Social Media

Social media can make your life more productive: LinkedIn

Adith Charlie Mumbai | Updated on August 08, 2014 Published on August 08, 2014

NISHANT RAO, LinkedIn’s country head for India

With over 27 million subscribers, India is the second largest market for LinkedIn after the US. Since starting its India unit five years ago, LinkedIn has grown its subscriber count by over 500 per cent here.

However, Nishant Rao, LinkedIn’s country head for India, is not resting on his laurels. “We are trying to transform the way companies work on hiring, marketing and sales,” the 35-year-old said. He was speaking on the sidelines of the ‘International Conference on Social Media Marketing in Emerging Markets’, organised by the Principal L.N. Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research in Bangalore recently. Edited excerpts:

LinkedIn currently has about 27 million subscribers. What is the next target?

While the target is to increase our subscriber base, we do not have a specific number in mind. There is a huge pool of working professionals in the country and that is essentially our target audience. At LinkedIn, the biggest question that we ask ourselves is whether people are getting full value from our platform. I think that consumer Internet companies are not doing as much as we should in terms of handholding and explaining the product, especially in emerging markets. So there is more work for LinkedIn to do in India.

In a recent case, Income-tax officials succeeded in using LinkedIn profiles of people working for a GE group subsidiary as evidence that their company was conducting activities that were not permitted, and that it owed taxes. Is that a first?

Governments are becoming smarter about how they can use social media in different forms and the episode that you have mentioned is an example of this. However, this is definitely not a regular occurrence. The beauty of LinkedIn is that you can have different user cases. I know of instances where people got funding for their ventures through connections on LinkedIn. While many use LinkedIn for hiring, there are others who use it for content management. Every user case is different.

One of the best kept secrets of social media is how users, many of them wannabe celebrities and brands, are buying contacts to boost their popularity in cyberspace. Doesn’t that create a problem for marketers?

Yes, it does create problems for marketers and that is why we rely on the network to report spam. Generally, the menace of paid contacts is a little less on LinkedIn because you are out there with your professional brands and if you do something which is not good, it affects your brand and revenue. The good thing is that there are robust ways for the network to report it, so that we can blacklist the offenders or take them of the network.

Wouldn’t LinkedIn proactively go after such accounts?

It’s hard to track what 27 million in India or 300 million globally are doing at any given point in time. Hence, we rely on the network to curate these activities. If a particular LinkedIn user has been reported multiple times, there is a good chance that he is just randomly spamming people. We will then restrict such accounts and educate them on why this has been done. We will give them one chance, but if it happens again, we will take them off the network.

Social media addiction, especially among youngsters, has become a cause for concern for sociologists and psychiatrists. What is your view on this?

Lets not forget that social media lends itself to meaningful interactions most of the times. We at LinkedIn have been trying to transform the way companies work on hiring, marketing and sales.

The important thing is to continue having relevant conversations and go from quantity to quality. Everything has a good side and a bad side. The millennial generation comes with a different mindset. What is relevant to them may seem like an addiction or be perceived as something negative by the previous generation. Is it wrong to play a game on social media instead of playing in the real world? I do not thing so.

Online games create a different sort of kinship and camaraderie among people. Thanks to social media, today’s kids are learning about financial discipline and the value of money.

I am an optimist and I would like to believe that social media can make your life more productive.

Published on August 08, 2014

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