Why Linkedin is growing so fast.

As first reported by Mario Sundar, Linkedin grew 319% last year.  And to some this seems almost surprising. But if you really look at what Linkedin does, it brings more to the table than a hookup site like Facebook does. Does that surprise you that I said that I said that? Talk to your average college student and ask them what they use FB for. They might not admit it but it’s a mechanism to try and hook up without having to actually speak. it lessens rejection and makes eventual physical interactions less stressfull and less in your face. People on Facebook when talking to others, will say things they would never say face to face, and thus the reason FB is so popular with the 18-24 demo.

Now some would say that Linkedin’s growth could be attributed to the growth of social networking sites into demographics that traditionally stay away from social networking. As Nick Oneill wrote in Social Media Today, the Boomer generation has an increasing number of people on social networks. Users over 45 now account for a whopping 31 percent of LinkedIn’s user base.  But Linkedin is NOT a boomer-centric site. That’s not what is spurring its growth.

I don’t view boomer’s as a traditional user of Linkedin per se, I look at boomers as PART of the mix that is the sum of the parts that define Linkedin’s user base.

What’s happening, is that business professionals are  a) starting to see the value of being transparent and b) beginning to utilize the power of  online networking and c) understanding that social media can be used in a way that does not construe them as being too young, too trendy, too ignorant, too old, too un-tech savvy, or too uncool to their peers. They are comfortable with it, and they are now sharing that comfort level with others. So the effect has been viral! And…here is the last part no one will admit.

People are addicted to watching their number of connections grow. They are obsessive to the point that I wouldn’t mind taking a straw poll as to how many times a day the average LI user logs in to look for people, add people, and or reading about someone, asking a question, or answering one.  The question would be: How much time do you spend on Linkedin each day?

Case in point: With other demographics, when they get together, the first or last question out of their mouth might be, “Are you on Facebook?”  Whereas, now because of the prominence of social networks, that same general social networking question now resonates differently and has a more meaningfull response when professionals ask each other, “Are you on Linkedin”? 

Linkedin’s creation has allowed some of the old school traditional business processes to be bypassed, such as: the exchanging of business cards, leaving voicemail, sending intro-letters, putting together press kits, creating static web pages, mailing out brochures, and giving away swag. Anything to connect. In favor of a clear, non invasive, low stress evaluation of someone and their company. The ability to reach out to that person and their company now takes on a whole new meaning. Introductions to people and their companies now can be done efficiently and business relationships now have a  pre-existing comfort level that is in place between parties who actually may do business together. A streamlined engagement. Look at it as “hooking up” the professional way!

Social media and baby boomers, Who is ignoring this demographic?

Ok so I admit it. Social media is cool. I love everything it stands for and the endless possibilities that it has. But my question to my educated audience is this. Is social media for the 15-34 age group? Does social media care about the baby boomer set? Sure I gave you the top 30 social networks for baby boomers awhile back, but what kind of play are they getting? Do they get the same kind of action that Facebook and Myspace get? Or are they glorified email holders with cute colors? Does the 50+ demo know the power of the social networks available to them?

I recently came across a site called Growing Bolder, great title and the premise was the promise. To boldly provide for the boomers a place to…where they can…while doing…in which…etc. etc… I’m not really bashing Growing Bolder, in fact I give them credit, along with the other 30 I have mentioned, for seeing a niche that can be catered to, marketed to and sold to. That’s right, sold to. What? you thought the reasons for creating this site and all the others, were purely altruisitc? Umm…ok…

Riddle me this, do we still have to call someone that’s 50+, an individual who is in pursuit of an active lifestyle? I don’t get that. Do boomers become sedentary? Do they just shut it down? I would imagine that most people don’t stop living or spending once they exceed 50, so maybe we should do away with the assumptions that accompany that age? To that end, shouldn’t we embrace the boomers that have taken Facebook for example, and made it an integral part of their lives? People run in the packs or the cliques that they most indentify with, but that doesn’t mean that the cool club or bar or restaurant that they want to go to, is going to deny them access. The same holds true for social networks. You stay over there and we’ll stay over here and there is plenty of room for all of us to enjoy what this place has to offer.

Check the stats, one of Facebooks biggest chunks of users are boomers or boomers on the cusp of being boomers. This does not mean that the advent and growth of boomer social networks should go away, it just means that boomers can go to any social network they want, and provided that their is a collection of their peeps there, more power to you.

Social media has not ignored the boomers but do boomers ignore social networks? Would boomers rather talk face to face or use a social networking app to do it? How do boomers relationships? How do they value social media relationships? I bet it has opened up a world of new possibilities for the person in pursuit of the active lifestyle! Sorry, I felt like saying active lifestyle again.

Here is the quick caveat though. Just because you the boomer is in Facebook, doesn’t mean that you have quickly transported back 30 years in time. Leave the 20 somethings alone and hang with your own people. I’m just sayin…