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How LinkedIn built a Community

of Half a Billion

Aatif Awan
Vice President, Growth & International Products at LinkedIn
www.linkedin.com/in/aatifawan

aatif_awan
2004
2005
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2003
2016
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2007
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2015
2006

What was it like before LinkedIn?


LinkedIn Grew from 500K to 500 Million in 13 years

1000x
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

www.linkedin.com/in/aatifawan
aatif_awan
Story of Growth @ LinkedIn
Growth @ LinkedIn: 2003-2007
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.
17M
4M 8M
0.1M 2M

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Growth @ LinkedIn: 2008-2011
LinkedIn Member Growth

Dedicated cross-functional growth team


(~15 people) focused on acquisition.

Identified drivers for key channels and


optimized.

145M International expansion. Saw 100%+ lifts


89M
in growth for most markets where we
55M translated into local language.
33M
17M
4M 8M
0.1M 2M

2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Growth @ LinkedIn: 2012- 2016
Expanded to cover acquisition, activation,
LinkedIn Member Growth
connections, retention and resurrection,
notifications.
484 M

414M
Focus on quality: signups -> quality
347M signups -> engaged quality members
277M

202M
Invested heavily in mobile and
145M
partnerships and continued international
89M expansion
55M
33M
0.1M 2M 4M 8M 17M
Continue international expansion with
focus on China and India.
Growth @ LinkedIn: Whats Next?

Product integrations with Microsoft are the biggest growth opportunity


Growth Team Organization Today
International &
Core Growth Data Products
Segment Growth

Discovery (SEO) &


China Experimentation
Onboarding

Network Growth India Reporting

New Markets
Notifications &
(Germay, Japan, Standardization
Communications
Healthcare)
Principles vs. Tactics
Ignore the hype about Growth Hacks and Tactics
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.
What weve learned along the way
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
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.


Good product comes first, growth second
Investing in growth before you
have a good product is a waste of %age of users engaging by weeks since signup
resources.

Measure product goodness with


long-term retention (curve should Good retention
flatten over time) and through
customer feedback

If your retention isnt good, Bad retention

nothing else matters. Improve it


by delivering core product value
early and often.
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.
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.
Identifying Growth Channels
User Behavior Channels to explore

Are people using search to find a solution? SEO, SEM

Do existing users share your product via word


of mouth? Virality, referrals

Does having more users improve the experience?


Virality

Are your target users already on another


platform? Partnership, Integration

Do users have a high LTV? Paid acquisition


Break down each Channel into Drivers
Channel Drivers

%age importing contacts,


Virality # 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.


Growth Requires Continuous Prioritization and Feedback

Prioritize
channels and
drivers

Build, A/B Brainstorm


test and hypotheses
measure and ideas

Prioritize
based on Assess
impact, impact on
probability of north star
success and metric
effort
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


Weve 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.
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


Culture

Data trumps opinions

Set ambitious goals

Move fast

Learn continuously

Celebrate wins
Final thought Id leave you with

Don't be satisfied with stories, how


things have gone with others.
Unfold your own myth
Rumi
Thank you!

Aatif Awan
Vice President, Growth & International Products at LinkedIn
www.linkedin.com/in/aatifawan

aatif_awan