Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) is in a very particular position, the company has a tremendous potential coming from its more than 900 million users who engage very actively in the platform. But the company founded by Zuckerberg has still not found a convincing business model, at least not one convincing enough to justify its lofty valuation. Its next move into the jobs business may be precisely what the company needs to unlock its economic power and become a true high growth powerhouse.
The online jobs business is big and promising, LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD) made more than 50% of its revenues from that business in 2011, and the figure represented an extraordinary 156% increase in comparison to the previous year. LinkedIn has found a very intelligent strategy to monetize the power of social networks, it’s not an online CV company, it’s an online platform where people build their professional and business profile.
With more than 100 million users, it has become a contact database of enormous value. That´s a main advantage versus potential competitors like Monster Worldwide (NYSE:MWW) and Dice Holdings (NYSE: DHX). LinkedIn is a complete social network instead of a jobs board. Monster and Dice can help those in search for employment, but LinkedIn is the place where you have to be present, even if not actively looking for job opportunities.
Being much bigger and more social, Facebook has the potential to build its job search functionalities into a very successful business. For this reason, the company´s current project to build a job board, as reported by Dow Jones Newswires’s Joseph Walker, could become a tremendous boost to its shares if it succeeds in becoming a competitive alternative to LinkedIn.
Facebook has a problem though, it exposes too much personal information. Most people don´t want the pictures from that crazy party available for everyone to see: potential employers, superiors at work or business clients. People want to keep their professional profile separated from other social networking activities, and that´s one of the main reasons why LinkedIn has become a successful alternative to Facebook in job search.
But the matter of differentiating professional profiles from other activities is not technological, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) has done a terrific job with Google+ when it comes to privacy issues, making it very easy for users to keep certain information and publications available for particular circles. If people have different social circles: work, old time friends, or people who share the same sports interests, it makes sense to be able to share certain information with each circle.
Actually, Facebook has built its “lists” following the same concept as the “circles” from Google+. It is quite easy to select privacy settings in Facebook, but most users just don´t use this functionality so much. Facebook users are accustomed to assuming all their information in the social network is available to each and every contact, and that´s a big drawback when it comes to using Facebook for professional activities.
Perhaps it would be smart for Facebook to build a professional network inside its existing social network, so people would have to choose what particular information they share in their professional profile instead of having to select privacy considerations for each piece of personal information they have in Facebook. This would be an interesting way to leverage its gigantic user base, and build a job search business without forcing users to mix their personal and professional profiles.
It remains to be seen if Zuckerberg and his team can deliver an attractive proposition with the coming job board, but investors should pay close attention to this new project. It could be a great way for Facebook to transform itself from a big social network into a successful and growing company with a proven business model.
COMMENTARY: I believe that Facebook is going to have a difficult time developing a job board or separate social network for professionals within its existing platform. LinkedIn has pretty much solidified its position as the de-facto social network for professionals. Getting users to sign-on to another professional social network is just going to be too much work for users. Employers are already locked into LinkedIn, which they view as a great source for employee candidates, and their investment in LinkedIn employee recruitment tools assures they are locked into LinkedIn. Likewise, LinkedIn's value as a contact management system, locks users into the LinkedIn platform.
Facebook has become the de-facto social network for socializing, and to make it something it is not, could destroy its existing value proposition to its users, privacy violations, withstanding. Twitter has also become a strong competitor in job recruitment, with its numerous employment recruitment apps and extensive use of #hashtags. Having said this, there are just too many differences between Facebook and LinkedIn, and the following analysis shows these distinctions more clearly.
Social networking giants - Facebook vs LinkedIn for Business
When reviewing budgets and marketing spend, every business owner wants to ensure their social media marketing efforts are actually delivering results from the time (and possibly money) spent on managing your Facebook or LinkedIn Company Page. I’ll provide some statistics to help you understand the benefits of these social networking giants and then give my top tips for marketing your business to current and potential customers.
You can get to know these big friendly giants by clicking on the image below:
So now we know more about our giants, let me highlight some of the positives of having Company Pages for your business.
Top 5 benefits of Facebook for Businesses
- Size matters: The sheer scale of Facebook means you can potentially reach half the population of Ireland with minimal cost.
- Like me, buy me: Everyone who ‘likes’ your page is already a willing participant. When you post content, you are engaging with people who want to hear about your company - half the battle of turning them into actual customers is won!
- Spiraling into viral: You can feature special offers and events to all your fans instantly, encourage them to ‘share’ your post and enabling your content to go viral.
- Targeted adverts: Facebook advertising enables you to easily target specific customers and you can determine how much you want to spend in advance.
- Mine & refine: Facebook’s Page insights allow you to data mine and find out who your customers are, what day of the week they visit and which posts they find most engaging - all of this information can help inform your strategy, refine your content and grow future traffic.
Top 5 benefits of LinkedIn for Businesses
- Focus: Its all about business, all the time. Its a fast growing professional networking site in Ireland; with business people going there to network with other business people, to learn more about their chosen industry and to promote their company’s services.
- Best for lead generation: A Hubspot study found that traffic from LinkedIn generated the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate at 2.74%, almost 3 times that of Facebook (0.77%) and Twitter (0.69%).
- Gain knowledge: There are over a million groups where you can connect with similar businesses, get relevant industry updates, share your content, develop business ideas, form partnerships and get feedback.
- Recommendations: You can promote your Company (and yourself!) by getting testimonials from previous clients and sharing this with potential customers. Endorsements like this are trusted more than advertising and it's a powerful way to showcase the services you offer when targeting new markets.
- Build a winning team: LinkedIn is great for recruiting skilled staff, you can post jobs and accept applications on your Company Page. You can also talent spot: search and view people’s profiles if you want to do some headhunting!
Facebook vs LinkedIn for Business
There are countless websites, books and newspaper column inches dedicated to telling you how to do things including information from the social networks themselves. Here are my steps to success:
Facebook - Top tips for getting your Page ready for business:
- Brand = Beautiful: Ensure the design of your cover image is attractive, in line with yourbranding and follows Facebook’s rules.
- Custom for your Customers:Search and install free apps to provide additional contact information, showcase your services and to build your email newsletter database via the new Custom tabs feature.
- Be ‘Funtastic’: Provide interesting and engaging content - use photos and graphics and remember that people are there to socialise. Your posts need to delight and inspire your fans rather than constantly giving the ‘hard sell’. Develop messages with a sense of humour and make it fun for you and your fans!
- Get curious like furious: Ask a question / ask for recommendations - stimulate interaction and watch your engagement rate grow as the comments, shares and likes roll in!
- ‘Like’ Dara Creative on Facebook: We regularly update our page with useful information and links which you can apply to your own page. (Make sure to enter ourcompetition whilst you're there too!)
- Keep learning: Come along to our Facebook for Business Workshop and learn even more of the skills you need to develop creative content and turn fans into customers
LinkedIn - Top tips for getting your Page ready for business:
- Custom for your Customers: This is true for LinkedIn as well as Facebook. Include details of your services and products on your Company page and make it customer focussed - ensure that anyone visiting your Company page understands what you offer and give them a reason to ‘follow’.
- Build your ‘Cred’: Ask for recommendations from previous customers. Credible testimonials will showcase your great work and have more importance: 78% of consumers trust a recommendation, only 14% trust advertisements.
- Help Followers Find you - Make it easy to find and follow your LinkedIn Company Page:
- Include a link in your email signature (extra tip: a free tool like Wisestamp is ideal for this)
- Add a ‘Follow Company’ button to your website - continue to build followers by letting visitors to your website connect to you on LinkedIn. Here’s how to get the code your developer needs to put the button on your website.
- Two-way traffic system: Add a link to your blog and use LinkedIn as a way to drive traffic to your website and keep your followers up to date.
- Post regular updates! The most obvious but often forgotten tip! Give something back to your followers, post useful news and information about things happening in your industry as well your own company updates, job postings and events. Monitor any replies and thank people for their comments and shares.
- The great debate: Join groups and get involved in discussions, you can subtly lead people back to your company page to keep increasing those follower numbers.
- Follow Dara Creative on LinkedIn: Let’s build our network of followers together!