Facebook continues to build new features and applications aimed at devouring the entirety of the internet.
Okay, maybe that’s a bit extreme.
But there is a kernel of truth to it! The social media giant recently rolled out a new Jobs feature that is aimed specifically at taking market share from current job listing frontrunner LinkedIn. This is an interesting move for Facebook, a company whose average monthly users already number in the billions.
After all, this is Silicon Valley, where prevailing wisdom dictates that those not growing are slowly dying. Social media companies are under direct pressure to follow that axiom because their profits depend on users spending time on the platform. As average users and usage times increase, a platform like Facebook can charge brands much higher rates to advertise. Therefore, features like Jobs (aimed at LinkedIn), Workplace (aimed at Slack), and Marketplace (aimed at eBay and Etsy) are likely to continue.
How Facebook Jobs Works
Businesses advertising jobs on Facebook will be able to list them on their page and also within the Jobs feed. A tab for this will be anchored on the left side of the Facebook home screen. Also, once applicants start rolling in, businesses can communicate with them directly through the Messenger app. This is important, as Messenger’s newly robust list of communication features includes document attachment, emojis, photos and videos, and even stickers. These aren’t advisable choices for all conversations with potential employers, but it gives both the business and the applicant more options for personalized dialogue. Also, businesses will have the option to boost their job advertisement just like they would any other post, allowing for improved targeting and more consistent results.
As with many of the other non-social (or less social) realms Facebook has infiltrated in recent years, the company will benefit from the rich trove of user information it has at its disposal.
For Jobs, Facebook uses that information to autocomplete the preliminary personal information you would typically be forced to fill out on a job application: name, cell number, email, education, employer info, etc. Even minor shortcuts like this go a long way towards influencing user behavior. The more users actually use the tool to fill out applications, the more businesses will deem it worth their time. Both of these things help Facebook charge more for both the services themselves and the advertising products that will go along with them.
Jobs, as its currently constructed, allows Facebook to attack two types of job applicants that are currently underserviced (or not serviced at all by LinkedIn): those looking for part-time and/or low-skill jobs, and those not actively looking for new jobs at all. Because of its focus on professional connections and careful resumé cultivation, LinkedIn hasn’t been all that valuable for lower-tier jobs. As for those not actively searching, a major reason for their passivity is often simply not having enough time after long hours at their current job. It doesn’t mean they aren’t open to a new job if they happen to come across one. Facebook wants to make it easier for businesses to make that ‘spontaneous’ connection occur.
Facebook’s VP of Ads and Business Platform Andrew Bosworth explained their decision to target this segment to TechCrunch thusly: “Two-thirds of job seekers are already employed. They’re not spending their days and nights out there canvassing for jobs. They’re open to a job if a job comes.”
Should LinkedIn Even Mind?
Yes, LinkedIn should be concerned about Facebook Jobs. Anytime a company so replete with resources and clout takes aim at your market share, it’s vital to take notice and react accordingly. Companies like Meerkat have found this out the hard way: no matter how charming the David’s can be, the reality is that Goliaths tend to come out on top.
On the other hand, Facebook’s decision to target lower skill level jobs may come as a relief for LinkedIn. After all, if widening their breadth of job types was a goal, they probably would have done something proactive about it by now. It may simply be the case that they will continue to go after the more professional sphere.
However, if that is the case, the microsoft-owned company may be concerned about an entirely separate trend. Many social media experts have noted a lightening of the content LinkedIn users are sharing. Ironically, this has been dubbed “Facebookification.” If that trend continues, and more LinkedIn users want to use the platform for informal communication as well, LinkedIn may regret losing the low skill-level portion of the market to Facebook.
As for Facebook’s plans moving forward, the continued rollout of new, identity-tweaking features will likely continue. Usage numbers for the rollouts that seem to mean the most to the company – Facebook Live and Messenger – continue to skyrocket. These foundational successes allow the company to be creative with its new endeavors. Things like Marketplace, Workplace, and Jobs all depend on users altering their initial perceptions of what Facebook is and can be.
Facebook’s immense user base will allow it to do deliver new job ideas – of all skill levels and industries – to more people than LinkedIn can. Or, if Facebook is unable to convince those users to merge the personal with the professional in high enough numbers, its Jobs feature may fade back into obscurity and LinkedIn will continue on with the steady, but not astronomical, growth it has seen since its inception in 2002.
As Jan Dawson, analyst for Jackdaw Research told the Washington Post, “This is something many people are going to be very uncomfortable with. Ultimately people are on Facebook to connect with their friends and to watch funny videos. They’re not there to apply for jobs.”
She may very well be proven right. But, with the rest of its house very much in order, Facebook is wise to take opportunities to try new things, hoping that one or some of them take off, and if nothing else learning new ways to grow.
Competitors be warned, Zuckerberg is coming for your market share.