Professional network LinkedIn has smashed Wall Street expectations once again with its third quarter results, booking a profit in stark contrast to a loss this time last year. The company turned over $2.3 million in the July – September period, boosting share prices by 2 cents. LinkedIn has consistently outperformed Wall Street projections every single quarter since its initial public offering in May 2011, during which time stock prices have more than doubled.
LinkedIn has undergone a number of changes in recent months, including a website redesign which saw traffic to the homepage go up a whopping 60% in the third quarter. Official company pages were also revamped with a new visual focus, including more prominent status updates which encouraged engagement. Facebook-esque cover photos are now a central component in corporate pages, the branding benefits of which were outlined in a post on the official LinkedIn blog: “We know a picture is worth a thousand words, so we’ve provided companies with the ability to easily add an image that best represents their company and brand. Like the photo on a member’s profile, this image helps companies establish their identity on LinkedIn.”
A particularly interesting new feature is LinkedIn’s “thought leader” platform, which for the moment consists of the 150 most influential individuals on the network, ranging from Richard Branson to Barack Obama. These contributors have been invited to share their “unique knowledge and professional insights” in blog posts and articles on business, social media and professional relationships. Anyone interested in becoming a LinkedIn influencer can apply at http://partner.linkedin.com/influencer/
The network now has over 187 million members and has been described by Macquarie Research analyst Tom White as “firing on all cylinders”. LinkedIn makes its money partially from premium accounts and specialist recruitment services, but primarily from advertising. The level of demand for advertising currently exceeds what LinkedIn can offer, and advertising revenue rose by 60% to $64 million in the third quarter.
CEO Jeff Weiner is also pleased that people seem to be spending more time on LinkedIn: “Member page views grew 44 percent, well in excess of unique visitor growth, indicating that members are becoming increasingly active on LinkedIn.” This growth can be attributed to a number of applications which have been rolled out across mobile and tablet devices. In a statement, Weiner said: “The last few months mark the most significant period of product development in the company’s history. This accelerated pace of innovation is fundamental to our goal of driving greater engagement on the LinkedIn platform.”
LinkedIn is forecasting revenue of up to $275 million for the present quarter. As the switch to mobile realizes over the next months, it will be critical for LinkedIn to keep working on not only its user base but also its engagement, and consequently, monetization strategies.