The latest figures released by Hitwise indicate that traffic to LinkedIn is up 323% in the last year and 17% in the last week alone. It’s a healthy rise, and something LinkedIn should be pleased with, however the real question becomes: is this growth high enough given the rising popularity of Facebook as the social networking destination of choice?
The comScore figures speak for themselves:
The natural reaction by some will be to argue that comparing LinkedIn to Facebook is like comparing Apples and Oranges, and in part that is true. LinkedIn provides a more focused business networking product and it works fairly well for that purpose, but people flock where other people are going and nearly everyone who takes their social networking seriously (ie: adults) are joining Facebook.
By no means is Facebook the perfect business networking platform in comparison. The relationship options for new contacts remain a bit of joke, yet it would be stupid to believe that this will always be the case. Facebook will improve their product to satisfy this market, it’s not a question of if but when.
LinkedIn is trying to respond to the Facebook challenge; as we wrote June 24, LinkedIn is moving to open up its platform to third party developers to better compete with Facebook, but the delivery time on the project was said to be “in the next 9 months”. LinkedIn has added new features such as an Answers service and service recommendations, and also has $25.8million in funding behind it.
The problem for LinkedIn is now time. As Facebook powers ahead with a superior and more compelling offering, the relatively static LinkedIn may continue to operate, but it faces the real risk of becoming irrelevant in the medium term, if not more quickly.
Previous TechCrunch LinkedIn coverage here.