Are Facebook planning to take on LinkedIn?

As it scrabbles around to try and nail the monetisation angle, it seems that recruitment is the latest sector to feel the beams of Facebook’s focus. With its depressed stock, declining popularity – especially amongst early adopters – and their recent willing to stumble into misguided political comment, Facebook has been having a tough time of it recently.

However, where one billion people hang out, there are huge opportunities for recruiters. And, whilst plenty of people complain about Facebook, they do still hang out there in their droves. Add in the rich personal information, not to mention the ability to delve deep into potential employee’s private lives, and you have a recipe for blue-chip recruiters.

That’s precisely what blue chips like Pepsi, Oracle and GAP are now doing. These companies and ones like them are increasingly seeing Facebook as a hugely valuable tool in their recruitment armoury.

Companies are now able to capitalise on their brand ambassador’s page ‘likes’. Increasingly, specialist recruitment agencies are now emerging, such as Work4, who are specialising in maximising the recruitment opportunities across the leading social network. Work4 alone have now posted over 6 million jobs through the company pages of the blue chips mentioned. At the moment, the focus is on low paid but labour intensive jobs, but Work4’s CEO is confident that this is set to change.

The popularity of services like Work4 is now so high that Facebook themselves have been using the service to recruit. As a result, the 86 man company is now seeing monthly revenues double month on month and is set to make $10+ this year.

However, as news of Facebook’s ever more aggressive monetisation, allied with more press around data digging being done by multinationals, it raises questions over Facebook’s image once again.

The privacy issue is the bogeyman which refuses to go away for Facebook. Users are more sensitive than ever around their personal data online. Whilst this venture is a private company, it would not be a big stretch to see Facebook directly rolling out a LinkedIn competitor.

LinkedIn has been one of the more quietly successful social networks. It has now grown to the stage where a huge percentage of senior executives are now represented on the site. The opportunity to segregate one’s personal life verses their professional profile is one of the enduringly popular elements to LinkedIn, so the positioning and delivery of a Facebook LinkedIn would be crucial.

However, with their increasingly mature audience, Facebook is perhaps better placed than ever to go down this route. As the teenage early adopters begin to investigate social network Pasteur’s new – a problem that COO Sheryl Sandberg recently admitted – this is one way to mitigate the loss for the social network. Pure advertising alone is proving insufficient to boost the ailing stock, but a hybrid Facebook/LinkedIn model could reinvigorate the more corporate investors.

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