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With the global economy still in a tailspin and waves of layoffs still hitting major industries, it's no surprise that websites catering to professionals and job-seekers are increasingly popular.

After all, business and jobs become far more important when business is harder to build and jobs are harder to come by.

According to TechCrunch, one such beneficiary of the current economic environment is professional social network LinkedIn. It's often referred to as a Facebook for adults and while Facebook's massive growth is hard to beat, LinkedIn isn't doing so bad itself.

TechCrunch cites comScore data from January showing that LinkedIn's unique visitors shot up an impressive 22% month-over-month, reaching 7.7m from 6.3m in December 2008. Even more impressive - time spent on the site. That doubled, with visitors spending 96.8m minutes on LinkedIn in January as compared to 47.6m a month ago in December.

Erick Schonfeld observes:

Part of what is driving all the activity is people looking for job, and helping friends who are out of work. Recommendations are up 65 percent since December, says spokesperson Kay Luo. LinkedIn’s improved people search, which it launched at the end of November, is also driving a lot of activity on the site. The company is seeing a 50 percent increase in activity on the new search platform.

But is this really good news for LinkedIn and other websites catering to professionals and job-seekers? I'm not so sure.

Most of these websites are highly-dependent on the very people who are hurting: employers and businesses. Fewer jobs mean fewer job postings.

With more businesses and professionals feeling the pinch, premium services could become a bit less appealing. LinkedIn's premium offerings cost anywhere from $24.95 per month to $499.95 per month. Not exactly cheap when you're counting your pennies.

And with advertisers cutting back, paying a premium even to reach the more affluent demographics sites like LinkedIn generally appeal to may not be as attractive as in the past.

All of this means that LinkedIn probably doesn't have an inverse financial correlation to the economy, one in which the economic downturn actually contributes to a boost in its revenues above and beyond normal growth.

In reality, traffic growth has never been a good measure of financial growth and while I suspect that LinkedIn will do just fine, I think traffic metrics today are of far less importance than they were even a year ago thanks to an upside down economy.

By that measure, it's possible that sites like LinkedIn are worth less today from an investment standpoint than they were when times are good, even though bad times means greater popularity.

Patricio Robles

Published 16 February, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2377 more posts from this author

Comments (3)

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David Hamill

If LinkedIn keeps going the way it is, then I can see it becoming less important to its users. The user experience is beginning to suffer from feature creep. Also the spamming from the likes of recruitment agencies (a different type of creep altogether) makes it more difficult to get the value from it.

over 7 years ago

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Sean Goulart

I agree with David Hamill - LinkedIn is a great idea but now is suffering badly from spammers and e-trawlers such as recruiters. The group discussions are flooded with spam and many of the members are quitting the groups, which were a great source of connecting and discussing new ideas. LinkedIn knows this all very well, so why aren't they doing something about it? If Facebook can keep it under control, then LinkedIn needs to address it.

over 7 years ago

Tony Barker

Tony Barker, Director & Founder at eEnablement - Online Interim Management & ConsultancySmall Business

Having used LinkedIn for the last few years it has always struck me that the idea/concept is good - ie supporting development of professional networking, but lacked any really good/useful "killer applications" for users. The job board/search is OK - but not as good as some of the bext recruitment sites out there (eg exec-appointments). In fact the best application of LinkedIn proposition I have experienced is the ability to show users from a recruiting organisation in LinkedIn when searching for jobs on Monster - if it wasn't for the fact that using Monster is like looking for a needle in a haystack!

over 7 years ago

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