This post is based on speculation and opinion. I have no inside information, but I have a theory as to the direction LinkedIn and Facebook might take. Over the last few months I’ve been thinking a lot about what the long term aims and ambitions are for the super channels that are LinkedIn and Facebook. My feeling is that there might just be a marriage of convenience coming, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this happen over the next twelve months. This doesn’t mean that I expect to see any formal acquisition or merging, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a LinkedIn app built on top of Facebook, and this would be big news for recruiters.
In my view, the long term aim of Facebook is to become the web. Everything I see being introduced in to the channel or talked about is aimed at getting users to spend more and more time in the channel, and to be able to do all that we want to do without leaving Facebook. The recently launched App Store promotes apps from all providers, aggregating the apps in to one store that keeps the users in channel. Facebook acquired instagram which again has the same objective, competing with the likes of Flikkr for users. at the same time they launched the Facebook Cam App which makes images perfect for timeline, further encouraging users to keep their images in the channel.
There has been a lot of talk recently about the proposed Facebook job board. From what I can see this is going to be an aggregator for external job boards. looks like Facebook are not trying to compete with the job boards for users, but under the guise of enhancing the user experience are looking to give users yet another aspect of their life they can conduct on Facebook and stay within the channel. My other feeling about the job board is that they will be introducing a feature like Work4Labs that keeps the application process in channel. I think we are going to be seeing more developments like this in other areas that serve to encourage us to spend more and more of our on-line time in channel, and don’t forget that there has been a lot of talk around a Facebook phone, which I’m guessing will automatically divert and prioritize access to the channel.
My feeling is that this is all about PPC and other ad revenue. The more time we spend in the channel and the more we do there, the more Facebook learns about us, and the more they know about us, the better the ads they can serve up, and the more we will click on. My feeling is that despite all the talk of Facebook v LinkedIn, the real play is Facebook v Google, and if there is no need to leave the channel for anything because it is all served up in Facebook, then there is no need to search elsewhere.
This is where LinkedIn come in. My view is that the long term aspirations of LinkedIn are to become the people reference channel. In the past, any time you’ve met someone new or wanted to check someone out, you went to Google, now the first place you look for anyone in the professional space is on LinkedIn. The way the data is structured in the channel also makes it the best social sign in, form auto-completer or application. I think Facebook recognise that they are unlikely to ever be able to compete with LinkedIn in this area. This provides a platform for the channel to grow well beyond recruiting, generating their revenue through third-party access to the API and data.
What I think LinkedIn recognize is that they will never be able to compete with Facebook for numbers of users or non-professional users. If the two channels were to combine resources through a LinkedIn app on Facebook, bot channels could achieve their objectives without competing. If the professional data on a user came from LinkedIn, rather than Facebook info section, and everyone on Facebook was encouraged from registration to create a LinkedIn profile via the app, imagine the possibilities. LinkedIn gets the data, a wider range of users across all work types rather than just the professional sector, and the app gives users another reason to spend even more time in Facebook. both channels achieve what I believe are their objectives, and it is Google who would suffer.
This might seem a little crazy, but think about what a LinkedIn app integrated in to Facebook would mean for everyone, not least the users who both channels claim to consider before everything else. When it happens, you heard it here first.