I’ve always felt that LinkedIn was a place where everyone wants to talk and promote, but few if any want to actually listen. Does anyone actually go there to find a vendor? To shop? For validation?
The exception is people seeking a job – I think this is a strength for LI.
Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s a powerful prospecting tool, networking tool and reference point if you’re thinking of doing business with a vendor – but does anyone want to consume, shop, read?
For that reason, in the long run, I think Facebook is likely to win over LinkedIn, because it’s engineered for consumption first. Amazon recently announced it is getting into the services business, probably driven first by distribution and a desire to have an Uber* style army of delivery drivers, and to further leverage it’s considerable traffic and attention.
Amazon will succeed in this I think – because it’s a consumption driven brand.
I believe the obvious play for LinkedIn is to develop consumption, but along the lines its users want: build out sites like Service Magic or Thumbtack (for B2C) or refine the expertise side like Quora or StackExchange for B2B.
In general, the internet has matured enough that demand is always far more important supply.
Supply is plentiful and practically infinite for most services and products people want. Shoes? There’s 10,000 websites to sell them to you – and another plethora of sites that show you where to buy them locally.
But shoe buyers? That’s the business of Google, Amazon, and ad networks, with their billion dollar valuations. If you have 10,000 shoe buyers, you’re pretty much guaranteed to make money. If you have 10,000 pairs of shoes, you may be in good shape – or just have a lot of slack inventory. Product is a lot less of a guarantee than demand for most industries.
The business of generating demand isn’t going anywhere, and as more of the planet comes online, will get increasingly valuable. It’ll also get even more competitive, more polarized, with fewer big winners and millions of also-rans.