Why Facebook Will Destroy LinkedIn

This week, the Wall Street Journal published a story by Joe Light that highlighted certain employers, such as Waste Management, finding more recruitment success on Facebook than on LinkedIn.

“Facebook hires account for less than 1% of the total hires companies are making,” Light noted, quoting Jobs2Web’s recent analysis. “But if current growth trends continue, Facebook could rival traditional job boards in 2012.”

But it isn’t just the job boards that should be worried; Facebook will destroy LinkedIn, too. Here’s why:

  • LinkedIn has 120 million members; Facebook has 750 million. Employers understand the concept of fishing where the fish are.
  • The perception that Facebook is made up of flaky teenagers while LinkedIn includes only business professionals is wrong; the two sites’ average ages are just two years apart (38 for Facebook, 40 for LinkedIn). So there are plenty of 30-somethings on Facebook with years of work experience who are considering a career change.
  • LinkedIn is under attack by a major job board. In June, Monster launched BeKnown, an application that turns Facebook into a recruiting platform. It has 760,000 active monthly users after just two months. Instead of joining forces with LinkedIn, Monster chose to bypass the professional site and ally itself with Facebook.

  • LinkedIn is also drawing fire from a startup. BranchOut, founded by former SuperFan CEO Rick Marini, is a similar application with 2.7 million monthly users. Like BeKnown, BranchOut overlays employer information on top of the Facebook interface while shielding personal data (like embarrassing photos) from recruiters’ eyes. The success of these apps shows that millions of job seekers don’t want to leave their favorite website when looking for work.
  • LinkedIn can’t compete with Facebook’s social marketing. A major part of job searching involves personal references and word of mouth. Facebook is designed for just such interactions, as its “Recommended Pages” on a user’s home page shows. Instead of “Three friends like Pepsi,” users might soon see “Three friends applied to work at PepsiCo.” This sort of peer-to-peer marketing, effective in virtually every other field, will be impossible to duplicate on LinkedIn.

Facebook has more people, spending more time on the site, using innovative technology and getting personal referrals. LinkedIn has only its reputation and clean—bordering on empty—interface. I predict 2011 will be a tough year for the professional networking site. 2012 will be brutal. And, sometime in 2013, Facebook will finally destroy LinkedIn.

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