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5 things LinkedIn could have done to retain share value

Silicon Valley-based LinkedIn’s shares closed down 43.6 percent at $108.38 on Friday, after hitting a three-year low, following a sales forecast well short of analysts’ expectations (source Reuters.com)

Barclays analyst Paul Vogel said he was not surprised by the sharp reaction in LinkedIn stock. “It is definitely a lot harder not to wonder if the company is starting to hit saturation levels with certain users or enterprises,” he said in a note to clients (source The South Africa Technology News)

As a Premium Account LinkedIn user, I have a good understanding of how LinkedIn users are able to derive value from the platform, so I do not mind paying my monthly subscription. The problem for LinkedIn is that their predicted sales forecast was based on the assumption that their value proposition was understood by the majority of their users but this obviously was not the case.

I have listed five things LinkedIn could have done to avoid its sharp decline in share value.

1. Purge dormant and fake accounts

Regular LinkedIn users will concur that there is a high percentage of dormant and fake users on LinkedIn that should have been purged ages ago. Dormant accounts do not purchase LinkedIn products and fake accounts steal LinkedIn user information. If LinkedIn had done a better job at purging these accounts, their reported user numbers would have been more realistic.

2. Understand user requirements better

If you want to upsell your existing users, you have to understand them way better. There are numerous ways that LinkedIn could have engaged with active users, asking questions, polling them regularly to understand their requirements and personal challenges. By being more reactive with the information they gleaned, they could have been more proactive in providing valuable feedback to users, based on their findings, displaying that they care.

3. Develop regional LinkedIn training network

There are many companies selling LinkedIn training, which is absolutely vital if you want to develop informed users. Informed users understand the LinkedIn platform and the features and functions (which they need to pay for) that add value. To date, LinkedIn does not endorse (as far as I know) any LinkedIn training advisers and there is no LinkedIn certification available which is endorsed (as far as I know) by LinkedIn. With a properly managed regional LinkedIn sales training partner network, more users would have been trained and purchased upgrades.

4. Develop a referral programme

There are millions of LinkedIn users using the platform regularly, who are potential brand advocates. By establishing a referral programme, existing users would be encouraging their connections to upgrade, for the right reasons of course.

5. Make the platform more attractive

I have participated in many forums, where existing users have discussed all the functional short falls of the platform. If LinkedIn had listened to their users and resolved these problems, they would have made a lot of users happy and they in turn will have possibly shared this positive information with their networks. LinkedIn has a long way to go in terms of the analytics they provide and the user experience is still pretty “clunky” in places.

This is my take on the current situation. What are your views and thoughts?

Image: smi23le via LinkedIn.

Author | David Graham

David Graham
David Graham's passion is business-to-business digital marketing with a specific focus on value networking and inbound marketing. He consults on business-to-business digital marketing strategy and execution, with an emphasis on building sales pipelines and generating new prospects More
  • colleenintero

    I agree with each of your points. In fact, our team spends 98% of our day translating LinkedIn to smart people. LinkedIn is not intuitive and is difficult to learn on your own unless you don’t mind pressing every button, take notes and be willing to waste some time. As a company, LinkedIn has grown very quickly and they seemingly work in silos unaware of what’s happening elsewhere in the organization. I wrote a similar post last August http://bit.ly/1O0clt8. Thanks and happy to share.

  • David Graham

    Thank you for the feedback Colleen. LinkedIn can certainly do the job however there is a steep learning curve required. I will have a look at your post and thank you for sharing.

  • Craig McAlpine

    LinkedIn relies heavily on referals and trainers to actively promote the value proposition of its product – all unpaid for by LinkedIn. Yet there is no support nor communication with that group to ensure they are properly enabled to offer a fully informed service. An example was when Linkedin migrated its sales platforms and – without communicating to its sales platform subscribers, dropped off key functionality with the only alternative to regaining said functionality being to pay an additional $10 per month. There are many more examples where LinkedIn seems to have knowingly bitten the many hands that feed it. Is this growing pains, not listening to customers, poor communication or signs of a silo’d company in disaray? Take your pick, maybe it’s all of the above. Whichever of these is the case, I work hard to keep myself and my LinkedIn clients informed, and in a position to gain as much as I/they can from what is for the most part a great offering with many many features and benefits available to those who know about them. I hope LinkedIn get back on track, and keep their customers front of mind – especially those who are paying dearly for a ‘premium’ service which is priced at the top end of affordability for most.

  • Craig McAlpine

    I agree. When I scrambled to rectify LinkedIn training content and live demonstration capabilty – rendered unusable because of non communicated LinkedIn subscribed function changes, I was informed that the functionality was dropped by an external development team who weren’t aware of the existing linked functions and subscribed services. I think that’s the true definition of silo’d! Don’t you?

  • colleenintero

    Absolutely and crazy, too.

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