Friday, October 24, 2008

LinkedIn B2B Surveys - Will They be Social?

LinkedIn yesterday announced a new service that enables market researchers and investors to conduct market intelligence research using LinkedIn’s network of over 30 million professionals worldwide, approximately half of whom are IT and business decision makers.The news was quickly picked up by numerous bloggers including Doug Caverly and Bill Holmes (an indication of how adept the PR folks at LinkedIn are with interactive PR).

Essentially, companies that want to conduct market research among difficult-to-reach B2B and IT decision makers will now be able to slice and dice profiles of LinkedIn's large member base to reach groups with very specific attributes. From the participant side, "LinkedIn members who participate in a survey can choose from a variety of rewards including gift cards from Amazon, Starbucks, Best Buy, or make a donation to charities."

This is all good—vendors can get valuable feedback from the right sample groups based on accurate LinkedIn profiles, LinkedIn gets another revenue stream, and participants get token rewards. But it seems to me there may be an opportunity missed here.

People join social networks for lots of reasons, but I've never of anyone joining for the purpose of collecting $10 gift cards or Starbucks coffee coupons. Among the top reasons people join are to get recognition and to form new relationships. Bloggers often join, for example, in order to both drive more traffic to their blogs and to connect with like-minded readers and other bloggers.

So...any company can spend some money on gift cards and use the new LinkedIn offering to collect market research data. But the really smart ones will find a way to tap the motivations of LinkedIn members and create a mutually beneficial social experience that provides not just data, but understanding.


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