Facebook Fights Back Against LinkedIn

A lot of excitement accompanied the initial public offering last month of LinkedIn, the “little site that could”.  This quiet giant suddenly hit the public discussion pool, despite having been mainstream as one of the largest social networks in existence.  LinkedIn, mostly populated by entrepreneurs and professionals, however, was not exactly the public commodity that Facebook has been.

Regardless, the business networking site is a real threat to Facebook’s virtual ownership of the social networking sphere.  So FB is fighting back.

A new Facebook app called BranchOut came alive last week,  in that time exploding from about 33,000 users to well over 800,000 and growing fast.  Could it kill LinkedIn?

It could give it a run for its money, at least.  BranchOut’s main advantage is that it’s riding on the Facebook platform, which has an estimated 700 million users worldwide.  It allows users of FB to have access to a business and professional networking service through their already-established Facebook account.

The little app startup has tried several schemes to get noticed over the past year or so, but only recently has it seen its userbase finally begin to go viral.  Mainly because it’s dropped the cheesy marketing attempts (things like “would so-and-so in your company be captain of your softball team?”) and redesigned itself to be more professional and (hence) useful.

In other words, the app changed its focus from lame “battle app with a professional twist” to “professional network plugin” and is now suddenly getting noticed.  All without any change in their marketing spending, according to the startup.

So how far will this app get?  It could go far, but only time will tell if it replaces LinkedIn as a professional networking option.  A few more functionality upgrades will be needed to do that completely, but for core networking, it’s definitely on the right track.

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