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Facebook’s Shift to Professional Networking: Implications for Advertisers

Written by: David Noam, Marketing Intern

Millennial Branding, a fellow Boston-based company, released a study examining Generation-Y’s use of Facebook in relation to their careers — pooling information from 4M profiles. Although they report a low number of users leveraging Facebook as a professional tool, these numbers are on the rise — as is the amount of career information listed on Facebook as a whole.

With Facebook’s reach and continued growth in time spent on the site, some argue it could encroach on LinkedIn’s status as being the preeminent professional networking site. And as more people add career information on Facebook, there are undoubtedly implications for advertisers.

Gen Y & Their Careers on Facebook

  • 36% of the Gen-Y users on Facebook list their workplace on their profile, compared with 80% who list a school
  • Gen-Y members “friend” an average of 16 co-workers
  • Gen-Y members spend just over 2 years at their first job

Facebook has become an extension of a person’s life and personality — essentially their (controlled) online fingerprint. Why then are members of Gen-Y more reluctant to list their jobs on the social network than their schools? Lindsey Pollak, author of Getting from College to Career, suggests, “Gen-Ys want their jobs to feel like an extension of who they are. If it’s not a good extension of who you are, you’re not going to include it in a profile. Currently, we are seeing a decrease in available career type jobs, and users feel their current employment does not reflect who they are.” We suspect this generation to add more of this work information as they move from college and part-time jobs into more established professions.

Professional Shift to Facebook

While Facebook was originally created as a social network for friends, younger jobseekers are recognizing its huge potential as a professional networking site due to the sheer number of users and poor job market. Brendan Wallace, CEO of, estimates that there are 76M Facebook users in the U.S. under 30 — that’s compared to 5.5M on LinkedIn. The merge between the social and professional worlds can already be seen through the Gen Y’s average of 16 co-worker Facebook Friends. Wallace expects that within the next year we will see 50% of Gen Y users list their jobs on Facebook.

According to a survey by Jobvite, Facebook usage within the workforce grew 5% to 82% in 2011, while LinkedIn usage only increased 1% from 31%. Just as significant is the total number of Job Seekers with Facebook profiles compared to those with LinkedIn profiles:

In fact, according to the survey, 20% added professional information within the past year.

Advertising Implications

In addition to the trends in the reports above, we believe Facebook’s new Timeline layout will also result in more career information being shared on Facebook, as it encourages users to contribute more life events, such as career moves. Key to a successful Facebook campaign is the ability to deliver ads relative to the personal aspects of a users life, their job and career being one such aspect. More career information included by more Facebook users will enable greater reach and effectiveness when marketers advertise around this targeting parameter. As more and more of Gen-Y and professionals in general add their workplace and career information to Facebook, this information will become increasingly important to marketers.

Do you expect more professional information to be shared on Facebook? Could Facebook ever replace LinkedIn? Let us know in the comments!

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