How LinkedIn built a Community of Half a Billion

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Traction Conference 2017 - Since its 2003 inception, LinkedIn has transformed from a networking hub to a beacon of economic opportunity for more than 500 million global members. Vice President of Growth at LinkedIn, Aatif Awan, will explore vital contributors to its growth at milestones throughout LinkedIn’s history, from product innovations and team structure to international expansion. Sharing key lessons learned through this journey, Awan will discuss LinkedIn’s alignment of growth strategy to company vision rather than metrics, and the impact this approach has had on attracting, retaining and servicing its more than half billion members.

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  • How LinkedIn built a Community of Half a Billion

    1. How LinkedIn built a Community of Half a Billion Aatif Awan Vice President, Growth & International Products at LinkedIn aatif_awan
    2. 201720162015201420132012201120102009200820072006200520042003 What was it like before LinkedIn?
    3. 1000x LinkedIn Grew from 500K to 500 Million in 13 years
    4. About me • VP Growth, International & Data products at LinkedIn • Have led LinkedIn growth for 6+ years, helping grow LinkedIn by 400M+ members • Leading LinkedIn-Microsoft product integrations aatif_awan
    5. Story of Growth @ LinkedIn
    6. Growth @ LinkedIn: 2003-2007 0.1M 2M 4M 8M 17M 2003200420052006200720082009201020112012201320142015 LinkedIn Member Growth Product market fit. Growth built into product from the start. Reid Hoffman and team invited well- connected people in the industry. Public profiles launch in 2006, became a second major growth channel due to SEO.
    7. Growth @ LinkedIn: 2008-2011 0.1M 2M 4M 8M 17M 33M 55M 89M 145M 2003200420052006200720082009201020112012201320142015 LinkedIn Member Growth Dedicated cross-functional growth team (~15 people) focused on acquisition. Identified drivers for key channels and optimized. International expansion. Saw 100%+ lifts in growth for most markets where we translated into local language.
    8. Growth @ LinkedIn: 2012- 2016 0.1M 2M 4M 8M 17M 33M 55M 89M 145M 202M 277M 347M 414M 484 M LinkedIn Member Growth Expanded to cover acquisition, activation, connections, retention and resurrection, notifications. Focus on quality: signups -> quality signups -> engaged quality members Invested heavily in mobile and partnerships and continued international expansion Continue international expansion with focus on China and India.
    9. Growth @ LinkedIn: What’s Next? Product integrations with Microsoft are the biggest growth opportunity
    10. Growth Team Organization Today Discovery (SEO) & Onboarding Network Growth Notifications & Communications Core Growth China India New Markets (Germay, Japan, Healthcare) International & Segment Growth Experimentation Reporting Standardization Data Products
    11. Principles vs. Tactics
    12. Ignore the hype about Growth Hacks and Tactics
    13. Focus on principles, not tactics • Principles >> Strategy >> Tactics • Tactics have a short shelf life. • If all you know are tactics, you will likely apply them incorrectly. • Once you understand the principles, you can find the right tactics and even come up with your own.
    14. What we’ve learned along the way
    15. Growth is about accelerating the realization of your vision, not moving metrics up-and-to-the-right. • At LinkedIn, our vision is to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. • Growth team accelerates this through creation of the economic graph that connects people, companies, jobs and schools. • Taking this view led us to focus on quality signups, not just signups
    16. Pick one North Star metric, measure everything • Define one north star metric that: • Is aligned with the success of your business • Measures value for users • Is summable • Sometimes, one is not possible. Go for as few as you can. • Measure everything and tie it back to the north star metric.
    17. Good product comes first, growth second • Investing in growth before you have a good product is a waste of resources. • Measure product goodness with long-term retention (curve should flatten over time) and through customer feedback • If your retention isn’t good, nothing else matters. Improve it by delivering core product value early and often. Good retention Bad retention %age of users engaging by weeks since signup
    18. But we needed to do more… • For products with network effects or marketplace dynamics (LinkedIn has both), you need to achieve a good product and growth simultaneously. • Products get better with more users and can be useless without a critical mass. • We solved for this by building two powerful growth engines from the start.
    19. Investing in multiple scalable growth channels multiplies your odds of success • Being dependent on a single growth channel is a strategic liability. • Have at least one core channel, invest in strategic channels like new platforms and have some venture bets. • We developed two core channels: Viral growth through members building their networks by importing contacts and SEO of people profiles.
    20. User Behavior Identifying Growth Channels • Do existing users share your product via word of mouth? • Are people using search to find a solution? • Do users have a high LTV? Channels to explore Virality, referrals SEO, SEM Paid acquisition • Does having more users improve the experience? Virality • Are your target users already on another platform? Partnership, Integration
    21. Channel Break down each Channel into Drivers Virality Drivers %age importing contacts, # of contacts imported, %age inviting, # of invites sent, CTR on invites, Sign up conversion Quality signup rate Measure everything and tie it back to the north star metric.
    22. Prioritize channels and drivers Brainstorm hypotheses and ideas Assess impact on north star metric Prioritize based on impact, probability of success and effort Build, A/B test and measure Growth Requires Continuous Prioritization and Feedback
    23. A/B Testing => Always Be Testing • The more you experiment, the faster you learn and innovate. • It can resolve long-disputed strategy questions and break down long-held myths. • You can A/B test most things • We’ve done statistically significant tests to measure impact on customer complaints on an issue with a volume of a few hundred/week • SEO A/B testing can be very effective • As your user demographics change over time, repeating old tests can lead to new insights.
    24. Hiring the right people • Analytical • Gets shit done • Curious – asks why? • Finds new ways to do things – asks why not? • Prior growth experience is optional
    25. Culture • Data trumps opinions • Set ambitious goals • Move fast • Learn continuously • Celebrate wins
    26. “Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth” Final thought I’d leave you with… Rumi
    27. Thank you! Aatif Awan Vice President, Growth & International Products at LinkedIn aatif_awan