LinkedIn getting wary of the FB virus?

Facebook has been the most talked about social network in recent times. Be it for the latest Facebook app or the rumors of acquisition, the blogosphere loves talking about Facebook. It is no surprise that LinkedIn, the leader when it comes to business networking, now has a reason to worry after Facebook launched the Career Center back in March. It is not entirely clear about how many people use Facebook for the primary purpose of business networking. But a look at the Alexa graph showing the traffic levels of the three top business network sites: Facebook, LinkedIn and Xing show that while the latter two have more or less stable userbase in the six month period, Facebook has grown exponentially since March. So, it is possible that a lot many people are indeed using Facebook for finding jobs.
Alexa traffic
Though not entirely attributable to the Facebook phenomenon, LinkedIn’s recent move to allow profile photos certainly looks like an attempt to bridge the gap between Facebook and LinkedIn. A lot of thinking definitely would have gone into it as it was a conscious decision not to allow photo displays in the first place. However, presuming from the Alexa graphs that new users are not coming to LinkedIn and rather moving to Facebook, the question that is to be asked is, ‘What’s in Facebook that is not available in LinkedIn?’

Pricing in LinkedIn
In my opinion, one biggest drawback of LinkedIn has been its exorbitant pricing. The basic membership is indeed free and that is sufficient for the common users. But however trying to monetize every new feature on LinkedIn does not augur well from a user’s point of view. For example, when LinkedIn launched a simple feature to display ‘Who clicked my profile’, the basic user was not shown more than 5 recent visitors. This is not a feature to be monetized. It is better to only display 5 visitors to any user, free or premium, than asking the user to pay $20 a month to view another 5!

Will bridging LI close to FB solve the problem?
As I said before, the move towards allowing users to post pictures need not necessarily be derived from the competiton with Facebook. But it certainly looks an inspiration. But would getting LI close to FB work? I believe this kind of a move shall fail. This is because LinkedIn has earned a reputation for itself by being a very business-like website to find business partners. It is this USP that is still helping LI be the number one recall site when it comes to business networking. Allowing profile pictures will take the sheen out of a person’s achievements and resume and over-emphasize on the appearance.

So, will complaints like ‘I was racially discriminated because of LinkedIn’ or ‘Someone created a fake profile of mine with my photo but false details’ start making news? Yes, definitely possible. LinkedIn needs to realize its strengths. Facebook is not a primary business network. So, the traffic details might not be all realistic about job seekers going the FB way. Xing might try and catch up with LinkedIn given its more affordable pricing and popularity in Europe. These are some things that LinkedIn need to analyze for proper gap-reasoning between itself and its competitors.
View Anand Srinivasan's profile on LinkedIn

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