LinkedIn aims to become most preferred social network website

Written by Anand J | Updated: Dec 26 2012, 08:50am hrs
Nasdaq-listed LinkedIn, the worlds largest professional network with 187 million members on board, aims at becoming the preferred social network by offering slew of new products like news and videos, apart from the professional connect. Deep Nishar, senior vice-president, products and user experience, LinkedIn Corp, was earlier with Google and had helped the internet giant establish the mobile platform and made the acquisition of Android, the ubiquitous mobile operating software for Google. In an interview with Anand J, Nishar talks about LinkedIn product philosophy and how it is geared to face the shift of users to mobile and tablets. Excerpts:

How do you develop a product

It is on a three-dimension plan. First is the simplified user interface. The time spent must be productive. The new revamped homepage has increased the time spent. The social activities, commenting and liking have gone up by 100%.

Second is growth not just in terms of member, but enabling career growth, for instance endorsements. We are doing now 10 million endorsements a day within few weeks of launch. In fact, for the first time a product was launched, first outside the US in Australia, New Zealand and then in India.

Third is everyday. This implies that a professional must get the key professional insight from the network, about their network and for their network on an everyday basis.

Most recently, LinkedIn thought of including leadership. Nearly 150 people holding influence across the globe like Richard Branson, Barack Obama, Kim of World Bank are writing on topics, professionally interesting and that they have a passion for. These also include CEOs of companies who finally have a forum where they can discuss things and make sure that they have the right kind of people looking at it.

For all the social networks, chat is an important element. Are you thinking on such lines

Not yet. We think about lot of such things. Many people have asked us when we would have instant messaging and chat. We are seeing communication more prevalent in the business world. We havent launched anything nor have an announcement to make at this point.

Lot of products from Google and other social networks are being adopted in LinkedIn as well, for instance, videos, news and corporate pages. What do you think

The corporate pages were launched in 2008, much before Facebook. We invented it. We did not patent it. In terms of news, our product is different from other news products. We are not telling you on marriage of Kareena and Saif. Our interest is what is happening to Kingfisher Airlines. We are only thinking in terms of business and that is what our 187 million members, rising at the rate of two every second, care about.

Will all these product launches dilute the focus from primary need of getting connected Are you adding more people than the network really needs

In India, there are 60 million professionals, according to International Labour Organisation. Worldwide, the figure is 630 million white collar professionals. If you look at all the people who work, they are 3.3 billion. We are just scratching the surface. Not all 187 million are connected to each other. They are connected to people they know professionally. It is these connections that really matter. So that is where the second degree connections come. There has been a lot of research on strong and weak connections. The second degree connections are those that end up providing you the most value and more opportunity.

Revenue outlook and advertisements on mobile and tablets: Any specific product development on that space

Around 55% of our revenue in third quarter came from our talent solutions business enabling our customers find the right talent in the company. The second line of business we have is marketing solutions that include advertising but not just limited to it. That is 25% of our business. And this has sponsors, company groups, specialised presence on company pages and you can sponsor groups.

Overall, about 23% plus weekly unique mobile and tablet users. A majority of LinkedIn users are professional with access at workplace, so PCs still dominate. Having said that last year the figure was 13%, almost doubled. When you put our revenue line and business in context, we dont live by mobile advertisements. But mobiles are integral part of our business. More the people use it on mobile, more engaged they are on the website as well and come back more often. So we make quite a lot of money indirectly on mobile.

How are corporates using LinkedIn platform

Virgin, for instance, launched its new premium class on the research it did on LinkedIn of business travellers on what kind of things they care about. They found that legroom was the number one motive for business travellers.

The whole notion of LinkedIn as just a job search platform is a big myth. Right now five times activity on LinkedIn is non-job related. If they are spending 50 minutes on LinkedIn, only 10 minutes are jobs related.