I recently read that the introduction of Facebook’s jobs could kill LinkedIn momentum. The introduction of Facebook Jobs in the coming month(s) will probably come as little surprise to those who have been closely watching developments on Facebook. Facebook made its profiles more professional not too long ago, making positions and experience more prominent in terms the layout and format.
Connection between Mission, Operations and Activities
Facebook’s mission is to make the world more open and connected. LinkedIn seeks to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. It’s quite easy to tie LinkedIn products and services (both individual and enterprise) to its activities on the ground. LinkedIn continues to innovate and improve (Slideshare Acquisition, Corporate Solutions, LinkedIn Recruiter, Company updates, Targeted audience, Mobile Apps etc). However, the connection for Facebook between its activities (sponsored stories or newsfeeds, Jobs, camera, Instagram) and mission seems more tenuous. Facebook is moving from what it was really good at, personal networking into an unproven bundle of personal and business networking. Compare Apple vs Google product approaches. Quality trumps Quantity I believe.
Personal and Professional networking, Oil and water mix?
For Facebook jobs to be successful I believe that the company will need to ultimately convince its users that its fine and perfectly acceptable to mix business with pleasure. This is not an easy sell even as the lines between personal and professional worlds continue to blur. There was an outcry recently over moves by employers to check Facebook accounts of potential employees. Facebook is basically re-introducing this risk magnified.
Tools to manage security, segregate information
As things stand Facebook does not have the tools to adequately manage privacy and security around the site or least to give everyone complete assurance around the issues. Adding jobs into the equation only seems to compound the risk. Any unintended leakage of personal info into the professional space, and professional info into personal space, could meet with disastrous results. Can Facebook give adequate assurances that this will not happen with the myriad of Apps on the site?
Increasing complexity, decreased utility for users
Facebook was a big draw initially because it was so simple. As its direction changes, it risks confusing users over its main focus. The continual tinkering on Facebook is possibly an indication that the business model is not solid enough. Facebook has already shown us that numbers and time spent on the site do not guarantee continued upward growth. I think Facebook needs to clean up on the site if Facebook jobs are going to be a big hit.
Time spent on the site
As Facebook makes all these changes to its site it’s also playing around with one critical metric that impacts directly on its profitability, time spent on the site. Do users want to discuss both work and family on the same site? It would be interesting to track the trend in time spent on the site over the months.
LinkedIn remains Focussed
Against this background of a changing Facebook, LinkedIn has been speeding ahead, resolute and focussed on business networking for professionals. There is no chance that LinkedIn will veer into personal networking. Facebook could even be doing some free advertising for Professional Networking by shifting its attention to this area. Through its efforts, more people will come to know about LinkedIn and probably try it out.
Uncertain times for Facebook Job Apps
I believe the real risk from Facebook’s development is to its own Apps like BranchOut which are now really at its mercy depending on its direction. Facebook is now cannibalizing on BranchOut customers. It’s still early days but it will be interesting to see how all these developments pan out. In any case BranchOut growth has been slowing and hopefully these latest developments will not sound the death knell for it.
I believe that to counter the latest developments at Facebook, LinkedIn should just continue to do what its been doing. Growing, Innovating and delivering value to professionals and corporates.