Thursday, November 13, 2008

LinkedIn as a Data Source

AdAge had a good article about a simple segmentation of LinkedIn's user base. I've been thinking lately that LinkedIn could become the best source of B2B Marketing data in the world. Why?
  • It's international. People sign up all over Western Europe and North America and increasingly in Asian hubs like Singapore and Shanghai.
  • People add all kinds of information on themselves that can be increasingly accessed by text mining tools like SPSS Clementine (which is what they used for the AdAge piece.)
  • LinkedIn is increasingly adding meta data to profiles making the datawarehouse much more useful for modeling. The best example of this is the voluntary "alumni" and "company" networks which are self-policing. On the basis of personal experience, the self policing works at least somewhat well.

I can easily see a LinkedIn being purchased by a D&B (or, if they wait long enough, for the opposite to happen) because it will very quickly outstrip D&B as a data source. The biggest hurdle I see is the legal one--I'm not sure how far LinkedIn can go as a data provider without changing their privacy contracts. However, they could do this with a little effort.

I also see LinkedIn as a much more powerful tool in the long run over a FaceBook. This might sound crazy, but it's because I'm not talking about display advertising. It's using the network as a data source. Companies would pay tons of money for an accurate SMB / Enterprise data source that included actual personal relationships inside the company and relationships with people outside the company. Talk about CRM--this takes the B2B CRM approach I spoke about yesterday and really operationalizes it. Combine it with a D&B or InfoUSA and you've got a relationship marketing machine category killer.

The segments that the AdAge work uncovered were interesting:

  • First over 30 million people are signed up. Just doing some simple math, if there are 150 M in the "professional class" worldwide, that's 20% penetration. Pretty good.
  • First segment they ID'd was Senior Executives at 28% of population. Average income was $104,000--the highest.
  • Late Adopters, at 22% of the population, have low network power and were basically asked by colleagues to join. They don't actively tend their networks.
  • Savvy Networkers, at 30% of the population, actively tend their networks and have high network influence. They tend to be actively out there sourcing business, recruiting, looking for jobs, etc. They are dynamic and are the biggest "users" of the network. I expect there are a lot of entrepreneurs in here.
  • Exploring Options, at 20% of the population, are sort of the middle-of-the-pack folks who are generally happily employed but looking around.

This is a pretty simple segmentation and not all that useful but it gives you some insight into what someone could do with these data. The text mining was especially interesting. They were able to identify and quantify decision makers, decision makers' budgets, salaries at different title levels, etc. They also noted that 60% of users said they'd take a survey in their area of expertise. Think about being able to identify the entire decision making unit (DMU) inside of an SMB and multiply that be 1000. It's mind boggling. I'm waiting for the partnerships on LinkedIn and the real monetization to start.

Also, think about linking this into a collaborative partner marketing system. Microsoft provides LinkedIn matching data to its resellers in exchange for end user data... Yikes. Probably merits a whole other post or an article.

1 comment:

TomKomar said...

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