LinkedIn vs. Doostang: Is Anyone Paying?

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Pay Here

Both LinkedIn and Doostang, Web 2.0 job/networking sites geared toward professionals, offer premium services.  My question is, who’s paying for them?

Unlike Doostang (of which I am a member but rarely use), LinkedIn offers more than enough free services to users that there is no real enticement to pay for more.

LinkedIn is passive in promoting it’s premium services.  The site has an “upgrade” feature under the Accounts and Settings tab, and a prompt to upgrade for accessing the rare profile that is a part of the premium groups.  However in the past two years that I’ve seriously used LinkedIn, there has not been anyone  I could not reach, or job information I could not access, using the standard free service.  In contrast Doostang is proactive, promoting its premium services through emails and at every click around the page.

The standard business model of Web 2.0 platforms is what has been to referred to as “Freemium”.  Freemium has been evangelized by Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, and was first articulated by venture capitalist Fred Wilson as such:

“Give your service away for free, possibly ad supported but maybe not, acquire a lot of customers very efficiently through word of mouth, referral networks, organic search marketing, etc., then offer premium priced value added services or an enhanced version of your service to your customer base.”

LinkedIn has four account types: Personal (free), Business ( $249.50/year), Business Plus ($499.50/year), and Pro ($4,999.50/year).

Doostang offers several premium rates: Three months for $35/month, six months for $30/month, and 12 months for $25/month.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being bothered with prompts to upgrade, or seeing semi-postings for jobs but upon clicking on the posting being asked to upgrade.  While Doostang does offer some open postings, the postings on LinkedIn are entirely so (as far as I’ve seen).

On one hand I feel that LinkedIn is giving away too much to make it’s premium services special enough to entice users to pay for more.  Why pay more when you’re giving me everything I want and need for free already?  I’ve found coupling email and real world contacts with the free services LinkedIn offers to be more than adequate to fulfill my networking needs.

On the other hand I don’t believe Doostang offers enough free services to build a following comparatively to LinkedIn.  Though this may be by design as it bills itself on catering to “elite professionals” (I’m honored).

It is not that I am dissatisfied with Doostang as much as the current membership model, especially with the down economy.  I believe in casting a wide net, and don’t believe Doostang adequately provides enough up front for me to even think of paying.

So for now I’m sticking with LinkedIn.

//A.J.

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3 Comments on “LinkedIn vs. Doostang: Is Anyone Paying?”

  1. linda says:

    yet another thing to put on my neverending to do list. GAH.

  2. Steven Chang says:

    As an fyi- here’s an year-old link (http://www.businessinsider.com/2008/6/linkedin-gets-its-1-billion-valuation-and-53-million-in-cash) on LinkedIn’s revenue breakdown: $25B comes from ads while the other $75B comes from some combination of premium subscriptions and recruitment tools. My guess is that most premium subscribers come from the sales/marketing field, where identifying and understanding leads is key. For the average person (like us), though, the free service suffices since we really only care about people that are separated by two or three degrees. If we had to pay for the current level of services, we’d probably just switch to another alternative, harming LinkedIn’s stature among advertisers and recruiters.

    Doostang is a completely different animal. Having used them for about two years, it seems like their leadership took a different approach in order to get more money. Instead of being a premium site with “select” members and “select” jobs (they actually used to have quality postings), it’s become a spam site where you have to pay to see “select” jobs.

    You could also extend the question to Facebook, Twitter, and other networks: should they be charging for more functions? Would it be worth it or would people just switch to another social networking tool (R.I.P. Friendster)?

    Steven

    • A.J. says:

      That’s what I figured Steven. The Business Plus and Pro level rates seemed a bit much for a regular user, though I could see headhunters and HR departments utilizing it. I think we got on Doostang around the same time, around senior year. I agree it had great offerings but I think the elite/select model, at the entry level, even for supposedly “elite” undergraduates is faulty. I would say focusing at the c-suite level, like at vistage would mesh better with Doostangs model. The incomes (and willingness to pay) at the entry level aren’t there to sustain a site focused on premium content.


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