LinkedIn, a social networking website primarily focused on business connections has added a section to their site that allows users to recommend service providers — a yellow pages based on user referrals. From web designers to doctors, users rate service providers in a thumbs up, thumbs down voting system similar to Digg.
LinkedIn has continued to gain members, increasing membership to 7.7 million as of September. Their specific focus has allowed them to compete with MySpace and Facebook’s younger audiences, as well as start-up CollectiveX and the ailing Friendster.
Idealab-founded InsiderPages.com has been amassing their own yellow pages that relies on the user community to provide rants and recommendations on businesses — ditto with start-up Judy’s Book. Yelp, which just raised another $10 million this month, is doing similar with restaurants and shopping, but their next logical step would be service providers. IAC-owned Citysearch is the “old dog” in this category, focusing on restaurant and shopping recommendations, but also has many service provider categories that just aren’t featured very well.
There are 23 million businesses in the U.S. and by 2010, local businesses are estimated to spend $10 billion in online advertising. Yellow page print books might seem archaic and wasteful to the tech-savvy, but they are still widely used and the industry is valued at more than $26 billion worldwide ($14 billion in the U.S.).