Vertical Social Networks


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Overview of vertical social networks space and business models for the Professions Go Social Session at SXSWi 2013

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  • Learnist, from test prep company Grockit, has been described as Pinterest for education. Learnist enables users to add Web resources -- such as blogs, feeds, videos and podcasts -- to Learnboards to quickly create lessons and units.
  • of Platform Solutions:LinkedIn’s LinkedIn Recruiter, InMails, or ProfileStats Pro, premium account types include premium features
  • of Platform Solutions:LinkedIn’s LinkedIn Recruiter, InMails, or ProfileStats Pro, premium account types include premium features
  • is an investment network that lets user follow and trade based on activity of other investors.
  • INVESTORS LIKE LINKEDIN MORE THAN FBHow is it that LinkedIn, less engaging and so much smaller than Facebook, is so much better at making money?Professional versus socialThe answer seems to lie in the nature of information found on each platform. When aggregated at scale (and mapped to true identities), both sets of data are easily monetizable in a number of ways. But professional data holds key characteristics that are currently making it, pound for pound, more valuable to Wall Street than social data.Recency:Our professional lives don’t change at nearly the same pace as our social lives. Many users only return to LinkedIn to update their profiles when they change jobs, but the information LinkedIn has about users’ professional life is relatively current and up-to-date. On the flip side, Facebook requires you to constantly update your rapidly changing social information to retain value as well as stay relevant to target advertisers.Authenticity. People take a great deal of creative license when they represent themselves in their social circles. Of course it happens in professional life as well (I’ve seen quite a few cases of rounded-up GPAs or overstated ‘charity’ involvement), but you don’t typically see resumes where the candidate says they attended “The School of Hard Knocks” or are the current President of the United States, when actually they are still a senior at Berkeley. On Facebook, facts are just not as important as having fun and impressing your friends. But it’s easier for advertisers to monetize accurate information that truly reflects consumer identities and preferences.StandardizationWhat defines me professionally is far more limited than what defines me socially. My social identity on Facebook is a complex and ever-changing amalgamation of ideas, interests, thoughts, pictures, places and media that I am perpetually curating and refining as my tastes and life change. However, in the professional arena, I am defined by a far more standardized set of criteria: where I live, my age, where I worked, my job title, where I studied, what I majored in and my GPA.  For recruiters, this is easy data to digest and utilize, and it doesn’t change very often. This is also what makes it so valuable and inherently easier to monetize.Put it like this: if users simply stopped editing their Facebook profiles, Facebook would have little value to advertisers after about 3-5 years. Conversely, LinkedIn would still be the largest collection of professional data and resumes in the world.Enterprise spend versus consumer spendConsumer-focused business models can be a real slog, and steady monetization is elusive. First, there are the challenges of scaling and distribution, then fast-paced innovation and blistering competition, not to mention the fickle and unpredictable spending habits of the customers themselves. Remember when Netflix increased their prices marginally? Members were outraged and attrition skyrocketed.SAP and Oracle steadily increase prices on their enterprise customers each year with clock-like dependability with very little fallout.When companies find a solution that works, they adopt it, integrate it, budget for it, and are unlikely to shed it. Mass adoption can take years, even decades, to achieve, but once established, the revenue streams can resemble a long-term annuity.Despite yielding revenue from premium subscriptions and consumer-facing advertising, LinkedIn, at its moneymaking core, is an enterprise company. It sells its lead enterprise recruiting solution, LinkedIn Recruiter, at a high price-point, as well as a number of other offerings for the enterprise.My gut tells me that Wall Street likely values the long-term enterprise contract revenue at significantly higher multiples than the consumer-facing streams.Whether that’s advertising to users to buy a good or a service, enrolling them in a game, Facebook makes money in one way: facilitating consumer spending. This generally means more volatility on the path to monetization.
  • MODEL: Freemium model, supported by ad placements and certain paid features.Other specs:Specialize in companies with under 10 employeesgrowing at 1,300 new business sign-ups a day!57B tracked in income and spending130k bank accounts connected33M transactions downloaded11M minutes of data entry savedCompany can undercut a lot of other options out there, without sacrificing features, through integrated advertising and select paid products, like the payroll offering, and the online credit card payments it’s using for direct response to invoicing. Wave is a great online accounting application for small businesses. There are several features that, taken together, make Wave different from other accounting tools. 1) Accounting is totally free. Not freemium, or free with usage caps. Just plain free. 2) Wave Accounting is a full double-entry accounting app, which is preferred by accountants. It also has financial dashboards, and can track expenses, and can be used in a lightweight manner if business owners don’t need or want full accounting… “It’s really about bringing together all sorts of different functionality together into one place for small business owners. We’ve signed up about almost 500,000 small businesses around the world so far, and are adding new ones at a rate of about 1,300 new signups each day.” Free offerings will remain a core part of the platform, and that freemium will always be the plan for Wave. He says that with products like direct payment transactions and payroll where charging a fee makes sense, they’ll continue to do that, too, and also notes that conversions are very promising in terms of getting customers on board with those products from the existing free ones, though he wouldn’t go into specifics.
  • Intro with DCJ, ANIMATIONS illustrate their 360 approach….Worth mentioning they’re gathering all of this 360 data about IT buyers on the backend…BACKGROUNDSpiceworks connects a community of 2.4 million IT professionals with 1,500+ tech vendors, offering a wealth of content-types and a suite of IT workflow apps to help members better perform their jobsCOMMUNITY- Advice, Q&A, Discussions, Meet-ups at events, etc. WORKFLOW- Help Desk, Inventory, Monitoring, Purchasing appsCONTENT- How-to’s, Product Reviews, Vendor PagesResults2.4m memberbase growing at *2,300/dayUsers spend 500m min/month on IT applicationsMore than 30k product reviewsHigher engagement (time per unique) than LinkedIn (3:09 min. vs. .18min) Revenue per registered user is more than twice that of LinkedIn’sMonthly Engagement2.9M unique users14.5M tickets produced56M page views550M minutes
  • Vertical Social Networks

    1. 1. Setting the Stage for Vertical SocialNetworksRebecca Lieb, Industry Analyst@lieblink @altimetergroup | #B2BSocial
    2. 2. Q Who here has heard of vertical social networks?2
    3. 3. Q Who here uses vertical social networks?3
    4. 4. Vertical Social Networks well poisedas the most credible info source
    5. 5. Agenda• Defining VSNs• Community-Driven Content• Robust Community• Workflow Applications• Business Models• Case Example
    6. 6. Vertical vs. Horizontal• Highly segmented user base • Highly diverse user base• Specific topics covered in • Broad topical range depth • Low specialization• High specialization • Less public privacy• Generally more private, gated
    7. 7. Vertical Networks – “Socializing”Business Functions HR IT Fin Med Dev R&D Industry Specific ... Where IT Goes to Work Networks Professional Network Personal Network
    8. 8. Community-Driven ContentCommunity membersgenerate the bulk of sitecontent and drive siteinteraction Learnist has been described as the „Pinterest‟ for education, enabling users to add blogs, feeds, video, podcasts, comments, votes, etc. to “Learnboards” in order to quickly create lessons and course units.
    9. 9. RobustCommunityA concentrated and highlyspecialized community, withshared issues, interests, andconnections GovLoop is a platform of more than 60,000 public sector professionals dedicated to best-practice/blog/resource sharing, finding career opportunities, training, and connecting with other government workers.
    10. 10. WorkflowApplicationsProviding tools and contentto enableprofessionals/membersbetter accomplish theirwork/goals Medical professional network, Doximity offers all members secure digital fax lines, accessible via web and mobile. It also enables secure messaging and search between colleagues and other providers.
    11. 11. VSNs: The Business CasePossible business models selling to brands andadvertisers• Marketing solutions • Platform solutions • Advertising & content • Co-branded platform functions • Targeted audience • Workflow applications • Influencer identification • APIs and embeddable widgets • Influencer contracting • 3rd party shopping (“s- commerce”) • Sponsorship, promotions • Lead generation • Research/Analytics packages• Hiring/candidate-sourcing • Customized reports for brands/ • Matches employers with job seekers vendors
    12. 12. VSNs: The Business CaseCreate value for members• Membership model • For businesses themselves • Enable members to better perform their • Empowers employees jobs/functions • Career development • Enable knowledge sharing via community, 1:1 • Integrating VSN into existing business model • Jobseekers can engage and collaborate with fellow jobseekers• Premium subscriptions model • Access to premium access, features, APIs, etc. • Enable member-brand communication • Integrated Apps, APIs
    13. 13. E-Toro incentivizes top investors (influencers)and takes a cut off of each trade With 2M+ users across 140 countries, the central feed showcases top investors‟ activities in real-time and allows users (novice traders) to mimic their decisions.Managing investments worth tens of billions annually, the company pays traders $1013 per follower and then takes a commission (.1-.3%) off each transaction.
    14. 14. Example: Forrst leveragesmembership for targeted job ads Forrst offers immense value to members, as a community where developers and designers cancrowdsource and test their ideas out. The site makes money through both membership and piping in job posts and relevant ads targeting this highly 14 specialized audience.
    15. 15. Example: LinkedIn‟s multi-trackBusiness Model drives mass scale LinkedIn‟s revenue grew 81% YOY in Q3 2012 at $252m, jumping to an estimated $940m full-year. 20% of total 50% 30% revenue
    16. 16. Putting the Pieces Together: Case Examples
    17. 17. Wave handles accounting for SMBs, liberatingthem to focus where they really need to Wave serves as an all-in-one solution for very small business payroll, personal finance,accounting, invoicing, payment transactions, and other key finance WORKFLOWS. They bolster their COMMUNITY with a paid pro network, SMB forum, and CONTENT like FAQs, discussion threads, SMB data, and other resources.
    18. 18. Spiceworks provides value at every stage of the purchase cycle… Learn Connect Network with buyers inside the leading social network for IT Uncover IT buyer behaviors/preferences that shape purchase decisions SellReach Marketing tools to reach an Link your sales force or reseller audience of over 2M IT pros directly into our marketplace
    19. 19. THANK YOU Rebecca Lieb Twitter: lieblinkDisclaimer: Although the information and data used in this report have been produced and processed fromsources believed to be reliable, no warranty expressed or implied is made regarding the completeness,accuracy, adequacy or use of the information. The authors and contributors of the information and datashall have no liability for errors or omissions contained herein or for interpretations thereof. Referenceherein to any specific product or vendor by trade name, trademark or otherwise does not constitute or implyits endorsement, recommendation or favoring by the authors or contributors and shall not be used foradvertising or product endorsement purposes. The opinions expressed herein are subject to change withoutnotice.
    20. 20. 20ABOUT USAltimeter Group provides research and advisory for companieschallenged by business disruptions, enabling them to pursuenew opportunities and business models.Visit us at or