A Digital Publishing Model That Work: What Newspapers Can Learn from LinkedIn
Mutter, Alan D., Editor & Publisher
There's a publisher whose sales doubled in the first quarter of this year, with display advertising revenues climbing 73 percent, subscription sales rising 90 percent, and recruitment revenues gaining 122 percent.
The publisher's name is LinkedIn, and the quarter was not unusual. Sales at the digital networking and recruiting site grew by 114.8 percent in 2011--at the same time interactive revenues at America's newspapers collectively advanced by 6.8 percent.
Why is LinkedIn doing so much better than newspapers, which dominated the employment vertical not so many years ago?
Because LinkedIn is executing crisply on a state-of-the-art digital-publishing model that contrasts rather sharply with the approach newspapers have taken since they segued into interactive publishing nearly two decades ago.
Newspapers can learn a lot from LinkedIn, which was built from the ground up to exploit a carefully targeted, revenue-rich vertical: the hundreds of millions of business people who want to make valuable connections to advance their careers--and the tens of thousands of recruiters seeking the best possible talent.
LinkedIn encourages people to publish a free, detailed profile of themselves, and then begin building connections among as many friends and strangers as they can. You can link directly to someone you already know, or request intermediaries to help you contact people you would like to meet. Taking a cue from computer games, LinkedIn even keeps score of how many connections you have made.
The depth and breadth of its audience has established LinkedIn as the unchallenged social network for business, making it the place to seek new business contacts or to recruit fresh talent for your company. Perhaps the single greatest appeal of LinkedIn is that your profile acts just like a resume, so you can openly make yourself available to new job opportunities without running afoul of the boss.
LinkedIn's traffic has quintupled since 2008, rising to 150 million registered worldwide users at the end of 2011, according to the company.
The steady growth has created a deep, rich, and eminently searchable database, thanks to the carefully structured way that LinkedIn gathers information from individuals as they create and update their profile.
With all the pieces in place, LinkedIn's triple-play revenue model produced a triple-digit sales increase in 2011:
* The company generated 54 percent of its sales from recruiters seeking to identify, evaluate, and contact potential job candidates. The recruiting service includes not only access to LinkedIn's steadily growing global database, but also a suite of tools that allows an employer to manage the entire hiring process from beginning to end. …