Episode 32. The State of LinkedIn

Show Notes

News

  • DIALaBRAIN find an innovative way to use the media section of a profile (see below)
LinkedIn schedule meeting link in profile
  • LinkedIn Mobile (iOS & Android) apps now allow you to customize your invitation message. Its not very intuitive but at least it can be done! Here is how you do it (iOS)
1, Do not click on the link in the shortlist

1, Do not click on the link in the shortlist

2, Ignore 'connect' and click on the share link in the top right corner

2, Ignore 'connect' and click on the share link in the top right corner

Write your message.

Write your message.

Credit to Viveka Von Rosen for spotting this. Unfortunately this technique is not possible on the iPad app

Advertising Update

  • Following my request last week I have found two examples of successful advertising campaigns. One was a small scale 'sponsored updates' campaign that cost £200 and achieved 25 downloads of a pdf report (I'm not sure I would be happy with that myself). The other involved a considerably greater spend of $25,000 but achieved a massive 1,761% ROI. This was a new membership campaign by the International Coach Federation in the US. The full report can be seen here

The State of LinkedIn.

Do LinkedIn have their monetization strategy right? 

In this section I talk about one article which puts a case for why LinkedIn are an attractive investment versus another piece that claims quite the opposite! 

The second article can be found here but I must warn you that to read the full piece you will be asked to sign up to a variety of things you probably don't want so here is the most interesting bit;

Fundamental weaknesses

Before I get to LinkedIn's strategic failures, let me first point out its operating woes:

LinkedIn squeezed out only 1.6% in operating profits during its last twelve months vs. 5.2% during the twelve months ended at the end of 2Q 2013. To contrast its continued decline in operating margins, Facebook has achieved operating profits of 43% during its last twelve months.

LinkedIn's Premium Subscriptions conversion rate is consistently under .4%. That means that of the 305 million users (average during the 2Q 2014), less than half of a percent convert into purchasing LinkedIn's premium products. Premium subscriptions start out at $23.99 and approach rates of as high as $99.99. Assuming that the average premium subscriber pays $40/month, the conversion rate is an abysmal .29%. If the average user pays $35, the conversion rate would be closer to .33%.

In any case, the conversion rate declines if your assumption uses a higher dollar-per-month figure, which means that ~99.7% of LinkedIn's users see no value in Premium Subscriptions (not to be confused with Job Seeker subscriptions, which fall under Talent Solutions).

LinkedIn continues to spend heavily on sales & marketing to promote its products. In addition to salaries, benefits, travel, and employee incentives, sales & marketing expenses also include the expensive "customer acquisition marketing" spend. Sales & marketing expenses are expected to decline as a percentage of revenues at a company succeeding to sell its concept. Not so at LinkedIn. It spent 34% of revenues on sales & marketing in 1H 2012, 34% in 1H 2013, and 35% in 1H 2014.

........

.....User engagement is critical for LinkedIn at this point and will translate into a significant increase in share value. Without it, LinkedIn's operating woes will continue to exacerbate. Attracting users to a website where the only realistic option is to log in, update a profile, and check out a wall of static activities is a strategic mistake. Incentivize users to participate on LinkedIn and create an innovative environment for them to target corporations!

As is, the downside risk from slowing expansion through the sales and marketing strategy is significant and could continue to affect LinkedIn's bottom line. The firm's share price at $231 is not well supported as LinkedIn's strategic weakness in engaging users will eventually translate into heavier losses.

I think this is a fascinating argument and whilst I don't think LinkedIn should incentivise connecting, I do believe that a 100% free model where engagement is incentivised and highly read articles attract payments are excellent ideas that could solve the issue of poor advertising sales.

What do you think?

Thanks for listening. As always you can get in touch by emailing me at mark@linkedinformed or even better you can leave a voicemail that can be played on the next show. Just click on the link on the right of this page.


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