Linkedin taking the traditional approach in Germany and why that will fail (as usual)
Update 2009-02-07: Video production manager Rob Getzschman mailed me yesterday about their updated version of the video, correctly titled “Cheesy LinkedIn German video updated” ;) I have included the new version below. The only change is a a new voice over for the small German part, but that already is an improvement. I leave my original notes below for reference, but have replaced the video with the newer version. Also I have added at the bottom a longer link list of German and English links for this topic. You should be able to use Google Translator or alike for easier reading.
Update: LinkedIn adds a more or less cheesy video named ‘next bus stop german’.
Cheesy because most people in the video do speak with accents, especially the voiceover. While this is not that bad and may sound like a good idea, mostly you hear these kind of voices on badly translated informercials. It reminds me of these because if you watch it (even as non German speaker), you will note that it shows nearly nothing – instead of featuring some of the great advantages Linkedin may have to the user, it just repeats over and over again the notion of “are you in yet??” and ‘available in German’.
Which might work if Linkedin was already very well known in Germany but as mentioned in my other postings: Germans only know about what they have read about before in traditional media. If you are not available in German media all the time (media, not blogs) people don’t know about you. And then you need to do more than just “are you in yet?”. :)
Oh and of course I am curious if anyone can tell me which discussion group on Linkedin this link leads to, as I see it in my referrers but cannot access it. ;)
(End of update)
TC UK writes about “LinkedIn launches German site to take the fight to Xing“, writing about the significant growth of Linkedin and how few users Xing basically has. Missing the point once again: Of course in the general world wide market Xing looses out to Linkedin, but in the German market, Xing is the 800 pound gorilla, period. Did you ever wonder why all these great numbers from sites like Linkedin and Facebook never included one of the biggest markets in Europe? Germany has 82 million people living there, with over 60% of the grownups being online on a regular basis and it just ticks different to what you might used to be. For example who cares if Linkedin can IPO at any time when all of my colleagues are on Xing? [This of course is relevant to a site like Techcrunch, but not to the users of the system].
Let me first go into the more general aspects before adding more information what Linkedin says in German about their market ideas.
Why Linkedin and other services will fail
There is a lot of potential, but you need to understand the market and its dynamics. Then again, you get the list of things users are not satisfied spoon fed. It is really hard to to miss them. Not just the general complaints, but the complaints of dedicated, active, paying members on Xing who are ready to jump the ship. Pick up those and you get a head start in the game. (Then again, that would be smart.) Traditionally there is a simple approach to the German market, and it is never is a clever one. Most of the time, they just make a translation and try to tell everybody how awesome they are everywhere else, as if this is enough.
It is not. Me and others often wonder if they will ever learn. Take Facebook: boosting about their successes everywhere (including Germany), they fail to mention that it may seem like a success to have 2 million Germans in Facebook already but at the same time other new networks like “Wer kennt Wen” (who knows who) gained several million new members. It is embarrassing for them to claim how awesome they are when everybody knows they are not. Strongholds like StudiVZ who *have* the German market for young people, may be in problem because Facebook is the superior platform and StudiVZ is indeed a complete copy of Facebook 1.0. The German translation is a good step in the right direction, but it is not enough to transport american mechanisms to a german market. Mind you I am saying this as somebody who never had a StudiVZ account and never will have one.
With StudiVZ, you have an inferior to ‘the real thing’. Not so with Xing and Linkedin. Xing despite its many, many weaknesses still offers me *far* more than Linkedin ever will. Starting with superior search, superior address information, superior contact information – I have yet to see any other contact information on Linkedin than the mail address. Have a look at my Xing profile and see everything underlined – while you can only search as a premium member, everything in there is clickable = searchable. What you don’t see is the amount of contact details I get offered as a user to give to my contacts. Best offers are another example. Yes, the network is predominantly German / European based, but with a country of this size, it is far from being relevant that there are not *that* many users from all over the world. And Xing is not even really good at it. To give you another example: in the beginning they did not want to have the localized events, it was the demand of the users that forced this into xing (the current ambassador model was born out of this).
There are thousands of people cursing about Xing every single day – but still would take it in a heartbeat because it is better. I have been paying member of Xing since I started using in in March 2004. If I had to choose today which one to loose, Linkedin would go out first. But Nicole, what about your business contacts in the international world? Simple. They are on Facebook and there I at least have the phone number. Before somebody comes to claim that Linkedin works differently and real professional networks have the CEOs etc of companies – who are you kidding? Show me 100 CEOS who are active on such a platform and I bet you that nearly all of them have their assistants do the job.
In the world wide game Linkedin most likely is the winner, for the German market Linkedin will never be more than a “I am also in there because I have international contacts” network, no way a complete replacement for Xing. Especially not if they do not have a look at their competitors and its weaknesses. I mentioned StudiVZ for a reason: They try to get the finished students into another network called MeinVZ (VZ stands for Verzeichnis = directory and Mein equals My). The path after StudiVZ is MeinVZ or (if you want to be more professional) it will be Xing. Even Facebook is exotic to many.
Where Linkedin and other services can succeed
People will not leave Xing. Period. They may leave the premium membership, but they will not leave the mother ship of all contacts, especially not since Xing has contact information and Linkedin has not. Stop acting as if that would be the goal. You will not be the only one. But it can be the better one.
What Linkedin can do is be a new / second home to the many frustrated members with Xing who will likely also bring on their friends and colleagues. Meaning especially all the group moderators who have been asking, begging for years for features and another place to call home while at the same time not being able to move – because Xing is the de facto standard. This group will make an extra effort to get people over, and even the only slightly frustrated once will start to also use Linkedin in hope that this will force Xing to finally innovate on the things the users really want – and not gadgets.
Similar to Facebook the better strategy would be to take a look at these people who are running local events, seminars etc, and heavily make use of groups and events. If they pack up their groups and move, others will follow. Want to know what they are not satisfied with? The moderator group is full of these threads, and members of the group even make lists and track promises from Xing support. The complain thread about the ‘new event model’ is 86 forum pages long.
People will use different tools for different reasons
Being an early adopter just means being ahead of the rest. My world is connected and does not differentiate between different platforms as much as I ask for the right tool for the job. There are many things I really like about Linkedin (like recommendations, telling people when to contact you, some of the applications) and things which are missing. As people do differentiate between private and business, companies like Linkedin and Facebook should join forces for a market like Germany (or at least make an alliance) and work together with companies like Plaxo or Amiando and others to push the envelope in a direction the customer would want to go.
That is what people will pay for. Even in Web 2.0
(If you can read German, these are the relevant articles for you, I tried to put together the relevant elements in English.)
FAZ: Google trends clearly shows Xing in the lead
The article “Linkedin bringt deutsche Version” shows a lot of the google trend graphics, of which the relevant is the for the German market.
Kevin Eyres, responsible for Linkedin in Europe says they want to get German content onto the pages and make partnerships with German publishers for local content and especially job offers. This is highly relevant as the Xing model is a very expensive one but with their matchmaking also a successful one.
Focus Online: Not buying or cooporating with Xing
In Focus Online (“Wir würden Xing nicht kaufen“) Eyres is quoted in the headline with “we will not buy Xing nor cooporate” and claims that rumors about Linkedin buying Xing where only distributed by Xing and do not hold any truth. They are only interested in globally acting and thinking important business people and don’t consider active members to be as relevant for their platform than “Xing needs them to be”. Which basically implies that normal folks do use Xing while real bosses use linkedin – to which I again bring up the point that really important people have ‘normal folks’ to do such tasks for them.
Turi2 (“Linked-In startet mit deutscher Version Frontalangriff auf Xing.“) is the major media news service and has a lot of interesting comments about the comparison of Linkedin / Xing, especially about the american ‘spirit’ coming into the German market.
Added Linklist from my German posting “LinkedIn versucht den Markteintritt (Reaktionen auf Englisch und auf Deutsch)“:
Additional english links:
- Guardian: LinkedIn continues European expansion with German launch
- Techcrunch: LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman: “We Can Go Public Any Time We Want To”
- Phillip Schilling: Where are you going, Xing?
- Will Big Fish In a Small Pond Survive?
- Can social software “work” in Germany?
- theinquirer: LinkedIn geht bewusst auf Xing los
- Achtung, Maybe? LinkedIn to Take on German Xing Network
- Pro Parkistan: LinkedIn.com – Fast Growing due to Global Recession
- crueltobekind: Linkedin taking the traditional approach in Germany and why that will fail (as usual)
- Wiwo: Linkedin-Angriff auf Xing "Es wird eine Weile dauern" (Interview)
- Netzzeitung: Xing bekommt ernsthafte Konkurrenz: LinkedIn vernetzt nun auch auf Deutsch
- heise: LinkedIn startet deutschsprachiges Angebot Meldung vorlesen und MP3-Download
- Golem: LinkedIn nun auch auf Deutsch – Nutzerzahl in Deutschland soll sich bis Jahresende auf 1 Million verdoppeln
- Manager Magazin: LinkedIn auf Deutsch – Neuanfang im "nuklearen Winter"
- W&V: Schlagzeilen LinkedIn lernt Deutsch
- ZDNet: LinkedIn startet deutschsprachige Plattform
- FTD.de: Angriff auf Xing Dossier Linkedin spricht jetzt Deutsch
- Futurezone ORD: Business-Netzwerk LinkedIn nun in Deutsch
- Meedia: Business-Network: Der Angriff auf Xing beginnt LinkedIn startet in Deutschland
- Netzwerte 09: Verliert Xing den Anschluss ans Web?
- Tapio Liller: LinkedIn: Eine Lokalisierung ist noch keine Markterschließung
- executivesearchconsultants: Launch Linkedin Deutschland – ca. 140 Jobangebote zum Start
- netzwertig: LinkedIn startet deutsche Version mit älterem Vergleich Xing vs.LinkedIn
- create or die: LinkedIn greift Xing an
- silicon.de: Xing-Konkurrent LinkedIn jetzt auch auf Deutsch
- pixelfol: Business-Netzwerk LinkedIn in deutscher Sprache
- Styropor: LinkedIn endlich in Deutsch
- weblike: LinkedIn.de – Xing Konkurrenz LinkedIn startet in Deutschland
- Blogwave: Ich war 5 Minuten LinkedIn Mitglied
- Sevenmac: Der Kampf ist eröffnet: LinkedIn spricht deutsch
- Digitalnext: LinkedIn startet nun auch deutschsprachige Plattform
- basicthinking Interview: Der neue Xing-Technikvorstand Michael Otto hat keine Angst vor Linkedin
- Handelsblatt Interview -LinkedIn-Chef: „Ich wäre gerne Barack Obama“
- Rivva search (german techmeme): Linkedin or Xing
- Techmeme search Linkedin or Xing
- Google Blogsearch (international): Xing or Linkedin
Tags: european view