Posts Tagged george costanza

Driving member growth: Sometimes it pays to be direct

When I was leading international corporate communications at LinkedIn in 2009-2010, we knew interaction between members was critical to driving growth in the overall member base. Critical to that was a singular act on the platform: Completing and updating your profile. The problem was most people only updated their profiles when they were about to look for a job. I was more than a little obsessed with driving that objective (See number 8 on this post), particularly in international markets where our member base was fast-growing, but relatively small compared to the U.S.

In India we had garnered national press coverage simply by announcing our presence in Mumbai — which helped further accelerate membership growth in that country. That gave us fodder for making more and more milestone announcement: “LinkedIn India surpasses 3 million members” then 4 million members, then 5 million. Like any news cycle, it gets salty quick and you have to be more inventive and sometimes what George Constanza did — the opposite.

Given our top priority was to get people to update their profile, I figured why not just ask them to do that directly? After all, we messaged members directly all the time. (Sometimes, the greatest clarity comes from being awake for 30 straight hours and staring at a hotel room ceiling 10,000 miles away from home.)

Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 1.36.33 PMUntil then we’d been using press coverage and the buzz it created to drive member growth. To announce our 6 millionth member in India, we decided to announce the news directly to the membership base and let them carry it to the mainstream media — along with a tip to complete your profile.


  • Day 1 – 15,000 updated profiles
  • Day 2 – 30,000 updated profiles
  • Press coverage hit more than 5 million impressions
  • Cost of distribution: Zero Rupees
  • Prep and writing time: 2 hours (one hour was spent just explaining it and 15 minutes spent on discussing the button)
  • Authenticity to the company mission and product purpose: Like a glove

In the weeks after this tactic, my PR colleagues started looking at LinkedIn the platform for what is today — the world’s most powerful business medium for professionals.

– Jose Mallabo 


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My big fat wallet

It was starting to look like Costanza’s exploding wallet. So I dumped it out and out came a handful of receipts and a packet of Splenda — but mostly the pain in my right cheek was the heft of four gift cards. Each of them are about a year old – from last Christmas, of course.  The grand total of money on my unused cards = $150 – or about a week’s worth of groceries for a hungry vegetarian.

Wonder how many Macy's gift cards were in there?

With just two weeks before Christmas, I’m sure there are people who fully intend to buy actual gifts for their loves ones but will likely get too busy and end up buying a card off the end cap at Safeway or Genuardi’s instead.

I’m not judging you. We’ve all done it. Just know there’s a good chance that you’re taking your $20 or $50 bill and tossing it out the window of a moving car at night in a neighborhood you’ve never been in before.

Americans spend $65 billion on annually (a 2009 estimate) on gift cards with almost $7 billion of it going unused. That’s one tenth of the gross domestic product of The Netherlands. With 309 million people in the U.S. that’s roughly $23 per person in the U.S.  Based on that, I am seven times less likely to use gift cards than the average U.S. consumer.  Maybe a better way to look at it is the people who intend to buy me gifts are seven times more likely to forget.

It’s debatable.  In a pinch, I take PayPal.  And I use it most to buy gifts.  So, odds are if you PayPal me money, it will come back to you in the form of a durable good or White Elephant.

Imagine if the state governments took PayPal.  Now that would be true social commerce. If they did they wouldn’t have to use tax payer’s money to chase down unused, but already taxed money sitting on gift cards.

Gift cards are part of the country’s hidden economy that includes mail-in rebates, flex spending accounts and extended product warranties. Money spent but left unused like that yarn cardigan from your aunt Martha from Pasadena.

People freely buy a gift card for someone (who may not use it), but flee the register if asked to buy an extended warranty on a $59 DVD player.

– Jose Mallabo

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Enjoy. Costanza.

As I am flipping my eggs this morning, I couldn’t help but think what a world-class prick George Costanza was. But yet we loved him. And, I miss him. Costanza could double dip his chip and walk out of the potty into a dinner party shirtless – but who didn’t love that D battery shaped prick of a man?

His approach was to leave every room with a limerick. Something warm and fuzzy for people to remember him by that would somehow eradicate all the wrongs he’d committed in the previous 22 minute episode.


Brilliance, I say.

I used to drive 60 miles one way to work each day. People would ask me how I managed getting through the various traffic pockets that lay in wait for me each day up and down the Bay Area.

That was like playing checkers against an 8-year old. All you have to do is show up. The real battle was me vs. my digestive system. I couldn’t have more than 2 cups of coffee in the morning or I’d feel like a water balloon by the time I got to the outskirts of lovely Fremont. Often, I didn’t have time to make breakfast so getting to the cafeteria grill first was the extra special Olympic game I played.

After I won that skirmish, the game within the game started. At that hour, the Egg Nazi was usually still chopping onions or cleaning the grill. She didn’t appreciate how I had just outwitted my own bladder to get there for her breakfast special. She typically stared me down and marinated me in my own hunger while she finished whatever chore she was ensconced in.

This was a true prick. I loved her.

A pushover compared to the Egg Nazi

A pushover compared to the Egg Nazi

As she handed me my bacon and eggs, that silent scowl always said to me “Take your eggs and your stupid BlackBerry and go Tweet about your soon-to-be-scathing case of salmonella you stereotypical Asian at a dot com,” but those big, pouty lips that looked like two slugs making out in a Petri dish of ketchup sang happily “enjoy…”


Just like that she went from being the scary Egg Nazi to the come hither Egg Ingenue.

That little verbal pat on the bum somehow made all the silent abuse worth it. Alas, these interludes over eggs have ended. But I say, it’s better to have enjoyed and lost than never to have enjoyed at all.

– Jose Mallabo