LinkedIn comes calling to India

LinkedIn, the brianchild of Silicon Valley entrepreneur Reid Hoffman  has come calling to India, the world’s largest democracy. I cannot but muse at the perfect fit: a social media giant pledging its commitment to a country which has nearly a billion strong population with 70 per-cent of them within the age group of 30. Can it get any better for any social media brand?

Of course the hiccups are there. Starting from a mere 5 percent internet penetration to a largely skewed population which is using social media  (among the tier 1 metro cities), challenges abound, but Indians seem to have taken to this site with aplomb. According to comScore’s latest reports with nearly 2.5 million odd users and a growth of nearly 180 per-cent over last year, Indian’s are getting linked in with a vengeance.

And not surprisingly; India with its prodigal educated middle class has seen the benefits of business networking whether it be for searching jobs, or get connected to potential business partners, that this site offers.And if indications are anything then the user base is set to grow.

The power of any social media tool is how you can harness it the best to reach out to your preferred set of target audience and engage them in meaningful conversation, which is two way and offers room for collaborative creation. And if we go by examples, the proof points are there to see.

Whether it be IBM CFO Robert Parker whose blog www.cfospeak.com is connected to his LinkedIn profile, thereby creating a targeted community of just Indian  CFOs to engage in dialogue over a social media channel or The Economic Times, whose entire The Power of Ideas campaign is connected to their LinkedIn Group, Indian Entrepreneurs, Indian brands are waking up to the possibilities that LinkedIn has to offer.

To further elucidate the level of their commitment to India, Linkedin have roped in ex Googler, Deep Nishar whose work boasts of projects like Google maps and Orkut as Vice President of products and are currently scouting for a country manager, to lead India operations.

In a recent interview given to Business Standard, Deep further mentions, given India’s prolific mobile growth, how LinkedIn is looking forward to integarte itself with phone sets of companies like Nokia, who have a phenomenal market share in India.

The PR machinery is already in full swing. What remains to be seen, is how Indian brands take to LinkedIn as it ramps up its Indian operations. What kind of networks are formed and what campaigns roll out. How Indian advertisers  reacts to its reach and connectivity? And how much it can keep reinventing itself, given that stickiness is a problem when it comes to brand loyalty in case of social media networks?