Sunday, July 3, 2011

Alternatives For Monetizing Linkedin

Inspired by the news that Twitter would be selling ads in your newsfeed, I suggested last week that it might be more beneficial for social sites and online-based content generators to charge their customers rather than relying on revenue from advertising. While that may sound like blasphemy to today's online user, I think in the long term it may be more efficient than pushing more ads on more people. Anyhow, I received some great feedback that sparked a couple of new ideas.

The success of LinkedIn's business model was repeatedly mentioned as something that should be emulated by other sites. However, the model is actually not new at all. In fact, it's very close to how traditional newspapers have made money for over a century. LinkedIn does charge some percentage of its users who desire the full-use of the site. The non-paying users are only allowed limited-use of the site. Additionally, LinkedIn has an advertising component to its business model. Despite its limited short-term success (a high initial public offering), I believe they're different opportunities to capitalize its position as the online home for professional networking, to make money and to make the site more social.

The basic outline starts with LinkedIn partnering up with other businesses who sell relevant products to its users. It could be anything from office supplies, flowers, lunches, thank you cards etc.

Lets say for instance that through LinkedIn you learn a colleague or friend received a promotion. You could go to a partnered retailer and get them a gift (or buy from a suggested). Maybe you had meeting or an interview and want to want thank that person while leaving a good impression going away. LinkedIn may help you find the right gift. Obviously, sales would be split up between the retailer and LinkedIn. Or why not offer lunch instead of simply asking to be introduced on the network.

I'm sure they're are plenty of other ways to monetize the site using the "gift plan." Maybe LinkedIn could "gift" free advice to young professionals which could be sponsored by a relevant company in the industry.

Social activity existed long before the internet. This engages the professional networks on LinkedIn in activities that are (actually) social and already doing offline. And it just seems like a more logical and seamless way to monetize a social activity than buying laundry detergent on Facebook.

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