Viadeo has just announced that they’ve reached 8 million members in France, outpacing LinkedIn’s 4.3 million (here and here) [update below]. Often in the shadow of its much larger rival, Viadeo has done a particularly good job of fending off LinkedIn in their home market. Strategically positioning themselves in France as the indispensable social network for job-hunting, seeking / offering career advice or finding new career opportunities, they’ve put a big emphasis on working with key domestic partners, such as Pole-emploi (France’s unemployment service), Orange, and Apec (non-profit focusing on the employment of executives) to deliver on their strategy.
Another smart move on their part in the French market was to increase their focus on France’s regions (outside the Paris region) where some 65% of their French members are now based. As professionals, businesses, and opportunities outside of the Paris region can often be overlooked, this offered Viadeo a good opportunity to address a big unmet need that’s only likely to increase as France as a whole gets more connected (eg broadband access, wifi, etc). They have also recently joined the French Chamber of Commerce’s Initiative to help business owners across all of France get up to speed on digital technology, further demonstrating their commitment to this segment of users.
Although they’re still a distant second to LinkedIn on the global level, they are steadily growing abroad and continue to be the leading professional social network in China with 17 million members. China is notoriously a difficult market to penetrate, so the fact that they’re so strong there is quite impressive (although LinkedIn is increasingly improving there, particular via mobile). They also have a very strong presence in French-speaking North and West Africa, where they have 3 million members.
Having been a strong #2 to LinkedIn for quite some time (currently 55 million members vs 200 million for LinkedIn), Viadeo have shown that they can win against their bigger rival in certain geographies and segments by making smart strategic choices about how to expand.
After the publishing of this article, we got an update from LinkedIn that they just annouced this past week that they’ve now reached 6 million users in France.
So although still trailing Viadeo in France, LinkedIn is still growing here and may one day be nipping at their heels.