If you’re like me you’ve been seeing Facebook newsfeed notifications from something called Branchout more and more frequently lately. The status updates don’t lie: Branchout, a LinkedIn for Facebook, has seen explosive growth in January growing from 10K to 250K monthly users, with a total usership now in the hundreds of thousands.
We brought CEO Rick Marini into the TCTV studio to talk to him about why exactly the Facebook app was growing exponentially six months after launch, which he says happened because of the network effect after “super connectors” like Mike Arrington and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman joined.
Says Marini, “A lot of the super connectors, people with a thousand, 2000, 5000 friends, have found Branchout, are getting value out of it as a recruiting service and are starting to invite all their friends. These are the infuencers and the tastemakers as they’re inviting people those people want to join … It sort of snowballs.”
Marini says that the app’s popularity is now expanding beyond Silicon Valley and into the Scandanavian countries as well as Italy, France and Germany. Marni is also excited at the currently under-explored potential of the Facebook platform for career utilities, as competitor LinkedIn has 45 million active users to Facebook’s 600 million active users.
According to Marini, another reason the app has gone viral is that Branchout takes advantage of the inherent social structure of Facebook to make career networking on the platform both a utility and fun, incorporating elements like gamification, career quizzes and contests like The Ultimate Internship Contest in order to appeal to a younger “more tech savvy” crowd.
After all those college kids posting drunken photos now will be looking for a job someday.
Update: As some of you have pointed out in the comments, BranchOut recently changed the text on its invite button from “Connect” to “Share” a move that could have contributed to the 2400% growth in January. While I was not aware of this during the interview, I asked founder Rick Marini about the validity of this claim and received the below comment in an email.
“The comment regarding our growth solely coming from the “connect” vs “share” is flat out wrong. We have experimented with different text on the site and that page was subject to experimentation too. A lot of our traffic growth actually came from our “super connector badges” that people started to post in January. We also took off in Europe and we don’t know why. We suspect some super connectors in Europe started inviting friends and that was the spark there. So in the end, our traffic grew for several reasons but certainly not solely due to what that user referenced. “
BranchOut is the largest professional networking service on the Facebook platform. The service leverages users’ social graphs and networks to help them find jobs, sales leads, and new hires. The company has over 500 million professional profiles through 30 million active users. The company was founded in July 2010 by Rick Marini.