During a recent bomb scare episode at work, all of us congregated at a ‘safe’ location. The discussion turned to social networks as folks started scoping out folks who weren’t on their preferred network. Everyone was on LinkedIn but one person stated quite matter-of-fact and many others concurred that LinkedIn is irrelevant, FaceBook is where it’s at.
There’s no doubt, LinkedIn is still the Big Kahuna in the online professional networking realm, but social networks like FaceBook, MySpace are giving it a run for its money when it comes to visitor engagement. The main engaging factor on LinkedIn is the ‘Answers’ (Brilliant knowledge base!) and if you’re a prolific offline network (or stalker), ability to add to your network. The "Jobs" section is a great addition but not sure what the success ratio for this vs. traditional career sites is. I am still trying to figure out how effective the "Service providers" feature is, but it looks promising.
But that being said, if you have both FaceBook and LinkedIn accounts, which one do you visit more frequently? Chances are it’s the former. Because of its open platform, FaceBook allows many fun/engaging applications including many popular widgets, which encourage repeat visits. The most LinkedIn offers is the recently introduced ability to add your pictures (yawn!).
So the challenge for LinkedIn is how to increase engagement for a site who’s primary audience is professionals? Here are some thoughts – tie up with local (OMG Offline) professional networks and partnering with entrepreneurial magazines to get some interesting content. And here’s another way, how about opening up the platform to developers?
The bottomline: LinkedIn must innovate, if it wants to give its members a compelling reason to visit the site more frequently and stay longer. If it doesn’t move fast, LinkedIn runs the risk that the popular social networks will chip away at its domain by adding content and features for professionals, who by the way are already on these social sites, albeit for fun, but that may soon change.