There’s an analysis report issued by eMarketer looking at the space of time between 2008 and 2012 that takes an educated guess as to what business-to-business marketing spending will look like in four years’ time in the US on social networks specifically. Its research estimates a total of $40 billion in the US this year. In 2012, meanwhile, it predicts more than 500% increase to $210 million.
That may be so. And of course there is only one way to find out. But the figures given are remarkably small. Which means that, if we arrive in 2012 with a B2B tally of $210 million, LinkedIn, Facebook and various other business-centric joints (E.Factor, FohBoh, etc., making up the niched trimmings), might have to look elsewhere to make good on their membership growth.
Demographically, Facebook is open to a much broader inflow of ad dollars, given its multifaceted design as a nexus for both casual users and and professionals. (Some of whom are one and the same.) LinkedIn, however, is less able to build on the portion it will presumably take from the $210 million pie – if indeed that figure does materialize. LinkedIn considers itself likely to register about $100 million in revenue by the end of this year. So whispers that Facebook will supplant its main business-level competition may in fact hold more credibility as the seasons pass. Money talks, right? Facebook is arguably in a better position in that respect. The question to ask then is: Will LinkedIn move ahead with the IPO that many analysts have been scratching for?
Of course, business networking is never going to reign larger than the MySpace class. Consumerism is generally what drives the market. But LinkedIn has to give investors something to look forward to. As do all Web companies of grand designs. Yes, its membership is quite valuable in and of itself. But that value has not been tapped in a way anything analogous to, say, Facebook’s expansion into third-party developerland with its Platform launch in 2007. LinkedIn more and more umph to stay ahead. How it manages to do that is the billion dollar answer.
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