10 things: 10 things LinkedIn won’t tell you

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Personal finance reporter

1. We say social network, you say jobs site

LinkedIn LNKD, -1.95%  shares plummeted in after-hours trading Thursday after the company released a second-quarter earnings outlook that disappointed the market. The company’s first-quarter loss widened to $43 million versus $13.5 million a year earlier, although revenue of $637.7 million was up from $473 million a year ago.

The company has something of an identity problem, experts say. It markets itself as a “social network and online platform for professionals” and is often mentioned in the same breath as Facebook FB, -2.11%   and Twitter TWTR, +1.22%  , but analysts say that it’s more of a traditional jobs site than a social network. Indeed, many people spend time rejecting “I’d like to connect” invitations from total strangers.

“It’s not a social network at all,” says Jeremy Roberts, editor of SourceCon, a blog and conference series for recruiters. “You’ve got Facebook for family, Twitter for reading the news and sharing opinions, and LinkedIn for work. But LinkedIn is not a social network.” He compares it to a jobs board such as Monster.com, CareerBuilder or Glassdoor. “It’s more of a human resources tool serving corporations rather than consumers,” Roberts says.

A jobs site doesn’t earn as much money from advertisers as a social network. In recent earnings statements, LinkedIn has said that around 60% of its revenue comes from “talent solutions” where recruiters and corporations pay to engage with potential talent. In contrast, Facebook–whose membership and total revenues and profits are considerably higher than LinkedIn’s–gets around 90% of its revenue from ads.

Others say LinkedIn — which has over 350 million members worldwide, up nearly 17% from a year earlier, more than 100 million of which are in the U.S. — meets the definition of both a social network and jobs site, as people join online groups within their industry and keep tabs on professional contacts. “You might be looking for a job, but we want to be able to give our members the tools to be better at their job as well,” says Crystal Braswell, a spokeswoman for LinkedIn. Sharing volunteer work, blogging on LinkedIn’s publishing platform and/or promoting causes close to your heart might bring you to the attention of a hiring manager, she says. “It’s not just about the skill fit, but also about the cultural fit,” Braswell adds.

Read: ‘Facebook at Work’ targets Google and LinkedIn

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