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How LinkedIn Got Its Groove Back

Grooveback
While FriendFeed and Twitter may be getting a lot of attention these days, it appears that LinkedIn also has the wind in its sails.

From a personal perspective, the number of LinkedIn invitations hitting my inbox has jumped over the past couple of weeks while the number of people asking to be my Facebook friend has nearly evaporated. Meanwhile, Compete.com shows that LinkedIn’s traffic has quadrupled over the past year. (See the graph below).

Among LinkedIn’s 17 million members is Bill Gates, who recently created a profile while he has apparently stopped using Facebook because it was taking too much time to sift through requests to be his friend.

So why the new-found love for LinkedIn?

Maybe some of the renewed interest has to do with some of the new features it has finally (reluctantly?) launched recently such as status messages, the ability to add new recommended contacts, a job board and a news widget.

(Note: Update II: TechCrunch is reporting that LinkedIn will launch corporate profile pages that will be fact sheets and show the connections that members have with them.

Perhaps LinkedIn is also receiving a Facebook Dividend. Think of it this way, Facebook has convinced an awful lot of people to embrace social networking because it was seen as new, fun and trendy. Many people, however, have grown tired of Facebook (aka Facebook Fatigue) for a variety of reasons: the novelty has worn off, it has become too distracting, the service doesn’t provide enough benefits, and/or it doesn’t meet their needs.

For many people (like me) who climbed on the Facebook bandwagon mostly as a professional tool (networking, branding, etc.), Facebook has its flaws. My thesis is many of these people have decided Facebook isn’t the social networking vehicle for them but they are still interested in social networking.

As a result, they have decided to take a fresh/new look at LinkedIn, which is seen as a professional tool without many of the bells, whistles and noise (e.g. Beacon, time-consuming applications) as Facebook. As someone said to me yesterday, “LinkedIn is the only serious choice for networking”.

For a comparison LinkedIn vs. Facebook as a business tool, check out this ComputerWorld story.

Update: According to Silicon Valley Insider, AOL’s $850-million purchase of Bebo, the largest social network in Europe, wasn’t universally agreed upon among AOL executives – mostly because they don’t believe Bebo’s sales and profits outlook can justify the acquisition price.

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