LinkedIn Daily 2006-09-06

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openBC logoLinkedIn vs. openBC Traffic Numbers

A bit of a fluff has been made about the fact that apparently openBC has higher page views than LinkedIn. In a comment on TechCrunch’s story about openBC’s design competition, Rolf from openBC reports on comScore’s traffic numbers:

Worldwide comScore numbers for July 2006:

(LINKEDIN.COM/OPENBC.COM)
Total Unique Visitors: 1,346,000 / 1,439,000
Average Daily Visitors: 75,000 / 142,000
Total Minutes: 20 million / 47 million
Total Pages Viewed : 44 million / 90 million
Average Minutes per Visitor 15.0 / 32.9
Average Pages per Visitor 33 / 63

(Figures obtained directly from comScore Europe – figures are world-wide.)

First of all, I think it’s great to see that openBC is doing so well – every success just validates the market.

But LinkedIn and openBC are very different tools, and can co-exist nicely in your toolbox. This also explains the difference in page views compared to member count.

There’s a key difference between openBC and LinkedIn: openBC has discussion forums and open private messaging. There is public interaction. There is private messaging just because two people want to chat.

LinkedIn has no public interaction whatsoever. LinkedIn’s private messaging is intended to be only one message between two people via the LinkedIn interface, then after that they move to e-mail or whatever. It’s transactional.

Therefore it would seem perfectly sensible to me that LinkedIn would, even being used as designed, generate far fewer page views per person or per session than openBC (or Ecademy or any of the other networking sites that have clubs/networks/blogs/private messaging/etc.) would. In fact, if it weren’t, I would say it wasn’t delivering on its core value proposition: getting more done with less effort.

Quote of the Day

From Why are niche job boards still emerging in a mass customization era?:

LinkedIn is of value to me in business if most of the people in my network are similarly thoughtful to me about who they accept as contacts (it creates a reputational system), but it is not useful to me in finding stuff to buy from trusted parties like ebay is (because there is no marketplace associated with it).

That’s such a key point. If the people you connect with do not have similar standards as to who they connect with, the entire value proposition of LinkedIn starts to break down.

In the future, when (I say optimistically) LinkedIn allows you to somehow rate/rank the strength of your relationship with other people and uses that information to make smarter introduction routings, then it will become far less important if some people only connect with former clients and co-workers while others connect with anyone who asks.

In the meantime, those connections that are in reality nothing more than an electronic record of an agreement to be linked are like putting non-existent roads on a map. Sure, it doesn’t actually do anything to the real relationships, but it makes them harder to find.

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks for the link, Scott; you make an interesting point. (I agree with your point about OpenBC too, btw – LinkedIn is mostly a passive tool.)

    The behavior variances in linking work along community and cultural lines too – early-stage VC’s might be more willing to hear from 3rd-degree people with the right approach than operating executives would; I would be more inclined to add people to my network when I’m looking for a job.

    I’ve long hoped for LinkedIn to add some calibration to the network and look forward optimistically that too. If there were a way to “price” those rankings meaningfully, so much the better (e.g., on eBay, you must transact in cash to rate a user). In fact, LinkedIn already has a pricing mechanism – if you ask me to introduce you to someone in my secondary network, and I agree, I am spending relationship capital on both you and the intermediary contact. Whereas if I say, gee, I know Warren Buffett is in my extended network, but I decline your request because the guy who connects us is someone who I know only superficially and is a promiscuous linker, that tells you something too. Limited numbers of introductions is also a form of pricing (though probably one that’s less useful), and there are other ways to extract implicit valuation of contacts (e.g., “send a holiday card to selected members of your extended network”).

    LinkedIn would do well to use – and create interesting leverage and visualization of – this kind of data.

  2. Great points, Greg. The feature that I’d most like to see on LinkedIn is some kind of scoring of relationship strength. I’d be willing to link with a whole lot more people if I could mark the relationship as a “1”!

    The key feature that would go along with this is that then it would enable LinkedIn to intelligently recommend the best possible introduction path.

    Another important feature that goes hand-in-hand with this is for the 1st-degree contact to choose the route if there are multiple 2nd-degree people who can get to the 3rd-degree person. Of course, if the feature I described above were implemented, this wouldn’t be as needed, since it would already be choosing the strongest path. As it is now, I’m not 100% sure, but I think it’s basically random – not sure how it could be anything else.

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