LinkedIn is at a tipping point.
(View more pictures from the bell ringing ceremony taken at the New York Stock Exchange, the day LNKD started trading – May 19, 2011.)
After becoming the first social network to go public on May 19, 2011, LinkedIn is now in the hot seat as finance pundits examine whether the company’s market valuation is realistic. One major question that investors have about LinkedIn is: “How can Linkedin grow?
Here is a brief analyis.
According to Experian Hitwise, LinkedIn saw only about 0.51% of all site visits to social networks in December 2010. Even though LinkedIn boasts that it has 100 million members worldwide, a cold, hard fact is that only around 25 million US internet users visit the site each month, according to comScore reports.
It is not a secret who get the lion’s share of the social media action.
While some people may argue that it is not a big deal that Facebook has more unique visitors than LinkedIn, they cannot deny these this 2 facts:
1. The market valuation from LinkedIn can only be sustained by a positive expectation for growth: more and more users. One main factor for opening and maintaining a LinkedIn profile is that HR professionals will find you through there. A summer 2009 survey conducted by Harris Interactive for CareerBuilder.com indicates that 47% of U.S. HR professionals use Google to search for the names of their job candidates. 29% of U.S. HR professionals use Facebook and only 26% use LinkedIn. So, technically you would be better off by creating your own personal website and making your Facebook unavailable to public searches.
2. LinkedIn users don’t spend much time on the platform. According to a 2009 report from comScore, visitors spent about 13 minutes on average at LinkedIn during October 2009, while Facebook users logged about 213 minutes. A common observation from LinkedIn users is that is mostly social media marketers, the ones avidly joining and posting to groups.
Where is the Growth for LinkedIn?
Given that business men and investors alike continue to focus on Brazil, Russia, India and China (known as BRIC), LinkedIn is in the right track to expand its member base in these countries. eMarketer reports that in March 2011, leading up to the eighth anniversary of its launch, LinkedIn released updated statistics about the site and its usage. The data showed that India is the largest source of members outside the US, with 9 million members, followed by Brazil and Canada, both at 3 million. Brazil is the fastest-growing source country of new users, with 428% year-over-year growth in membership in 2010.
Ignite provided an update from the top regions for Linkedin for all of 2010.
More importantly, LinkedIn needs to continue to fuel its main source of time-on-site: groups.
To maintain its market valuation, Linkedin needs to provide proof that it can have sustainable growth and activity in the BRIC region.