For last two years Google is trying hard to emerge in social media but unfortunately all efforts are not paying off well. Desperation has reached to a level where company’s new CEO Larry Page has tied 25% annual bonus directly with the success of social strategy in 2011. After couple of immense but failed acquisition attempts from social media industry, like Groupon and Twitter, Google is expected to look towards LinkedIn – A very niche professional networking website – An obvious shortcut for company if he ever wants to win in social space.
Facebook is witnessing enormous growth on regular interval. Standing at 80 billion valuations, company is expected to reach $100 billion valuation by end of 2011. Certainly, it’s going to be a daunting task for Google to compete with Facebook at this level without acquiring another social property with significant market share.
Undoubtedly, Twitter was the best bet and Google understood it lately but despite of whooping $10 billion acquisition offer from Google, Twitter management decided to stay independent in the interest of long time vision.
Interestingly, a majority of Google’s acquisition in the last couple of years either did not pay off well to company or went to Google only to die for.
However, in last one year LinkedIn has witnessed enormous success and reached 100 million users mark recently. Most importantly, LinkedIn has a got one thing which no one else has got expect Facebook and this makes LinkedIn much more valuable than others – Real Human Identities.
Facebook’s massive success and adoption lies under Real Identity of users which company has maintained from the beginning. Real identities are why people go on Facebook all the time. It makes the site feel more trustworthy. It makes sure people have their real friends on there with real photos. Being an online identity repository and system is a huge competitive advantage for Facebook, and something it’s doing effortlessly despite every big company trying and failing to get people to use their real identities online. Real identities are what makes social networks “stick” and be so valuable.
LinkedIn is also gearing up for IPO with the current valuation of $2 billion. Making it more effective, LinkedIn has gained traction with its new focus on content sharing. Launch of LinkedIn Today is the initiative on the same direction. The company has also introduced many new features which are very much identical to Facebook.
On the other side, Google holds many reimbursements for LinkedIn. If LinkedIn needs to continue on progressive path, it will have to evolve focus slowly from “merely” professional networking. The barrier between personal and professional identity online is getting blurrier and blurrier anyway. Services like Twitter and About.me are already hard at work obliterating that distinction. That would be bad for LinkedIn as a standalone company, but great for a Google-owned LinkedIn.
Currently, LinkedIn is the only social network (for executives only) which can challenge Facebook with full potential. The only thing is required to transform itself from professional network to social network. Opting Google brand will be a significant approach for LinkedIn and vice-versa.
Now it’s up to Google when they initiate the buying process but if Google really wants to do that, It need to happen in very short span of time as LinkedIn is extremely close for filing IPO.