Business social networks

    We examined the 14 most interesting business social networks that can interest a domestic user. 12 of them have a Russian-language interface, 3 - are focused on the Ukrainian online community.

    The rapid development of business social networks has finally reached the Russian-language segment of the Network. If several years ago in RuNet social resources of the “easy genre” reigned supreme, today we are witnessing a cardinal change in the situation: dozens of new projects aimed at the business community are appearing on the market. There are several reasons for this, the main of which we would call personnel shortage. Subsequently, this factor was supplemented by an economic crisis, which has fallen on edge, and has become a catalyst for the development of business Internet communications. Many companies have finally realized that the Network can serve as an effective business tool. Yes, and recruitment agencies have tacitly agreed that recommendations on business social networks are not inferior in importance to ordinary "recommendation letters."

    At the same time, it should be noted that the development of social Russian-language business resources is at an embryonic level. To date, no project can come close to the international leader - LinkedIn. In addition, neither the Russian nor Ukrainian business communities can gain a sufficient user base for the effective functioning of the network. The example of Ukraine in this regard is more indicative: about a year ago, the business social network Profeo appeared on the market, which, despite its very decent functionality and promotion strategy, was not able to attract a critical mass of users from all sectors of Ukrainian business. However, this does not mean at all that such projects can be classified as “stillborn” - on the contrary, many of them have occupied their niche by rallying a certain category of participants (for example,

    I’m looking for a partner, a good partner!
    (Gleb Zheglov)

    imageThe LinkedIn social network is an ideal example of an impeccably calibrated market strategy superimposed on a “network” concept. Originally created to help recruitment agencies, the social network has grown into a huge community of professional employees and recruiters. LinkedIn's commercial success is a natural consequence of a competent approach to building a network and monetizing traffic.

    For the end user (a professional in their industry, not a casual passerby), LinkedIn is an ideal base for establishing / maintaining contact with colleagues and, of course, finding an employer. First of all, it should be noted a well-thought-out system of recommendations that allows you to quickly assess the professional qualities of the candidate, based on the opinions of his partners and colleagues.

    It must be emphasized that LinkedIn was able to attract an incredibly “high-quality” audience to its networks. So, among 39 million users (this number increases by 1-1.5 million every month), there are more than one and a half million top managers. It is noteworthy that the top managers of all Fortune 500 companies are registered on LinkedIn. According to representatives of the social network, 46% of community users are directly responsible for making decisions in their companies. These indicators can be called phenomenal - not a single competing social network managed to gather such a homogeneous and high-level audience.

    The basic functionality of the network is provided free of charge, however, you will have to pay for additional services. A business class account will cost the user $ 24.95 / month (or $ 249.5 / year), and the “Business Plus” level is paid at the rate of $ 49.95 / month (or $ 499.5 / year). In addition, LinkedIn also offers an elite account “Pro”, intended, apparently, for professional headhunters ($ 499.95 / month or $ 4999.5 / year). Differences between paid and basic accounts are mainly in search and communication capabilities, as well as more operational technical support. LinkedIn also willingly collaborates with advertisers, although advertising in the network interface is strictly metered.

    An important milestone in the development of the project was a partnership agreement with IBM, as a result of which LinkedIn services will be integrated with Lotus Notes, Lotus Connections and the recently launched

    In my opinion, the LinkedIn project is one of the few who are destined not only to painlessly survive the difficult economic period, but also to get out of it "in the black." Unlike most “emotional” projects, LinkedIn users clearly know what benefits (other than ephemeral) provide them with social network membership. Professionalism is always valuable.

    imageXing's business social network was initially targeted at the German market, but quickly gained international status. Today, Xing has more than 7 million registered users, and the interface has been translated into 16 languages ​​(including Russian). Network membership is open to all comers, paid accounts are also available, which are distinguished by the absence of advertising, advanced search capabilities and a service that allows you to track profile visitors. When you purchase a paid account for 3 months, the monthly subscription will be 6.95 euros; for a year - 5.59 euros, for two years - 4.95 euros.

    Despite the considerable number of users, Xing loses significantly to LinkedIn in terms of reaching its audience, including the Russian-speaking one. Nevertheless, this network is mainly oriented to the Western European market, which reflects the social section of its participants. In mid-April, Xing announced the expansion of functionality: the project database was updated with information about 100,000 companies, professional associations and public organizations. The Xing social network can be used as an addition to existing accounts on other resources - this is a powerful tool for working with the Western European market, but it still cannot replace LinkedIn and / or local projects.

    imageThe English-language business social network Ryze has more than 500,000 users in 200 countries, but it is not very popular among the Russian-speaking audience. However, this does not detract from its main advantages - a wide base of potentially useful foreign contacts and a well-designed interface. The basic level of membership in the network is free, but there are paid accounts of the Gold class ($ 10 / month) and Platinum ($ 20 / month), which provide more opportunities in terms of creating your own "business circles" and communication between community members.

    Currently, more than 1000 companies have used Ryze services to create their own internal corporate social networks, which indicates the prospects of this segment. Ryze has no doubt about the successful future, because the founder of the network, Adrian Scott, had previously been an investor in the legendary Napster and collaborated with giants such as Charles Schwab and Bank of America. In addition to income from paid membership in the network, Ryze earns money on organizing events and, of course, placing contextual and banner advertising.

    imageOne of the oldest Russian business networks is currently going through hard times. A frankly outdated interface, poor functionality, unclear development directions - all this led to the fact that E-xecutive ceases to be perceived by the audience as an "elite" community, as it was before. At the same time, the existing E-xecutive resource does not allow to discount this project. So, as of April 2009, 196007 people were registered in the community, which is a very worthy indicator for such a resource. According to project managers, all members of the E-xecutive community meet certain professional requirements (middle / senior managers or qualified professionals with 4-5 years of experience) and speak under real names. Average age of the audience of the resource: 25-45,

    If we talk about structuring the audience of the community, then the five most popular sectors are: Consulting, Information Technology, Consumer Consumer Goods, Distribution, Wholesale and Retail. We are deeply convinced that, with competent leadership, this resource could become a clear leader in the Russian-language segment of business social networks and pose a real threat to LinkedIn, but at the current stage of development we do not see any prospects for E-xecutive.

    imageThe Russian social project with fanfare opened in the summer of 2008 - and since then has caused a lot of gossip in the online community. We will not review the business opportunities of the community, but touch on its policies. The first scandal erupted almost immediately after the start of the resource - with the naked eye it was clear that the design of the portal and its navigation system were completely “borrowed” from the undisputed world leader - LinkedIn. As a result, in the fall of 2008, LinkedIn, through its partner law firm Gowlings, demanded to stop using plagiarism - and after two months the site design was still changed. It's funny that to the journalists' questions about the ethics of plagiarism, Nikita Khalyavin, the project manager, replied that LinkedIn's copyrights were not violated, because on “all copyrights have been fixed”.

    After some time, the resource turned out to be involved in a new scandal: it turned out that when trying to find registered colleagues by providing the service access to their address book, the administration of the resource sends invitation letters to all the addresses found on behalf of the account owner. Mr. Halyavin’s response to the IT Business week request turned out to be very entertaining: “Roman, I’m happy to justify our policy. So, for example, today we received a number of thanks for notifying people about this. People have the right to know where and why their contacts go. ” With other indignant users, Mr. Halyavin was not particularly ceremonious (vocabulary and spelling preserved): “Drop provocations. Or do you belong to those few people from all 100,000 who decided to simply PR due to our function, with which they themselves agreed ?? I told you everything. If you don’t like using the service, don’t use it. ”

    imageCurrently, My Circle is under the wing of Yandex, and the monthly audience of the resource has reached 2.8 million visitors (data for March 2009). At the same time, “My Circle” cannot be called a business social network in the full sense of this definition - the business functionality of the resource is minimized. So, there are no forums and discussion groups, out of the usual capabilities of business networks, only the “recommendations” function has remained. However, close integration with other Yandex services and a solid user base make My Circle a good tool for headhunters.

    We do not recommend using this resource as the only means for online socialization, but keeping your profile up to date will not be superfluous. In our opinion, this project is almost the only one among all Russian resources (with the exception of E-xecutive) that can compete with LinkedIn, however, this requires a fundamental change in the “business” functionality of the social network. It is surprising that this has not been done so far, because the basic elements are the same for almost all social resources of a business orientation. Perhaps Yandex has its own plans for the development of this project - but today the business niche is the only one in which My Circle can really gain a foothold.

    imageThe business network “Russian Business” is one of the sections of the portal , intended, according to its creators, for a “wide office audience”: specialists, middle managers, managers at any level. Paying tribute to the very high level of the portal itself, we, unfortunately, cannot positively assess the functionality of the RB business community. First of all, the interface with an appallingly low level of usability is causing complaints. As a result, the resource cannot boast of an acceptable user base, and the site simply emits emptiness. The best evidence of this is Interest Clubs, the most popular of which has only 151 entries. Professional forums are also in ruins: in the most “active” thread, we found only 104 topics.

    Thus, “Russian Business” can be considered solely as an appendage to the main sections of the portal. We would not recommend RB for communication and searching for new contacts - the audience of this resource is too limited.

    imageThe developers of the PRO2 business social network focused on the ranking of specialists within the industries. According to the owners of the resource, this functionality allows you to instantly choose for yourself the most respected specialists in the right industry in any region. According to the press service of PRO2, the rating of specialists is formed on the basis of data on how many people included this or that specialist in the “Personal TOP” in each industry, i.e. the more professionals believe that a specialist is one of the best in his industry, the higher his rating.

    Such a scheme, of course, has a right to exist, but when it is put into effect from the very beginning of the project’s functioning, the resource physically cannot gain a critical mass of users for effective functioning. That is why, after a long time after the launch of PRO2, this network cannot demonstrate the proper level of popularity. According to IT Business week, the total number of resource users does not exceed several thousand, which is a ridiculous figure by today's standards. Unfortunately, we do not see any major changes in the development of the resource, the last entry in the developers blog was made on July 21, 2008, which indicates a complete loss of interest in the project.

    imageAn extremely interesting Russian startup owned by the state-owned Rossiya television channel has several thousand users in its ranks, despite the status of the beta version. The Vesti.Konsultant network, according to its creators, is intended for the exchange of information about goods and services, as well as experience in their use. Obviously, this project goes beyond the framework of the classic business social network, but there is no doubt that it appeared at the right time and in the right place. The logic of networking is as transparent as possible: registered participants are divided into “users” and “consultants” (representatives of companies offering goods or services). Connections between them are built on the same principles as in all social networks: an interested client / supplier can be offered “friendship”.

    Most likely, the monetization of the project will be carried out precisely at the expense of the "consultants", but now there is no open information on charging a fee for the "platform" for the provision of services. The disadvantages of the resource include a very leisurely work of the site, however, this defect can be attributed to the costs of beta testing. Otherwise, “Vesti.Consultant” is a fundamentally new platform that extends the possibilities of online business communication to real transactions.

    imageFormally speaking, VShtate is not a full-fledged business social network, however, we decided to consider this resource due to its close integration with the leader of the Russian-language social media market VKontakte. So, VShtate is the largest Russian-language database of professional contacts, the number of which has already exceeded 2.5 million. At the same time, the creators of the resource claim that 750,000 resumes were manually checked by moderators. In order to clearly distinguish the target audience between VKontakte and VShtat, the latest project has minimized the social functionality of the network: it is designed to find work / personnel - and nothing more.

    It should be noted the excellent interface of "VShtate" - perhaps, by this criterion, the resource has no worthy competitors. We would not want to rely on the fact that the project will acquire social functionality over time - in this case, of course, it will be able to outshine LinkedIn in the Russian-speaking market, but a serious outflow will occur with VKontakte, despite the positioning of the resource. So, VShtate is destined to remain an ideal tool for staff selection - and for communication and exchange of experience it is better to find a more suitable option.

    imageWe considered this resource specifically as an instructive example for everyone who believes that a business social network is a "self-organizing" phenomenon, for which it is enough to provide a technical platform. The interface of the ProfiLink site is largely borrowed from LinkedIn, however, this has already become a good tradition for some Russian-language resources. The basic functionality of the project is implemented at a sufficient level: some services still do not work or give an error message, but the overall impression is moderately positive. And now the most interesting: the volume of the ProfiLink user base is already ... 85 people, including your humble servant. Note, for completeness, that the project has existed since 2007. What is the reason for such a resounding failure? Apparently, in the complete absence of a marketing budget (and indeed a budget in general). One gets the impression that one sensible programmer worked on the project, who, after completing the technical part, kicked his legs and began to wait for an influx of visitors. Well, the result is obvious.

    imageProfeo Ukrainian business social network was opened in April 2008. The strategic investor of the Ukrainian project was the Polish company Profeo.PL, successfully operating in the local market. Even at the time of launch, Maxim Nemesh, Director of Profeo Ukraine, stated: “Until now, Ukraine has not had a social network with a full range of services for the career and professional development of a specialist. We expect that Ukrainian professionals will come to Profeo who seek to expand their social circle and actively use the Internet. Here they will not only acquire a dynamic online resume and address book, but will also communicate with colleagues, raising their professional level. ”

    A year later, we can conclude that the project management projections came true only partially. Profeo really managed to gather a wide circle of specialists, but the vast majority of network participants represent the media market segment (media, PR). However, among similar Ukrainian projects, we consider Profeo a well-deserved and unconditional leader. To increase the interest of users in the resource, the most active visitors are invited to join the "Profeo Club" - a kind of closed community with special benefits for its members. All services Profeo, recall, remain free. Such a business model cannot but impress - especially against the backdrop of deplorable attempts to monetize some Russian and Ukrainian social projects.

    imageThe Internet club of top managers "I TOP" has been operating for about a year - during this time about two thousand users have joined the project. On the one hand - a ridiculous figure, on the other - the authors of the project guarantee the most “high-quality audience”. The user agreement states that only a top manager can become a member of the club (“sympathizers” and other elements remain as spectators). “Typical positions related to senior management are taken as a basis. The exceptions are some managerial positions that are not included in the list of typical, but in terms of importance certainly relate to the TOP appointments, ”the criteria are quite clear, despite the apparent ambiguity of interpretation. The fact that the profile of each new user is manually checked also speaks about the seriousness of the intentions of “I’m TOP”, which can last up to 10 days. Despite the modest user base, we see a definite future for this project - if the club manages to attract a critical mass of top managers, it has every chance of becoming a unique phenomenon in the vast Ukrainian segment of the Network.

    imageThe first Ukrainian business social network Atlaskit was founded in 2006, but for a number of reasons its development has been slowed down almost from the moment it was opened. Today, the number of registered users of Atlaskit barely exceeds 1000 - this is modest, even by the standards of a niche project. The Atlaskit credo does not tell us anything new: “We are not building a club for communication or a social network of acquaintances, we are building a serious business network. However, in order to build a business relationship, you need to gain each other's trust on a personal level before entering into a deal or building cooperation. Our Network does not sell contacts or advertise people, we help you create for yourself groups of people with whom you can communicate, help them, and who one day can help you. ”

    This set of template phrases was relevant a little ago, but today, when users are fed up with social projects, it would be worth offering them something more original. Given the funding and competent leadership, Atlaskit can rise from the ashes - despite the coma state of the project, we assess its potential as very good.

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