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Thursday
Jul152010

An interview with Jose Mallabo, Director, International Corporate Communications for LinkedIn

In a recent exclusive interview with Jose Mallabo, we discussed the current international footprint of LinkedIn and where the company is headed.

“Content is everything” stated Mallabo as we began our conversation. LinkedIn is squarely focused on the “white collar professional” and providing the best platform for professional networking and career advancement. LinkedIn’s growth internationally has been entirely demand led by its growing international subscriber members. The company has not engaged in proactive marketing outside the US, preferring to follow where the natural demand is strongest.

The company has recently opened offices in Amsterdam, Dublin, Toronto, Sydney and Mumbai to better serve the growing communities of professionals and the companies that are using LinkedIn as a business tool. Mallabo estimates that according to the International Labor (Labour) Organization (ILO) definitions, there are a potential 500 million white collar professionals world-wide that might become LinkedIn users. To date, LinkedIn has penetrated just over 13% of that potential market.

Although LinkedIn itself does not provide a country by country breakdown of member statistics, Mr. Vincenzo Consenza who is a Director for Digital PR at Hill & Knowlton in Rome, Italy and who is a former Microsoft employee, developed a map of LinkedIn members based on the demographic information supplied by LinkedIn’s “Direct Ads” profiling tool.

The figures show that a full 51% of LinkedIn users are located outside of the United States and growth has been fastest in countries like India, which is quickly approaching 6 million users.

Source:  http://www.vincos.it/the-state-of-linkedin/

Mallabo and I also talked about the “freemium” business model that is so popular today, where members may join a service like LinkedIn for free but are offered premium services for a fee. When you look at sites like Facebook, YouTube or Twitter whose free to join, advertising supported business models are coming under increasing pressure to drive revenues, it is interesting to see who has the sustainable model.

Mallabo responded that 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 the 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 according to Mallabo is that LinkedIn is being used for professional networking 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.

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.

For more information about social media or international growth strategies, you can request free information, white papers and survey reports.