LinkedIn Has a Vision for Big Data – What’s Facebook’s? Twitter’s?

Forbes wrote this really interesting cover story on LinkedIn. I definitely recommend reading the whole thing, but I wanted to specifically pull one quote from it that really struck me [SPOILER ALERT: this is the last paragraph from the piece]:

“This may be five to ten years away,” Weiner says. “But there could be data on every economic opportunity, every skill required to get those jobs and every company offering those roles. There could be a professional profile for every member of the 3.3 billion people in the global workforce. If that economic graph existed, imagine all the friction coming out of the system as those connections are forged.” That’s a vision as grand as Zuckerberg’s idea of every person on Earth hosting his personal life through a Facebook page—and given the trillions spent on business each year, it’s a bull’s-eye that’s potentially even bigger.

Everyone always talks about the vast amount of data that is available from social networks, with a lot of the really interesting conclusions being done by university researchers. However, up to this point, all Facebook has been able to do with its data is serve up more sophisticated advertising, and it’s the reliance on standard display advertising (which is really a dying revenue stream) that is making it difficult for Facebook to succeed post-IPO.

LinkedIn, on the other hand, has a vision: connecting all the job openings to job seekers across the globe. I don’t think I can emphasize too strongly how awesome this is. This is data and social media being used to solve major, global problems – not just connecting people to each other or to companies, but really making the world smaller and easier to navigate.

Obviously, it helps that all of LinkedIn is pretty much geared towards an enterprise market to begin with, but even still, they’re really doing an incredible job turning all this data into something useful, something they can sell. Their LinkedIn Recruiter product is just the first step in the monetization of their user base, and they realize that selling advertising and consumer accounts just wasn’t going to cut it.

Facebook doesn’t seem to have the same sense of vision. Neither does Twitter.

Twitter made some major changes to its API system lately, all of which suggests its focus is on the consumer experience, leaving enterprise to 3rd-party developers:

Twitter has no interest in the enterprise. For that matter, neither does Facebook. I’ve also seen argued that Twitter is trying to be a media company, although the CEO denies that’s the case. With their NBC partnership on the Olympics, they are focusing more on content and the consumer experience, which in my opinion, is a losing proposition.

Facebook, on the other hand, has made a ton of products available for business and has really done a great job integrating itself into the entirety of the web. Unfortunately for them, all those great features and data that it’s collecting is made available to businesses for free. Makes it kind of tough to monetize. They have a great platform for being able to offer more integrated, data-driven experiences for users and consumers that is more than glorified advertising. They just have to figure out how.

Selling advertising will never be as lucrative as selling data. LinkedIn has proved that. So Twitter, Facebook – what’s your vision?

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