Umair Haque / Bubblegeneration
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Design principles for 21st century companies, markets, and economies. Foreword by Gary Hamel. Coming January 4th. Pre-order at Amazon.

Monday, April 24, 2006

LinkedIn is the new Friendster

Not to put too fine a point on it. But I have to say: LinkedIn sucks.

Once a month, I log in to accept invitations. Like I did today. Occasionally, I try and do something meaningful - update my profile, interact, etc.

The problem is - I can't do anything. Even editing my profile is narrowly restricted to a tiny universe of what LinkedIn would like - not what I would.

Having spent a fair bit of time analysing social media, it's pretty clear to em that LinkedIn is going sideways because it's making almost exactly the same mistakes Friendster made.

Briefly, LinkedIn has done a perfect job at limiting interaction to such a narrow subset of the possible, nothing happens. That's why there's such little interaction on LinkedIn, beyond the meaningless exchange of "connections". There's a lot more to it than that, but that's the core of the manifold problems.

Guys, you can do so much better. LinkedIn is such a great idea. But you really need to rethink your social value proposition, how it's delivered, and how it scales (hint: you don't have one at the moment). You are creating little value, and your market window is closing fast.

-- umair // 9:15 PM // 10 comments


Isn't LinkedIn the only social network that's currently profitable?
// Anonymous Anonymous // 10:36 PM

linkedin is bubble.

profitability is not the question here, it's scalability.
// Anonymous Anonymous // 6:54 AM

There is one value I find in LinkedIn. It's a way to keep track of contact details for casual business acquaintances I might otherwise loose. I'm not super-diligent about this, but I do accept connections from anyone I've met or corresponded with who I think I might want to contact someday.

Otherwise, I agree.
// Blogger Unknown // 2:00 PM

I would be interested to hear what would be your "social value proposition"

Or others, would you comment on this? What would you really like?
// Anonymous Anonymous // 3:27 PM

Hi Guys,

Paik is right - LinkedIn is going sideways. It is buying marginal profitability at the expense of scale.


That's exactly right - now imagine if LinkedIn (like MySpace) fueled interaction there instead of just acted as a warehouse. That would be radical value creation.


That's what people pay me exorbitant amounts of $$ for :)

But broadly, a social value prop means having a context for interaction. There isn't one on LinkedIn.

Thx for the comments guys.
// Blogger umair // 3:31 PM

Linkedin offers no real benefits. Yes, more interaction is the best way to go, but none of these sites allow much of that, and it would be so easy.

If it is true as Jon said that Linkedin is profitable this may be part of the problem. I think they have become lazy. In a sense they are profiting from a very narrow and cynical human need, let's call it "network envy"... i.e. "Gee, he's got more contacts than me, I better go and annoy some more people who hardly know me" - I recently got approached to join the network of a guy who knows I absolutely cannot stand him. The shameless networkers of Linkedin... I think they are ultimatley a big problem for the Linkedin Brand.
// Blogger Simon E // 4:40 PM

What about openBC?
// Blogger Dimitar Vesselinov // 2:10 PM

One real value of LinkedIn is as a recruitment/job seeking tool. Beats the heck out of Monster or HotJobs, and that's not even factoring in the dramatic price differential. I run a retained executive search firm, and it has consistently been one of our best sourcing tools (the endorsements are a complete waste of space, though).
// Anonymous Anonymous // 4:47 PM

Hi Umair,

I'm not sure what exactly you're referring to, but as a free user of LinkedIn, I've never had any problem with editing my profile. Which aspects of the profile are inaccessible to you?

I also don't understand what exactly you mean by fueling interaction. Also, I don't agree with the MySpace comparison, primarily, because LinkedIn caters to a different and much more influential demographic. To me it's a great tool to manage the numerous contacts I make while networking at events and sorting the contacts I find through my blog. It's also a great way to stay in touch with former colleagues. Apart from that, I've won new business, found prospective jobs, used it as a great lead generation/qualification tool, etc..., although I currently am not in business development.

It definitely is an interesting topic and I'd love to hear more comments on it. Thanks for starting the conversation.
// Anonymous Anonymous // 6:57 AM

I'd have to disagree pretty significantly with the original post. LinkedIn has been growing slowly but substantially and has built a very valuable asset that presents it with a lot of different opportunities. It's one of the few .com companies started in the past 5 years or so to have created real, lasting value. I'd suggest they substantially stay the course.
// Anonymous Anonymous // 9:53 PM
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