few months I have seen Facebook based apps/platforms (BranchOut, Talent.me, Monster’s BeKnown to name the ones I have signed up for and been using/testing) being touted as serious competition to LinkedIn.
The core reasons these and other Facebook-based services are being given a good chance of success against LinkedIn is not their technology prowess or unique business-commercial model; rather they are positively viewed by pundits due to the fact that they are hosted on Facebook, the largest social network at 750 million users (plus).
It is certainly possible that these FB-based systems do have great systems or unique value propositions for its users. These however seem to only come second to the “fishing on the biggest pond” advantage.
There are a number of reasons as to why I am sceptic as to this argument. Mainly, I am reminded of how China was viewed as a market a decade (or perhaps more) ago. I clearly recall many sales, marketing and business development presentations introducing China as a market with 1.3 billion “consumers” (which is as you know their entire population, more or less).
Closer inspection, of course, showed the fallacy of counting every Chinese national as a consumer without recognising their purchasing power, whether they lived in rural areas, etc. The rise of the middle class in China is certainly bridging the gap but it is still necessary to look deeper to understand they real size of the market for specific products or services.
The Chinese Market (size) fallacy reminds me of the volume advantage of the Facebook-based applications better-than-LinkedIn chances of succeeding. Even if these platforms were to grow large, recruiters know well that volume does not automatically imply quality (which drives candidate place-ability).
I am certainly not prepared to write off LinkedIn on the basis on the volumes argument. I’d love for other companies to continue innovating and making it easier for people to find jobs and for recruitment professionals to add more value to their employers/customers. I think this battle will be fought on the basis of benefits and value. I certainly hope so.
With Google, I found like I never had before
With Blogger, I published like I never had before;
With LinkedIn, I networked like I had never before;
With Twitter I discovered like I never had before;
With Facebook I played like I never had before;
I am not sure what I am doing on G+ yet…
I posted more or less the same lines to G+ a few weeks back; fact is I am not using it regularly and there is no immediate or apparent reason to go to it in a hurry.
But this is not about Plus; it’s about me reaching 1000 connections on LinkedIn which, as you well know, has no intrinsic value. It is also about a couple of articles on the rise of LinkedIn and its impact on human/real connections:
- Rick Bookstaber’s “Ultimately LinkedIn Will Make Your ‘Weak Links’ Less Valuable”
- “The continuing devaluation of LinkedIn connections” by Ross Dawson
These pieces are not comparable straight away in as much as they are not addressing the same issue. Bookstaber’s post centers around network theory and how weak links need to remain ‘weak’ in order for societies to flourish and develop (whilst LinkedIn might be doing totally the opposite).
Ross’ article is about the bastardisation of the LinkedIn connection as more “strangers” approach you to link-in simply because -as per the system’s features- this is the only way to get in contact with a member. As a contrast, he references Facebook, where strangers can message you and you can “sus-out” people without a prior connection commitment.
The point of convergence for the articles was reaching the 1K connections mark, which prompted me to reflect on what happened to my way of doing business since joining LinkedIn. Some insights and personal experiences follow:
- I think I have done well in not connecting with every man and his dog just for the sake of increasing reach. Weak first degree connections that have no opportunity to strengthen are very much like those conference attendees whose business cards we hoard but whose face or pitch you cannot recall. You cannot help them and they cannot help you.
- Strong first degree connections off the system as well as those nourished in it after the initial contact have been extremely positive for repeat business. LinkedIn has proven to be an effective CRM; then again I don’t have thousands of clients or lots of staff that demand highly coordinated relationship processes.
- Almost every new customer I signed up is (or was at the time) a second degree connection linked to a strong first degree connection. At the same time, there is a huge chunk of second degree connections which are, to-date, strangers; however, more often than not, I have enough information to work out what their business needs and priorities might be. So, you know where my marketing efforts go.
- Third degree connections is uncharted territory; every now and then, I see little archipelagos (members who I know or can connect off the system) but they are rare. LinkedIn Signal might change that, but I am not a heavy user yet.
- Throughout the five 1/2 years of going with the biz, my marketing expenditure has been negligible. You might say I could be more/really successful if I had spent money. I think that if I had decided to have marketed more, I would have done more of the same (e.g. blogging more, increased participation on Groups, more presentations, videos, etc.) which is a resource with a cost but still imply no material disbursements of dollars.
- My cold calls on LinkedIn – inMails, connection requests via Groups – have had about a 30% success rate at the most. Success here is understood as having the chance at strengthening a relationship, so that 30% is looking not too hot, is it. I don’t believe the conduit was the culprit; rather, it was my inability to sell the connection request well enough.
About 10 years ago, a recruitment ‘big-wig’ told me something along the lines of “Jorge, you will never be able to accumulate the amount of business cards I have on my Rolodex”.
I am not exactly sure how he did business, but one thing LinkedIn has enabled me to do is to check thousands of ever-changing Rolodexes of people that I am not even directly related to. My future clients, employers, colleagues, employees are – more likely than not – living right now in second degree land.
Just read the article ‘Why Facebook will destroy LinkedIn’ on ERE .
This is argued on the basis of four core reasons:
- Larger volumes of people on Facebook
- Similar demographic groups
- Recruitment tools showing up on Facebook already
- Better ‘social marketing’ at Facebook
I think the article should have been better titled ‘Why Facebook can be used as another platform to recruit’. Less attention-grabbing for sure, but perhaps more balanced.
This piece, IMHO, assumes that LinkedIn will sit on its hands and let all the wealth of profiles, companies and relationships information logged over the years go to waste. I don’t see it happening
Along these lines, the ‘Facebook is huge’ argument echoes the pitch of job boards sales reps of yesteryear selling eyeballs and traffic. Organisations never needed Unique Browsers; they always needed placeable candidates that allowed agencies to earn a fee, or corporations fill a role. Bits of functionality like LinkedIn Skills which enables self-skills-coding has the looks of a powerful offering to do things like ‘get me 15 developers with android games experience in Sydney’
Similarly, demographic similarities have to be complemented with intention of presence – I go to LinkedIn to generate leads, connect with professionals, and hopefully grown my personal brand. I go to facebook to chat to my sister in Peru, look at pictures of friends and fam, mostly.
I joined Branchout early in their life and was trying to use BeKnown. Kindly, and – this might go for Australia only – we’re at very very early and immature stages of seeing candidate attraction and retention happening on FB. I am not saying it will never happen; rather I am arguing that the social links – which can nurture professional links (e.g. I want to work at Adidas ‘cause I love the brand, and my cousing tells me training for salespeople is great) – are at this stage a huge haystack to look for needles.
I am looking forward to seeing a network, environment, app, etc. giving LinkedIn a run for its money; this will be very beneficial for the market as it will accelerate the pace of offerings. I just don’t see LinkedIn destroyed anytime soon.
Have a good rest of the week.
I was pretty sure I had not bought any virtual goods; I’d rather give a real bunch to the missus instead of getting her a one-dimensional rose on Facebook. Heck I might lose my face if I show with my byte-based present.
I caught a bit of the first day of @leweb a couple of days ago. During the time I watched it was all about games, mobile, social and payments. I won’t be surprised if that’s how it went for the rest of the sessions.
Fact is, I might be the only old-f@art not buying virtual goods. Billions of dollars have exchanged hands, and many companies have become hugely profitable off the back of these ethereal goods. And they all seem to get even stronger sale/expansion outlooks.
Thing is, I think there is a more comprehensive of virtual goods when I said I had not bought any yet.
If you think of software as a virtual good – whether it is a spreadsheet, a smartphone game, or an iTunes track – I guess this means we’re in this virtual commerce exchange for a long time now. The distinctive feature of these goods is that they have intellectual inputs that ‘impact’ the purchaser or recipient. The problem with my earlier definition was that I did not see intellectual inputs on electronic cows (which are totally different to electric sheep, but I digress).
Hopefully, you have agreed with this revised definition of virtual goods and with the fact that you and I have been supporting this economy for yonks. Let me put something else on top of that:
Physical goods – computers, jeans, coffee – have virtual goods in their make up that appeases or satisfy us emotionally, over and above the fact that the computer is fast, that those jeans hold your butt beautifully, or that the coffee is going to wake you up.
I put to you that those virtual goods are encapsulated in what we call ‘brand’. The implicit assumption is that, perhaps over time, you can find the physical features of branded (and great) goods in other white label products. Manufacturing technology, design progress and Japan seem to indicate this is rather plausible.
That was a bit of a long road to assert that the virtual elements of your product/service have the potential to be the source of customer engagement with them.
Where are our virtual goods in recruitment? How do agencies and hiring organisations build in virtual goods that make clients and job seekers react emotionally in their favour?
I guess as an industry we don’t invest sufficiently in these virtual goods. It might be worthwhile considering investing in them as these could be a tangible part of what you call your differentiators.
What will it take for you to consider investment in your virtual goods? Money? Better understanding?
If you leave an insightful comment I will send you recommendation to be an honorary member of Pet Society.
Have a good weekend
In the industrial era, Big money was spent on Big research that spawned Big products; the early adopters for such wares (planes, guns, mainframes) were either governments or well-funded, large corporations. Subsequent to that, mass-production-driven economies of scale allowed for diminishing marginal production costs through automation, cheaper labour, amortisation of R&D expenditure. The consumerisation of products was the result of its massification.
In the post-industrial period, comparatively small investments of time and money are dedicated to launch new tools and services that are firstly thrown into the hands of individual users, generally for little or no money. When this offering reaches or gets close to the proverbial tipping point, corporations and governments start to pay attention. Consumerisation effectively acts as a huge proof of concept.
The first example that comes to mind is ICQ; it supposedly started with pimply kids flirting and talking about music, right? Next thing, intranet based IM applications are vanilla services in business. Same for P2P, even email if you want to go that far back. The music discussions and flirting (may be) are gone but the design stayed.
So, next time you feel like rolling your eyes when someone tweets what she had for breakfast, may I kindly suggest you have a Stella, relax and reflect that in all likelihood the trivial stuff (maybe) will fade away from twitter, but its infrastructure will certainly remain.
- What is the current theoretical value of 50% of career one? Any guesses?
- Sounds like this is take 2 of ‘feed the monster’ strategy (with resumes, that is) which might just put another local resume database product out there
- I guess the product and tech guys at C1 if any, are now gone / redeployed to other properties? Therefore, only local sales teams? Any local systems support people? Hope they ensure the service does not deteriorate
- Will there be a s**t fight for the revenue of the proposed offline/online product bundle
- Careermonster – or Monsterone – might go back in rankings before it gets back to number 2 or better
- The new site might be cheaper to run, therefore more profitable operation
Just as it gets to be less simple to be hired in Australia (it’s a Thursday, that’s as witty as I can be before the week’s end), Simply Hired launched this week their local Australia site – together with other English-based sites around the world.
Job search engines have received some air time a while back (not all of it great, e.g. content snatchers, blah blah), mainly via myspider.com.au, Ansearch’s jobsinoz and recruit.net (for which I did a bit of consulting back in the day).
I think their role in the ecosystem is still in the making (i.e. distribution partner to job boards? to direct employers? alternative to a niche strategy?… well we have the whole economic downturn to work it out.
I hope you are having a nice week