Xing, LinkedIn & Co – when is a premium membership worth it?
By Marie Lücke
Paid premium memberships are intended to help you advance your own career. But can paid offers keep their promise? A recent study reveals how you can get the most out of your account.
The way we network has changed sustainably due to the corona pandemic. The exchange between colleagues or business partners takes place in the home office only in the virtual room. But contacts and relationships are important in order to be able to advance your own career. Consequently, career networks are becoming all the more important.
Career networks such as Xing or LinkedIn work according to the freemium principle. The portals offer their customers both a free basic membership and a paid premium membership. When upgrading to the paid version, the providers promise to accelerate the growth of their own professional network. But can paid offers really add value to a career? In our picture gallery we will tell you tips on how to get the most out of your account.
The experiment with freelancers
In their current study, scientists from the Otto Beisheim School of Management in Vallendar near Koblenz, HEC Paris and Goethe University Frankfurt am Main have “Are premium memberships in career networks worthwhile?“ analyzes whether the premium functions of career networks actually lead to an increase in social capital. This refers to the close relationships between people who can help each other to achieve their goals and can rely on a strong network.
The challenge of the study was to prove that the premium version helps users to expand their network. It was therefore necessary to determine a value-adding influence of the cause (purchase of the premium version) on the supposed effect (larger network). In science, this is called a “causal relationship”.
In order to measure the benefits, the researchers conducted an experiment with 215 freelancers, as they are particularly dependent on their professional network. Among these freelancers, the scientists raffled off 75 premium memberships for a period of twelve months. The researchers then compared the group of winners and the group of users with free access in terms of the development of social capital. In addition, they analyzed the individual usage data of over 50,000 other freelancers in order to obtain a more unambiguous result and thus a more representative study.
Active and passive users
The results of the study show that paid membership can act as an amplifier for the expansion of one’s own network. However, this only applies to people who use the career platform very actively. In this case, the researchers observed a disproportionate increase in social capital during the experiment. Accordingly, active commitment is the basic prerequisite for achieving added value from premium membership.
On the other hand, passive users who hoped to be able to increase their network only by a stronger presence of their profile could not benefit significantly from the premium version.
Effects of functions
In addition, the researchers were able to prove that actively used functions have a particularly positive effect on the social capital of users. The active functions include, for example, direct mail to members, search queries or an automatic alert for search results.
On the other hand, passive functions such as statistics, about the visitors on your own user profile or the color highlighting as a premium user in the search results of other users only provided for a moderate expansion of your own network.
In addition, the authors of the study noted that the basic activity of users increases significantly immediately after the purchase of a premium account. After that, in many cases, it gradually falls off again. But even after a longer time, the premium members are even more active than the users of basic accounts.
This post comes from our partner portal Machine market.