linkedinlogoEarlier this week, social networking site LinkedIn announced the launch of a variety of new applications with the intent of making the site more engaging. I haven’t talked much about LinkedIn here because, well, until now there really hasn’t been much to say about the site.

Don’t get me wrong, LinkedIn is definitely the “go-to” networking site for working professionals and currently has a worldwide userbase topping 30 million. In fact, according to a recent study by MediaPost, the site is a hub for high-income senior executives and “savvy networkers.” It’s just that the site has always been static and unfortunately, static rarely cuts it on today’s Web. It’s a great resource for posting an online resume, sharing work experience and connecting with other like-minded professionals, but it’s suffered greatly from having any significant utility as an interactive platform.

So, how has it maintained a solid reputation and kept 30 million users around, you ask? There’s simply no competition. Plaxo is all but dead in the water. Because of its user demographics, Plaxo never quite picked up speed as an active social networking tool despite attempts to integrate interactive applications onto its site.

LinkedIn’s launch of new applications this week is intended to help boost collaboration, ease the sharing of information, assist with profile customization and gain key insights about people talking about your company. Unlike Plaxo’s move to synch in user connections with other social media sites, LinkedIn has unveiled applications mostly tailored toward their primary executive audience.

I’ve only integrated the WordPress application at this time, which serves as an auto-RSS feed, displaying my most recent blog posts on my full LinkedIn profile (apparently, it only displays on the full profile which limits viewership to my network connections). The application addition process was simple enough, but in scanning the other applications, I’m still not convinced the site’s dynamic will drastically change.

To that end, do you actually ever regularly update your LinkedIn status?

I’ll argue that the reason people don’t regularly post LinkedIn status updates is because A) the primary user base likely falls into the social technographics “joiners” category and thus are not likely to be avid content creators outside of posting basic profile information and B) the site is not designed to lend itself to active interaction and engagement along the lines of a site such as Facebook.

Do  I appreciate the site as a professional networking and B2B connection site? Absolutely. In fact, I think the recommendations and LinkedIn answers features are great.

Am I likely to visit there everyday with the intent of active engagement with other users? Highly doubtful.
I’d much rather be a tweet’n fool.

Then again, maybe that all changes when you crack six figures.


Join the conversation! 9 Comments

  1. Great post, Scott! Out of the gate, I had some techie issues with the new LinkedIn apps, but I think that they are def. a value add to LinkedIn’s offering. I’m sure that at some point, I’ll embrace the apps, but for me, the Q&A and Groups are really the meat and potatoes.

    I never update my LinkedIn status. I guess I could use something like, but since I’m on Twitter anyway out of habit, I’m not going to jump around from site to site just to update my status.

    Keep up the good work! =)

  2. Scott, I head up marketing at Plaxo, so not surprisingly take some issue with your assertion that we are “dead in the water.” On what basis are you making that? We’re nearing 25 million members and are experiencing rapid growth in monthly unique visitors and pageviews.

  3. @Beth thanks for dropping by, I agree, I’m curious to see where it goes.

    @therealmccrea “dead in the water” may of been a bit strong, but it’s been my experience based on professional network feedback that among my age range, people simply aren’t using Plaxo. Point to you all for active response though. What do you see as the primary reason someone would be drawn to use Plaxo over LinkedIn? Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Scott,

    We’ve managed to combine the utility of an online address book with a personalized news stream, with the kind of granular control over what you share with whom that folks in our target demographic seek. We’re taking off in the 30 to 50 crowd, big time. We are not trying to replace LinkedIn or Facebook — or any other existing player. We’re focused on the big opportunity ahead as the industry completes the transition from the “walled garden” model of networking to an open “Social Web,” defined by interoperability and data portability. We think there’s a great place for Plaxo as a utility for staying connected with the people you care about and on top of what they’re creating and sharing all over the Web.

    By the way, are you “friends” with your parents and other elders on Facebook? Are you looking forward to that with great enthusiasm or a little bit of dread?

    John McCrea

  5. Absolutely, I look forward to seeing how the platform develops and I will say that I enjoy the interface much, much more than LinkedIn and can see the vision you all are embracing. Nope, folks aren’t on Facebook but it has been a great channel for professional and personal connections.

  6. Scott,

    I probably spend more time on Facebook, but LinkedIN is much more valuable to me, professionally.

    And I find that the groups on LinkedIN are much, much, much more active than any group I’ve ever observed on Facebook (where people tend to join groups never to return again). And the LinkedIN Q&A is very engaging.

    I’m quite glad that LinkedIN has taken a careful approach to application development, watching the market, and learning from Facebook with apps they should NOT introduce. It would ruin the professionalism of the site if it suddenly allowed people to starting throwing sheep at each other.

    I do, however, connect with many of the same people on LinkedIN and Facebook. LinkedIN in is like visiting their office, and Facebook is like visiting them at home.

    I recently gave the Best Answer to a question about using LinkedIN for self marketing:

    In a Bear market, I’m Bullish on LinkedIN.


  7. Chris – great points all around and thanks for dropping by. That’s a great point about the utility of LinkedIn groups vs. Facebook groups and I really like the analogy of home vs. office with the two platforms.

    Folks, if you have a chance, hop over to read Chris’ answer with the link provided – some great networking tips there.

  8. […] You Should Know – John McCrea Last week, I posted about LinkedIn’s launch of a series of new applications for their site. Within my post, I referenced Plaxo and connected with John McCrea who currently […]

  9. Chris – great post with lots of good nuggets (including from all the folks in the comments section). I generally turn to LinkedIn first when reaching out to someone I’ve met, but up until recently I haven’t been all that interactive with it. I’m starting to use the groups more and have added the WP app, but have not and do not plan to use the status updates. Using an app that combines responses like the one I use for twitter / facebook would automatically add comments I don’t necessarily want in that sphere. And adding them separately for Linked In just doesn’t seem worth the time. I don’t read what other people update there, but maybe I’m the minority?


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