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LinkedIn is a professional networking site whose users are primarily white collar professions with a reported average income well above USD 100k per annum. Linkedin now has more than 277 million users (as of March 2013) and is an excellent tool for professional recruitment, creating peer to peer professional interest groups and is the recommended platform for CEO's that want to maintain a professional social networking presence.

The figures show that a full 2/3rds of LinkedIn users are located outside of the United States and growth has been fastest in countries like India, which is quickly approaching 25 million users.

LinkedIn has a balanced business model with almost equal amounts of revenue from its premium users (users that pay for added benefits), advertising sales and from its professional jobs postings. In particular, as the LinkedIn user base grows and there is a greater ability to identify customized customer segments, the value of LinkedIn as a professional career tool becomes compelling for both users and employers.

One of the most common questions I get from the organizations I work with when developing a social media strategy is to understand the difference between Facebook and LinkedIn as a tool to grow a community or to identify potential networking contacts.

The biggest difference in my opinion is that LinkedIn is being used primarily for professional networking and business purposes. Companies and organizations are looking for professionals, and professionals are looking for colleagues or new business opportunities. That is not the case with Facebook users who primarily use the platform to connect with existing private, social contacts that they already know.

What is the future for LinkedIn?

LinkedIn has made a number of changes to its platform recently, in particular, when it changed the way LinkedIn groups and group discussions are viewed and managed. Although not all of the changes have been universally accepted, they are intended to make the user experience more engaging. When asked what the future looks like for users on LinkedIn, Mallabo replied that it includes “an increased ability to communicate with any member at anytime” either from within your contacts or from within one of the groups a user belongs to. The focus is to make communications more fluid within LinkedIn groups, something that currently does not happen as well as it should.

As the global community of LinkedIn users continues to grow and as long as the profile of the typical LinkedIn user continues to be the “white collar professional”, more and more companies will realize the benefit of using LinkedIn within the enterprise as a human resource and business tool. Not just for recruitment purposes but for employee engagement and knowledge management within the staff teams.

Likewise, LinkedIn is increasingly used as a business intelligence tool by marketing and sales teams to identify and engage with prospects and clients. 

LinkedIn has clearly established itself as the professional’s networking platform of choice and its growth world-wide makes it an invaluable tool for organizations looking to expand globally.