Becoming Social Curious in Procurement: Lessons on LinkedIn (What Makes it Sticky)


Like many Spend Matters readers, the “social” site and application that I spend the most time with these days is LinkedIn. Increasingly I’m spending more time on SpendLead and Procurious and as well — and, I admit, Twitter, too. (Shameless follow plug: @jasondbusch).

While there’s a lot of spam and junk on LinkedIn — and I’m so tired of “expert-in-a-box”-type firms like GLG copies reaching out unprompted and without introductions — there’s no question it’s become the site we all gravitate toward. I believe this is in part because it draws us in through multiple ways. LinkedIn:

  • Encourages us by design to keep our profiles up to date (since it very much has replaced the resume as the system of work and academic record — although it is one like Wikipedia, which might not always be accurate!)
  • Has also (on the flip side) become the system of record or the master data on the Web for seeing who others are (whether we know them or not) including doing a quick reference search to get more information on someone (often via Google)
  • Guilts us into not missing anything (e.g., friends new jobs, anniversaries, etc.)
  • Encourages both passive interaction and passive consumption (i.e., you can be lazy and still use it). For example, I count passive interaction as “endorsing” colleagues and passive consumption as reading the influencers or your peers, or checking in on groups from time-to-time
  • Teases us into check to see who is looking at our profile (and largely charges us for the privilege — but it’s a corporate narcissist's dream!)

This combination of factors makes LinkedIn sticky. I would also argue they make it a particular time waster for those in procurement, since aside from giving rough numbers on the size of suppliers provided its employees are largely white collar (based on registrations), it’s all about the individual consumption and not about getting smart on suppliers or supply markets (except for the group discussions, perhaps, but too much of it tends to be superficial, provider-led drivel).

Still, the model works given how much time we spend on it. And I must say, while I’m not an investor in LinkedIn, based on the usage patterns I’m seeing from both the practitioner and provider communities within procurement and supply chain of late, I’ve got to say I’d buy the leap call options if I were still a speculator. (And this despite the fact LinkedIn is not without some serious faults, like the time it takes to return results for certain free text searches of your network.)

On the provider/vendor side, we’re increasingly seeing more advanced firms (from a marketing perspective) redirect budgets from Google and others to LinkedIn, and some of our clients have found some clever ways to leverage our content and others in campaigns through LinkedIn versus on their sites directly.

I’d write more today on this, but LinkedIn just pinged me that someone new is looking at my profile. Time to see who it is. So I guess I’ll save these observations for the next post in this series.

Jason Busch, Pierre Mitchell and Peter Smith are all investors in SpendLead. SpendLead is also a Lead Sponsor of Spend Matters.

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