Three ways LinkedIn can win in mobile

LinkedIn (s lnkd) claims more than 100 million users and recently enjoyed a successful IPO, but the company’s mobile efforts have failed to drive much traffic, according to Compete. The analytics company said last week that a mere 9 percent of LinkedIn members use their mobile devices to engage with the service, far fewer than the number of Twitter users (43 percent) or Facebook members (34 percent) who access those social networks via mobile.

That may be largely due to LinkedIn’s slow response to the drastic increase in smartphone usage: The company didn’t release a downloadable app for BlackBerry (s rimm) until last year, and its Android (s goog) app is only seven months old. But while LinkedIn has long been the subject of speculation regarding tie-ups with Google or Research In Motion, among others, it doesn’t need to depend on others to boost its mobile business. It could tap the booming mobile market by focusing on a few key initiatives:

  1. Integration with Skype. Om suggested a partnership last year, and embracing Skype would give LinkedIn communications offerings that would be very compelling to many of its business users. It would also pave the way for videoconferencing over smartphones and tablets.
  2. Partnerships with handset manufacturers and carriers. Embedding LinkedIn’s mobile apps on handsets would go a long way toward making users aware of those offerings. It could also help the company leverage its precious contact information by enabling users to sync phones with their accounts, just as Android does with Facebook contacts.
  3. Mobile advertising. LinkedIn’s network compiles an enormous amount of data that is valuable for marketing and corporate intelligence, as Business 2 Community noted last month. That information can be coupled with mobile data such as location to deliver highly targeted ads that can be presented through LinkedIn’s mobile site and applications.

LinkedIn has done well so far without aggressively moving into mobile, but its users will increasingly demand more from the service as our data consumption continues to surge. For more thoughts on how the company can boost its business by serving those on-the-go users, please see my weekly column at GigaOM Pro (subscription required).

Image courtesy Flickr user smi23le