Green Thumb Sprouts LinkedIn Community
January 15, 2009
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
Crane has one of the hottest jobs in Silicon Valley. The 36-year-old
is the vice president of marketing for LinkedIn, the red-hot social
networking site that helps individuals find like-minded professionals
they can network with to share ideas, solve problems, identify
business opportunities and advance their careers.
View, Calif.-based company was founded in 2003 and is backed by
a blue-ribbon suite of venture capital firms including Sequoia
Capital, Greylock Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners. Netscape
founder Marc Andreessen, Excite founder Joe Kraus and PayPal co-founder
Peter Thiel are all investors.
LinkedIn in June 2007, Crane has been on a mission to connect
the world’s career-minded individuals into one global online
community. Under Crane’s guidance, the LinkedIn network
is increasing rapidly, from approximately 13 million when he arrived
to 31 million today. He aims to increase membership to 50 million
in 2009 and to have 50% of the world’s 350 million white
collar workers as LinkedIn members by 2012. “We have one
new professional signing up every second,” he says.
LinkedIn from Yahoo’s Network Division where he was vice
president of marketing. Crane was instrumental in growing Yahoo
Answers—the community-driven knowledge site that lets users
submit practical, real-world questions and get answers from other
community members—into the Web’s No. 1 Q&A site.
electronic green thumb also helped Yahoo Mail become the top Web
mail provider. Before that, he helped mobile telecommunications
provider Vodafone grow its instant messaging business.
Crane relies on blogging, public relations, partnerships and product
innovation to build awareness, knowledge, engagement and, ultimately,
participation for LinkedIn.
are not the eighth-largest corporation in America,” Crane
says, “but we do have the eighth most-read blog (blog.linkedin.com).
We invest heavily in content. We make the blog a useful resource
for journalists who we want to cover our product. That’s
why we get quoted in the press.”
inked a deal last September to provide CNBC content to LinkedIn
users. The arrangement includes plans for joint product development,
and inclusion of LinkedIn community-generated content and surveys
to be broadcast on CNBC. For example, LinkedIn members were polled
on whether their job security has been impacted by current economic
conditions. More than 27,000 LinkedIn users responded, with the
results broadcast extensively by CNBC. The result was a major
brand boost for LinkedIn at a low cost.
Crane is also
teaming creatively with advertisers. “Banana Republic isn’t
simply advertising on LinkedIn. By updating your LinkedIn profile,
you can get 25% off your next purchase at Banana Republic and
a chance to win a $1,000 wardrobe in a sweepstakes,” he
says. His point: Advertisers are integrating and helping to grow
rolled LinkedIn into Spanish markets, he created a video with
LinkedIn executives speaking Spanish. The official video was viewed
15,000 times. The blooper reel, filled with outtakes, was posted
to the Web and got far more hits and built the brand.
more than help LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and CEO Dan Nye expand
the LinkedIn community. He’s applying classic four P’s
marketing to support the entire enterprise.
a joke in Silicon Valley that technology marketers only use two
P’s. At LinkedIn, we’re using all four,” Crane
marketers have a say over promotion and input on price but rarely
get involved in product development and distribution. That’s
not the case at LinkedIn. Crane’s marketers are full members
of the management team, sitting shoulder to shoulder with the
Crane is proud
of the fact that every Fortune 500 company has LinkedIn members.
“Enterprises have to solve problems. Within a company, someone
five cubes away may have the answer but they don’t know
each other. Microsoft has 80,000 employees with LinkedIn profiles.
Big corporations are looking for ways to spread knowledge faster,
wider and more efficiently,” Crane says.
While he admires
social networking site Facebook, he sees LinkedIn in a separate,
more focused competitive category. “I think mode matters,”
Crane says, suggesting Facebook is about play and social interaction
and LinkedIn is about work and getting things accomplished in
our day jobs.
has tremendous reach, but the intent is different,” he says.
“You go to Facebook to interact, to be social, to share
photos, to play games. They’re almost the complete opposite
of LinkedIn, which is about getting something done professionally.”
trying to advance your marketing career in these challenging economic
times, Crane has five points of advice that work for him:
Be a Passenger. Too many marketers go along for the
ride. Set your career direction and lead. Don’t wait for
things to happen.
a Marketing Evangelist. Let your passion for the business
out. Be borderline crazy if necessary, but show your advocacy.
Outside the Four Walls. Meet with customers, channel
partners, experts. Get into the marketplace. Get beyond the
physical boundaries of your company offices.
Outside the Country. Growth is happening in India and
China. Tomorrow’s marketers can’t focus solely on
the United States.
Have Reasons Not Reactions.
Build a fact base and have reasons for your recommendations.
has an intensely serious job, he is thoughtful, approachable and
down to earth. He is a high-energy person who likes to bike, motorcycle,
sail, snowboard, scuba dive, kayak and surf.
With all the opportunities for growth, Crane lives by one mantra—ruthless
prioritization. “It’s so tempting to just rush in
and do. You’ve got to make sure the fundamentals are absolutely
where you want them. You’ve got to be focused. You’ve
got to have ruthless prioritization.”
Krauss is president of Market Strategy Group, based in Chicago,
and can be reached at Michael.Krauss@Mkt-strat.com