Using Xing.de for Business Purposes
Depending on your strategic marketing, sales and recruitment goals, integrating a professional social networking into your plans may be a successful strategy. If you are a predominantly U.S.-based firm looking to branch out onto foreign shores, or perhaps a French or Indian firm that already has a strong presence on Viadeo, then there is at least one other professional networking site whose services you should consider. And that site is XING – a German-based company launched in 2003, that as of March of 2014 counts over 14 million members worldwide.
In this article, we will cover 1) the history of XING, 2) the purpose of XING, 3) the benefits of XING, 4) setting up a XING account, 5) using XING for business, 6) XING’s key terminology, and 7) a business case study of XING usage.
HISTORY OF XING.DE
The firm was founded as OpenBC (Open Business Club) in Hamburg, Germany by serial entrepreneur Lars Hinrichs on November 1, 2003. Open BC was initially a club for entrepreneurs, with a professional social network growing out of Hinrichs’ own need to organize the network of contacts he had developed through the Club. After its launch as a stand-alone professional networking site, the firm enjoyed rapid increases in membership and revenue. OpenBC rebranded itself as XING in late 2006, and by December, 7, 2006, the company went public.
The company has grown through acquiring similar professional networking sites in other countries. In 2007, it bought Neurona and eConozco – Spanish professional social networking sites, and Cember.net – a Turkish professional social networking site). At this point, it was available in 16 different languages.
Historically, XING has gotten the majority of its traffic from Germany and German-speaking countries, such as Switzerland and Austria (known as the D-A-CH region), with half of its members from this region. Due to this, they have recently stopped support for other languages. In the wake of heavy competition and stagnant growth outside of D-A-C-H, in 2011, XING closed its offices in China, Spain, and Turkey.
XING’s main revenue driver is premium memberships, even though 97% of them (as of March 2014) were from the D-A-CH region. Ads are available to businesses (and XING owns, through acquisition, an employer reviewing business, Kununu), though XING has, in comparison to its chief competitors, relatively few ads. XING also offers businesses a platform for enterprise communities, which is used by multinational firms like McKinsey, DaimlerChrysler, IBM, and Accenture, among others.
Given XING’s relatively limited market, they have started offering more and different benefits. One such benefit is ticket registration and sales for member/organization events. They also purchased Amiando, a leading event registration and ticket sales broker to facilitate this offering in 2010.
PURPOSE OF XING.DE
XING is a professional social networking website: as such it is chiefly designed to provide its members business opportunities, by providing them the ability to share, communicate, and interact with each other concerning business topics, as well as conduct marketing, recruitment, and sales activities on their platform.
Like its chief non-U.S. competitor, Viadeo, XING initially employed a glocal approach. It focused on developing significant professional and individual memberships in key regional markets, to enable it to be the dominant player in those markets and provide considerable value to members in those markets. However, after early efforts to expand internationally, the firm has focused in recent years on expanding and monetizing the depth of its services, such as software licensing and event management. XING’s challenge will be to ensure that its strategy does not artificially limit its revenue potential.
BENEFITS OF XING.DE
The benefits of using XING are numerous for both individuals and firms. Individual members can use XING to enhance their personal brand by setting up profiles, networking with other job seekers, providing or receiving public recommendations (known as references) and sharing industry insights. They can also synchronize their contacts with a variety of contact management systems, including Lotus Notes, Microsoft Outlook, and Outlook express, among others.
XING allows firms to burnish their image and establish credibility as an industry authority by sharing industry updates, company news, and insights on your page. This can bolster your public relations efforts: by establishing your staff as experts, you can pitch their expertise (and availability for expert interviews/testimonials) to journalists covering your industry. This may also provide entree to business networking, B2B sales conversations, strategic partnership conversations and more. And by monitoring what people are saying on XING about their using third-party media monitoring tools, like Hootsuite or Social Mention, they can gain actionable insights about their strategies.
XING offers members the ability to set up a Group about any topic, not necessarily of a business nature (subject to approval). Much like other professional social networks, XING groups can be public or private. Firms can use these groups for marketing activities, and deeper brand engagement and/or for recruiting purposes. Further, firms can set up Company Pages to establish a presence on XING, post job listings and firm updates, and engage with existing and prospective customers. They can also use the Premium features to expand their visibility further. Premium members also get certain third-party benefits, such as periods of free Skype usage.
XING has privacy settings that allow you to share what profile information is visible to their users. Unlike many other social networks, including professional ones, XING uses the https: protocol, meaning it is very secure. They also closely monitor the site to crack down on spamming efforts. And XING Mobile allows you to access all of XING’s functions on your smartphone with a quick download of the app.
XING members can search for local events and purchase tickets for them online, through XING Events. XING Events also offers a robust platform for marketing events and audience development efforts. Further, they also have established a regional ambassador program – Xpert Ambassadors are responsible for organizing and promoting local and regional events. As per XING:
“Xpert Ambassadors are dedicated XING members and active moderators of an industry-specific XING group. They are recognized experts with specialist knowledge of their particular field of work. Through their group and regular official XING Events, Xpert Ambassadors strive to bring people with similar interests together to network with one another.”
Lastly, XING offers enterprise-level social applications to business and organizations for license. These can include any organization, from a consulting firm to a membership association. As Sarik Weber, XING’s head of sales noted of the technology, in a 2005 interview:
“Our business partners are very appreciative of the technology as well as the wide range of applications offered, such as networking, contact management, search features, forums and event management which can all now be provided as part of their brand. This makes the communities more contextually appropriate, self-reliant and independent – decisive factors to closed user groups who wish to maintain the value of their sensitive network structures [. “]This means a private club is not just and off shoot of the main [XING] it is a separate community.”
SETTING UP A XING.DE ACCOUNT
Setting up a page is easy. Visit www.xing.com and click Sign Up Now for Free, after the requested information: First name, Last name, Email, and Password, and agreeing to the Terms of Service. You’ll be taken to a profile page you can customize. From here, you can select a premium package by selecting Premium Benefits, or you can begin to create to a company page by clicking on Create Company Profile under Companies.
Firms looking to maximize XING’S capabilities should consider purchasing a premium account, which is approximately $8 USD per month. This entitles you to more sophisticated recruiting, customization, communication, and searching tools, among other features.
USING XING.DE FOR BUSINESS
XING provides firms with many opportunities to recruit, advertise, build brand awareness, and develop business, particularly in the D-A-CH region.
78% of German firms use XING for recruitment because XING provides recruiters with ample opportunities to find and acquire talent. They can use XING’s search features to run keyword searches (using desired skills as key words) to find individuals with the skillsets they are looking for, and directly contact them. They can also post job listings accessible to all XING members. They can also prospect professional interest Groups for talent, as well as reach out to Group members, indicating you are holding recruiting events and are potentially opening up positions, in advance of a formal listing.
XING’s Jobs feature matches candidates with listings. Recruiters can purchase a listing, and pay using a pay-per-click model, though they can set a budget to limit how much you spend.
As mentioned previously, the vast majority of traffic and activity on XING comes from the D-A-CH region. If you are looking to recruit, establish business and/or offices, strengthen existing business relationships, advertise, or generate sales leads in this region, a XING account, integrated into a brought business development, human resources, or marketing strategy can be very valuable.
Extending reach and visibility through content marketing
You can use your Company Profile as a key vehicle to tell stories about your brand. By regularly interacting with consumers, influencers, and others on XING, you can build up your presence on the platform. And by including backlinks in your updates, ads, and offers to your website, you can increase website traffic and enhance website SEO. Make sure to include your regional or industry-based Xpert Ambassador in your content marketing plans to expend your reach.
XING offers targeted advertising opportunities through Adconion Media Group, which manages XING’s banner and other advertising. You can also, with an approval from XING, offer exclusive deals to premium members. You can advertise events through XING Events, which offers social media channel content distribution, email marketing, portal-based even advertising, affiliate marketing, and other promotional opportunities. And you can also create branded enterprise-level communities on XING’s platform, enhancing your networking opportunities, client-customer interactions, brand presence, and organizational capacity.
You can prospect XING profiles as sales leads, particularly once you run keyword searches for specific geo-demographic or other factors that qualify that particular sales lead. You can also mine profiles for contact information and reach out to them with marketing offers. As mentioned previously, XING monitors the site thoroughly to crackdown on spam emails, so take an opt-in approach. XING’s Event page often contains networking events by firms and organizations; XING Xpert ambassadors often organize these events as well. Attending them can yield leads, partners, and even sales.
XING.DE KEY TERMS
Before you join XING, read through this shortlist of key XING terms:
- DM – direct message, a common form of communication on XING and Twitter which is heavily integrated into XING
- Live Networking Events – these are social or professional live Events organized by Xing members using XING’s tools and platform
- Moderators – these are Xing members who oversee the adherence to the Terms of Service of Group members
- Posting – comments you make in a public or private Group or forum
- Group – a collection of self-selected XING members using XING’s forums to network and interact based on a common interest and/or affiliation.
- References – recommendations made by one member of another that are publicly visible
BEST PRACTICES FOR USING XING.DE
There are many ways to harness XING to accomplish strategic business aims.
- Post insights about the industry. Depending on the depth, utility, and ultimately the popularity of your insights, others will take note. A skilled content marketer should be able to help you match the kinds of industry topics likely to be popular with your leadership’s knowledge and expertise, as well as a content calendar, to craft winning blog posts on XING.
- Couple those industry posts with stories about your brand. Humanize your brand with customer feedback you solicit on XING. Post insights about your company culture, hiring practices, and other unique corporate insights to showcase your firm.
- Engage followers. Discussions are a two-way street. Don’t just push content, ask questions and respond to answers. And make it a point to respond to questions about, or mentions of, your firm. It’s more than just an engagement or follower recruitment strategy: it’s simple common courtesy.
- Identify and engage with the influencers in your industry, starting with XING’s Xpert Ambassadors. Beyond, these dedicated XING members, influencers can include journalists, bloggers, customers or followers with large followings, and those in related industries. Mentions by these users can generate interest in your brand and traffic to your website.
- Be brief with updates and interactions. Don’t overdo it with updates every five minutes, or you will turn people off. Further, XING frowns on this activity.
- Fill out your Company Page completely ensuring you establish a strong presence. Make sure to include contact information (including all social channels) so that those who wish to contact you can.
- Use traditional keyword strategies to appear towards the top or at the top of XING search engine results.
XING’s major competitors are U.S.-based LinkedIn and France-based Viadeo. The former has heavy exposure in the U.S., U.A.E., Sweden, Singapore, Costa Rica, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, among many other countries, while the latter is concentrated in France, with exposure in India from its acquisition of Indian professional networking site ApnaCircle, and China from its acquisition of professional social networking site Tianji.
Determining which to use should involve a review of your strategic marketing and recruiting goals. Where are you looking to do business? A Company Page can help improve your visibility in the D-A-C-H. Where are you looking to hire? Job listings here can lead to your next employee in this region.
If you need more convincing that a XING presence may help you achieve your firm’s strategic business objectives, look no further than Oracle. Oracle has developed a presence on both XING and its subsidiary Kununu to provide candidates with work-life insights. Their profiles allow them to provide a branded presence, recruit candidates, and share insights about working at the firm. The Kununu profile allows Oracle to monitor what current and former employees are saying about the company, and respond internally as it sees fit. Oracle has written about the importance of XING, and other professional social networks, in their recruitment and branding strategies, respectively on their corporate blog, noting that their use has helped save costs, attract talent, and help build a positive brand.
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