Thursday, January 10, 2013

LinkedIn's Tipping Point (The Waldo Factor, part 16)

LinkedIn announced on January 9 that it had reached 200 million members.

LinkedIn launched in May 2003 and was on a slow growth curve for several years. By Q1 2009 LinkedIn had reached 36 million members; Q1 2010, 64 million; Q1 2011, 102 million; Q1 2012, 161 million; and Q1, 2013 it reached 200 million - with 74 million in the U.S.

An article by Wyatt Kash came out earlier this week from AOLGov and highlighted the results of a Forrester study commissioned by LinkedIn. The study looked at the role of social media in the IT buying process.

Among the results :  "That 85% of those surveyed have used at least one social network for business was not surprising. What was surprising, said (Mike) Weir, was that three out of four had engaged directly with an IT vendor through a social network. (Also not a surprise: 95% of IT decision makers report using LinkedIn.)

What's evolved over the past two years, however, said Weir, is the extent to which the use of social networks has grown from a way for professionals to connect with their peers, into something deeper and more dynamic." (from the AOLGov article)

The article goes on: "The study, which polled 400 IT decision makers across North America, asked what's causing IT decisions to turn to social networks? According to their responses:
  • 58% said to learn from trusted peers
  • 49% said to access a broader network of peers
  • 40% said to quickly find reliable information
  • 37% said networks provide relevant context to connect with vendors."
Rather than keep quoting from the article, I suggest you read it, and I'll get to my point: what was the tipping point for LinkedIn? When did it cease to be a place where you had a profile and visited occasionally and become the site that gets 160 million unique visitors each month?

When did people start using LinkedIn to seriously share information and build communities?

The reality is, since the first groups were formed this has been happening. The numbers simply increased year-over-year until sometime between late 2010 year and mid/late 2011 when critical mass occurred. I base this purely on empirical observation, being a perpetual monitor of LinkedIn from a GovCon perspective.

I have monitored the growth of key groups in our market and to an extent I have monitored the discussions. There are some groups with many discussions, but not all are germane. The better groups are well-managed and the discussions can be lively and have multiple participants.

The activity in the groups I belong to has been improving in both quality and quantity. The membership in some key groups has been growing as well.

LinkedIn can be a sales tool, a business development tool, and most certainly a marketing tool.

But the major function is communtiy builder.

There are three types of people: those who make things happen; those who watch things happen; and those who wonder what happened. Need to get better on LinkedIn and make things happen? Attend my LinkedIn for Government Contractors seminar February 19. Use code "GMM" for a 20% discount.


  1. Mark, I would agree that 2010 was probably the tipping point year where people started taking Linked a little more seriously.
    Many people are still slow to fully utilize all LI has to offer - as you well know!

  2. Yuhannes- I agree, and I'd go further. I think less than 10% of the total population on LinkedIn leverage it as well as they should. I try to monitor osme of the more active users to kep up with what they are doing and what seems to work.

    From my obeservations, at least 20% have little or no useful information on their profiles.

    The middle 70% fall between the power suers and the deadbeats.