Thursday, September 27, 2007

LinkedIn Introducing Photos...Seriously?

So this morning I open up my Google Reader to find a few articles about LinkedIn introducing photos starting tomorrow, Sept. 26. After blinking a few times to check whether or not my coffee had kicked in properly, I read the articles to discover a little more about the rationale behind this latest move by the professional networking site.

First off, LinkedIn is stipulating that the photos be "serious-looking" headshots...the kind that you normally see accompanying executive bios. Apparently the suits at LinkedIn are worried about degrading their website and taking away from the professionalism.

Second, it appears that LinkedIn is taking some measured steps towards opening up their site to the development community. But, much like the photo feature sounds like this is not going to be anywhere near the open community that the Facebook platform has created. Moreover, this initiative isn't going to see the light of day until Spring 2008.

With all this said, here's my take on this whole thing. The "serious" photos? How can one NOT think that this is a deliberate step towards creating a more sticky website in response to Facebook's growing popularity amongst the tech illuminati? LinkedIn's PR reps can talk all they want about how this is not in response to Facebook's increasing web presence, but I'm more than a little skeptical given the fact that LinkedIn's own co-founder (Reid Hoffman) said in August that "photos and business don't go together." Huh? What's with the turn around?

And from early indications, I'm not a huge fan of LinkedIn's cautious approach towards drawing in the development community through its site. If the new web has proven anything, it's that the sites which leverage crowdsourcing tend to flourish and grow beyond even the founder's expectations. Why? Because they're engaging. They're sticky. You need to be sticky if you're a networking site.

Like I've been ranting for a while now, LinkedIn needs to be a little more innovative and a little less serious if it intends on being around for the long haul. While these latest developments are a step towards that, I still feel like they're moving too slow while their competition moves a lot faster. With Facebook adding 200,000 users per day compared with 36,000 for LinkedIn, each day literally counts.

For right now, I'm leaning towards Facebook winning this war. There. I said it. ;p But LinkedIn still has some time to change my mind. Hopefully they do.

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