LinkedIn has been part of Microsoft for a few weeks now. As you’d expect from a firm with new owners, there’s been a steady stream of news it seeks to turn change into momentum. So what are they building?
A new wardrobe
The most immediate changes are cosmetic. LinkedIn has long had a reputation for being startlingly clunky network. A series of cosmetic changes, which began to rollout before the deal was complete, have updated its appearance and tweaked some of the structure; profile pages are easier to access, as are company pages for page managers. Navigating LinkedIn is still testing at the best of times, however, so expect more changes to come.
I’m not looking for a job
LinkeIn’s last reported revenue ($960million) showed a year-on-year increase of 23%. It’s impressive growth, but almost two-thirds came from its talent solutions offering.
We all have anecdotal evidence that people only really begin engaging with LinkedIn when they’re looking for a job. Be honest, when was the last time you brushed up your profile? LinkedIn needs to breakaway from its reliance on its talent solutions income.
It looks like one part of the solution is CRM. Microsoft has an established CRM tool, Dynamics, but it’s clunky, focused solely on the enterprise (where the money is) and unloved by anyone who uses it. LinkedIn has the potential to become a strong mobile CRM. Last week, through a calendar integration, they enabled mobile app users to see the LinkedIn profiles and updates of people they have meetings with.
This is a really simple but key integration. Better, more current information about the connections you’re actually dealing with, rather than the ability to spam people you’ve never met might be something more people are willing to pay for. And getting people to pay is critical if LinkedIn is address its financial dependency and the reputation limitations of its recruitment solutions. In its last quarterly results, LinkedIn said less than a quarter of its users visit the site at least monthly. It doesn’t, however, break out how many of those regular users pay for premium accounts. It’s likely to be a small fraction.
The calendar integration is a simple first step. Integrating with email services and other social media (where possible) could see LinkedIn become a very powerful, incredibly simple social CRM that sits in your pocket. It could become a hub that helps you manage relationships.