New Kid on the Block BranchOut Gives LinkedIn a Run For Its Money

by Mike Mintz on February 15, 2012 · 2 comments

in Legal marketing,Legal Technology,Professional Development

For all of us who use LinkedIn to expand our professional networks, there is a new kid on the block named BranchOut whose membership now numbers ten million registered users. BranchOut is a professional networking app built on Facebook which takes advantage of Facebook’s social network effect to reach hundreds of millions of users and, according to its CEO Rick Marini, double the number of users reached through LinkedIn.  The aforementioned ten million registered users have 300 million connections through their Facebook friends.

BranchOut’s app leverages the power of Facebook in the following manner: users signed up to BranchOut automatically have all of their Facebook friends placed into the BranchOut app’s database. This expanded network base has allowed BranchOut members and recruiters access to the connections of the registered users’ 300 million Facebook friends.

BranchOut’s app is brilliant.  Instead of building its audience from nothing, it has bypassed the problem altogether by piggy-backing onto Facebook’s 845 million users to quickly build its professional network.  Zynga, the social game maker, has used a similar approach to building its membership.

Does Facebook care about the success of companies like BranchOut? It sure does. Just look at Facebook’s much bally-hooed IPO. In its IPO documents, Facebook promoted the idea that it can serve as a successful platform for other companies. As just one example, Facebook takes 30% off of what Zynga makes using Facebook. That amounts to 12% of Facebook’s total revenue.  For a company the size of Facebook, that is not exactly chump change.

This does not mean that LinkedIn should be counted out just yet. The number of recruiters using LinkedIn to find job applicants jumped approximately 9% last year alone.  LinkedIn believes that it will continue to be a driving force in the professional networking arena because, it believes, most people want to keep their social and professional lives separate.  In other words, there is plenty of room for both Facebook and LinkedIn.

BranchOut’s CEO, not surprisingly, contends that this is a non-issue because BranchOut allows Facebook users to keep their social and professional lives separate. Its app allows Facebook users to create a separate professional profile to connect with professional contacts, companies and recruiters.

Only time will tell if BranchOut proves to be a colossus in the professional networking world the way LinkedIn is today.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

David wrote onFebruary 16, 2012 at 9:00 am

BranchOut seems to be motoring pretty well and in the Facebook business networking space they look to have BeKnown well beat at this stage. I think it’s in BranchOut’s hands right now, if they resolve the type of technical issues which plague at least some user accounts (my own is effectively unusable) I think they’re going to be massive. I’ve sunk a huge amount of time into BranchOut and certainly wish them all the very best.

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Victoria Ipri wrote onFebruary 16, 2012 at 8:09 am

Mike, if LinkedIn existed only to connect job seekers with jobs, I would say BranchOut is a hot competitor. But as we know, LinkedIn is far more than this and, so far, despite all the media hoopla about BranchOut, I just don’t see where they compete, unless we’re talking strictly number of members, which, in and of itself, proves nothing.

As a LinkedIn educator, trainer and mentor to B2B businesses interested in learning to leverage LinkedIn for lead generation, I see BranchOut as a completely different animal. No competition.

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