(NYSE:LNKD) and Facebook
(NASDAQ:FB) are both social networks, and there the similarities end -- or so you would think. LinkedIn has 200 million members, all of them professionals focused on business connections. Facebook passed the billion mark sometime late last year, and that’s about half of the people in the world who have access to the Internet.
And yet, as businesses, they both have the same challenge. It’s all about “stickiness,” in the gross terminology of the industry. It’s about giving those users a reason to access the site early and often, and to keep clicking while they’re there.
Only a few sites on the Web have that one nailed down, and they notably include Google
(NASDAQ:GOOG), the one that seems to have all the answers.
Maybe that’s why both LinkedIn and Facebook have chosen search as their next big project. Neither is encroaching on Google territory. Rather, they’re trying to create their own search applications within a closed world that they hope their users will stay inside.
Both are in the early rollout phases, so you might not be able to see or use them yet. Here’s a preview.
LinkedIn's New Search
LinkedIn is laser focused on one important chunk of the lives of its users: their work. Where they are now, where they’ve been, and where they might want to go next. What they’ve learned, and what they might need to know next. And, of course, who they’ve gotten to know along the way, and who they might want to get to know next.
This is all important stuff, but not all that riveting as a spare-time activity. Unless you’re one of those highly focused and single-minded ambitious types, LinkedIn isn’t a choice, it’s a chore.
Can tinkering with search functionality turn that around? It can help, especially if it guides LinkedIn users toward a richer selection of content. And fleshing out content has been another priority of the site’s management lately.
The revamp, announced Monday, encourages users to search for updates across all of its key content areas—jobs, people, companies, and so on. It adds an “auto-complete” function that prompts the user with options as the query is typed. It organizes search results into areas of possible interest, with previews to help the user make a choice. It has an advanced search option for filtering. And, there’s an alert function that notifies the user when a saved search has an update.
The new search is customized, too. Since it knows who you are, it can prioritize the results that might be most relevant. That is a feature that gets more refined the more you use it. None of these are revolutionary. Google and the Microsoft
(NASDAQ:MSFT)-owned Bing do some of the same things, or have equivalent features. But LinkedIn isn’t trying to compete with those general search engines.
From a business viewpoint, LinkedIn is trying to keep you in its world for longer, and get you to come back more often. It hopes its new search will encourage users to explore and use more of its features, and maybe even sign up for some of its premium levels.
Ultimately, it is going for a more engaged user base, one that will bring more professional recruiters and corporate human resource personnel into Talent Solutions, its most lucrative premium area.
LinkedIn will be rolling out its new search functionality gradually. If you don’t see it, you can preview it in the company’s blog
Facebook’s Graph Search
You’ve got to wonder who at Facebook is in charge of naming things. “News Feed” is peculiar enough, but "Graph Search"?
Graph Search is, or will be, a way for Facebook users to search everything ever posted by their friends, and their friends’ friends, for an answer to their questions.
So, if someone is considering watching the movie Cowboys and Aliens
, they can ask the community if it’s worth seeing. If they’re connected to me, they’ll see that I thought it was the worst movie ever made, period. The wider search may pull in a comment from someone who thought it was a terrific movie, although I seriously doubt it.
Presumably, that’s why it’s a “graph” search. If you keep connecting the dots in all directions, you’ll find…well, what will you find? A variety of opinions among people you know, who happen to have registered an opinion on this topic? An interesting comment or two?
There are so many better places on the Web to get an answer to this question, and most others.
Still, Graph Search may be a good alternative for some queries. For instance, you could find out which of your connections like to go bike riding, and live nearby. Or who likes Mexican food, and would know the best restaurants in the area.
Okay, it’s a stretch. Facebook is looking for ways to get users to go to it, and stay in it, making it the center of their Web activities. The company has a newly-redesigned top page, and the new Graph Search function. Both are “coming soon” for most users. We’ll see how it goes.
It’s clearly important to Facebook. In a company video
, Mark Zuckerberg calls Graph Search one of the three “pillars” of the Facebook experience, along with the News Feed and the Timeline.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.
Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.