Not that long ago, I used to say, “Unless you’re a sales person or a recruiter, LinkedIn sucks.” I doubt the powers-that-be were listening, but since going IPO, it sure seems like they were.
The first significant move away from being “your father’s LinkedIn” came in 2011 with the launch of LinkedIn Today, This offering “delivers the day’s top news, tailored to you based on what your connections and industry peers are reading and sharing.”
Fair enough. Aggregate some content based on shared articles within my network. It’ll be nice to finally weed through the grumpy cat memes and LeBron shares on Facebook and get right to some meat-and-potato business content.
News aggregation and original content? Check.
Early 2013, LinkedIn upgraded its company pages, complete with pretty photos, followers and tabs. (Yeah, I know this all sounds a lot like Facebook’s evolution, but stay with me.) HP hit 1 million followers in Feb. There’s even an infographic to celebrate.
Then, last week, LinkedIn acquired the popular news aggregation app Pulse.
According to the company release, it’s “completely revamped with the general professional and everyday use case in mind. … We’ve designed the new LinkedIn mobile phone app for every professional, with a richer and more engaging stream and more personalization features.”
Of course, there’s a video:
Therein lies the crux of LinkedIn’s future: It’s moving beyond the recruiting junkies and sales hounds. Though, oddly enough, it’s a great thing for this original core consumer.
A few month’s ago, I attended a recruiting roundtable where a group of headhunters were complaining about the lack of software developers on LinkedIn. “I’d guess only 40 percent of the engineers in my area even have profiles on LinkedIn,” one said.
This reality has given rise to trolling sites like Github for talent. Dare I say Facebook, with its Graph Search, may even be a better place to source certain candidates, especially with its $1-per-message pricetag compared to LinkedIn’s $10-per-message fee structure?
At a recent Facebook event where CEO Mark Zuckerberg described the aspiration for Facebook to be the world’s best “personalized newspaper,” he said:
What we’re trying to do is give everyone in the world the best personalized newspaper we can. We believe that the best personalized newspaper should have a broad diversity of content. It should have high-quality public content from world-renowned sources, and it should also have socially and locally relevant updates from family, friends, and the people around you. It should also enable you to drill into any topic that you want to discuss.
The future of the Web is a battle for time, as in who controls yours. Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn and myriad others are vying for your most precious resource. Few things demand attention like good content, so it’s no surprise they’re all getting into that game.
Can a LinkedIn-meets-CNBC video channel be far behind?
If LinkedIn can carve out its niche for providing no-filler content for everyday professionals, I think they’ll be fine. Keep improving the employment offerings and keep empowering companies, and differentiation will stay intact. It’ll still be a get-a-job and network destination.
If they stray too much into Facebook and Twitter territory, I think an opportunity opens up for someone like Indeed, who I’m sure would love to fill the void as “professional hangout.”
While LinkedIn is noticeably doing its best to become Facebook, Indeed is quietly doing its best to become LinkedIn. Weird. But, that’s a separate post.
Time to start getting comfortable pimping your stuff in 140 characters or less. With an upgrade to its marketing platform this week, Twitter is now a legitimate advertising medium for employers.
From a recent email,
Great news! Today, we announced more targeting options for your Twitter advertising. Based on your feedback, we added new features to connect you with the Twitter users most likely to be interested in your messages.
Before the upgrade, advertisers could promote specific accounts and targeted tweets. One popular tactic, for example would be to promote a tweet that might have a hashtag that would get you in front of your prospects.
Employers looking to get in front of an audience of techies, for example, might promote a tweet with #SXSW in it to be seen by conference-goers of the popular Austin gathering of geeks and influencers.
Twitter’s takin’ it to a whole other level. Here are some of the updates:
Target by interests: by @usernames and interest categories
- Target @usernames, to build an audience with similar interests to that @username’s followers.
- Choose from a wide-ranging list of 350 interest categories.
Target by device
- Tailor your content to reach users on laptops, desktops, tablets or smartphones.
Target by gender
- Target by gender when you want to reach just the guys or just the gals.
Target by location
- Worldwide, country, state or metro.
Since we’re talking about recruiting, let’s leave the target-by-gender thing alone. It’s likely not relevant unless you’re recruiting for Hooters or Chippendale’s (not that I know anything about those businesses, of course).
Interests is the most interesting. Targeting @unsernames, for instance, allows employers to get their message in front of followers of their competition, as well as their CEOs.
Interest category targeting is also complete with subcategories, which includes Careers. See screen capture below:
Targeting by location, may be the most beneficial of all for many employers, since most hiring is done in this fashion. The solution doesn’t get quite as granular as, say, Google, unfortunately. Trying to type-in a zip code, for example didn’t take.
The option to segment by device may seem irrelevant, but for employers who have a mobile-friendly career site, specifying that your ads only show-up on just iPhones, for example, should keep your costs lower, because there should be less competition for ad inventory.
As more-and-more employers move beyond traditional recruitment advertising options, Twitter has proven itself a worthy use of your time to investigate it as an alternative to job boards and even Google or Facebook.
In a unique way, Twitter brings together the best of Google advertising and social media marketing. It’s a mashup of interests and demographics, and it’s very cool.
A little creepy? Yeah, probably. But when did creepy ever get between a candidate and a career opportunity?
Facebook is in the enviable position of being able to pretty much launch anything and get it in front of a billion human beings. And over the years, they’ve done a good job at throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks.
Their most recent foray into search (a good move, in my opinion) is one such example. Others, such as deals, check-ins, chat, Poke and classifieds exist too.
I say the dabbling is over. It’s time for Facebook to get serious about jobs.
Here’s why: Facebook is losing its cool. Teens are leaving the site for cooler kids like Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. I recently presented to a group of students at Penn St. who told me Facebook is “moderately cool.” Other anecdotal evidence is even less optimistic.
It’s OK. It happens to the best of us. Fortunately, anti-cool is not a death sentence, but for a company that blossomed because of coolness, figuring out the next chapters are vital.
Most readers know Facebook acquired cool-kid Instagram last year. That good news and bad news. Good for its current popularity; bad because it too will one-day be uncool.
Facebook is putting itself in a position where it has to drop cash every so often to stay on the cutting edge. That’s a tough treadmill to run.
LinkedIn, on the other hand, is on the opposite end of the social media spectrum. Possibly cool to the buttoned-up, degree-carrying, cube-dwelling humans that walk the earth, but less so to hipsters.
Who cares? You need a job? Get your butt on LinkedIn or else it’s mom’s basement for you, buster.
In other words, LinkedIn is a utility. It’s Google, YouTube and Amazon (or at least on its way). It doesn’t care about being cool because it’s become the place for professional networking.
And that’s where Facebook needs to go. it can spin its wheels on one end of the hip meter snatching up the next Instagram, but it would be better served acquiring a major player in the employment space.
So, if Facebook isn’t seriously considering a play in the employment space that’s more than window dressing, it would do right by making a serious play for Monster. LinkedIn would be nice, but it’s probably too expensive.
Monster’s stock price and lack of acquisition interest make it ripe for bargain basement shopping. Additionally, Monster’s database is rich with employers who might have soured on Monster’s product over the year’s, but are just waiting to be reenergized around new ownership.
Lots of industry partnerships, brand awareness and roots in employment add icing to the cake. Most importantly, however, Monster potentially puts Facebook on par with LinkedIn, a network immune to the winds of cultural change.
Employment, as LinkedIn has shown, will never go out of style. Facebook needs to embrace this reality, grow-up and get boring.
If you quietly wanted to change the direction of your business and were in the recruiting space, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better time than the past few weeks. With conferences like HR Tech, LinkedIn and TRC, most pundits were enthralled with anything other than the latest pivot.
Basically, the site that made its name on Facebook’s platform is a lot less interested in a Facebook storefront. The site will still leverage Facebook Connect for its onsite data, but it sounds as though reliance directly on Facebook real estate will wane.
The good news, though, I guess, is you’ll still feel like you’re on Facebook - or at least Pinterest - while you peruse the new Branchout.
Or, dare I say, feel like you’re on LinkedIn?
The downfall of Branchout with recruiting folk has been fairly well documented. Their CEO even went on Bloomberg and talked about the challenges they were facing, which amounted to him claiming they had grown too fast to really figure out a sufficient business model.
Of course, a fair question might be whether or not they really care about building a company for employers as opposed to the higher growth potential of a consumer model that builds supporting service around the main property, similar to Facebook and LinkedIn.
However, the question of whether Branchout will justify their millions in funding and survive to see another day or whether or not this pivot will be the magic elixir they need to rock the recruiting world is probably secondary to “What is the future of social recruiting?”
By racing to 30 million users in what seemed like the blink of an eye, Branchout made Facebook’s platform look like the future of recruiting, while making LinkedIn look old and outdated in comparison. And although countless employers “manage” Fan Pages on Facebook that resemble ghost towns with few fans and activity, Branchout seemingly figured it out.
But being beholden to the whims of Facebook and hoping to maintain traction as a jobs destination where baby pics and the latest Kardashian meme rule the day, the earth moved on Branchout very quickly.
Just ask game-maker Zynga about the perils of relying on Facebook.
Social recruiting software providers like JobMagic and Work4Labs are apparently doing pretty well as B2B solutions, but Branchout’s B2C model looks like a complete dud as a Facebook-only offering. Worse, it looks eerily like Jobster’s not-so-distant cousin - a mishmash of profiles, jobs, tags, pictures and who-know-what-else around the corner?
“We have 30 million users. We have $49 million raised. We’re going for bold,” Branchout CEO Rick Marini told All Things D, who commented that “it was a tall order” to “ask users to visit a brand-new site and create novel content that fits into a personal-professional-public hybrid.”
Yep. Tall indeed.