August 12, 2013
Today is the second post in my 3 post attempt to look at lesser-known social networks. As you may remember, in my previous post I assessed the usefulness of Plaxo, a cloud-based contact book. Today we will explore Viadeo.
What is Viadeo? Everyone is talking about LinkedIn these days, but have you considered any alternatives to the famous B2B networking platform? Because this is exactly what it is.
In its own description,
“The Viadeo Group owns and operates professional social networks around the world with a total membership base of over 50 million professionals.”
When I registered with the platform, the Gmail contacts import function worked really well. Unlike Plaxo, which imported only 6 of my contacts, Viadeo imported 1031. However, only 5 of them were already registered with the platform. Not to say that my Gmail inbox is a representative sample of the professional network of all time, but it did make me less excited about joining.
When it comes to the platform’s usability, the sections are quite self-explanatory, unsurprising and easy to navigate. The only feature that stood out for me (and what I believe is still missing from LinkedIn), are the blogs and events functions:
The blogs section in particular is a great idea. At the moment LinkedIn allows regular users to upload a sample of their work, (which is great) and regularly update their status. However, when it comes to regular creative input of deeper substance, such an option at the moment is lacking (unless you are one of the few chosen Influencers).
Nevertheless, even though these sections did stand out, I couldn’t stop feeling that the platform has been somewhat abandoned. The company claims a 50 million user base, but how many of them are active?
What is fascinating is Viadeo’s geographical strategy, aiming at regions where LinkedIn may not be established yet, namely France, India and China. According to Viadeo, the platform comprises of three formerly independent brands, Viadeo (France), ApnaCircle (India) and Tianji (China).
I thought it would be interesting to see how the platform has performed in these particular regions over time. Inspired by Zooma, I used Google Trends to see Viadeo search volume over time and the results are somewhat mixed.
In India, the platform reached its peak in January 2011, and enjoyed over 76% of its peak popularity this July:
In China, Viadeo reached its peak popularity this January, but since then has gone downhill:
And when it comes to its stronghold, France, despite the steady growth between 2007 and 2012, again one can observe a fall in the platform’s popularity since then. And when we compare this with the growth of LinkedIn in the country, Viadeo’s decline now makes sense:
Would I recommend joining Viadeo? On one hand, there is no harm in doing so. However, if your platform strategy is to survive even the dark winter mornings, you may want to be selective and do only what works best. Measure, optimise and learn – if Viadeo brings returns to your online marketing strategy, go for it! If not, stick to more popular B2B platforms.
Following Mary Beth’s useful feedback I have updated keyword volume comparisons in India and China with Tianji and ApnaCircle.
Screenshots courtesy of Viadeo