Less than 20% of India’s 1.3 billion people speak English. But LinkedIn, the largest professional social network globally, has so far catered only to this sliver of the population in the world's second largest internet market. On Thursday, the Microsoft-owned service said it’s beginning to change that.
LinkedIn has started to roll out support for Hindi on its social network, it said on Thursday. Hindi, a language spoken or understood by more than half a billion people in India and over 600 million people globally, is the first Indian regional language to be supported by the social network.
The company, whose service supports 25 languages, said its website and mobile apps will give users the option to access their feed, profile, and messages in Hindi. Users will also be able to create content in Hindi through LinkedIn’s desktop and mobile apps, it said.
Even as India is a major market for several global services, LinkedIn has struggled to make deep inroads in the country. India accounts for just over 6% of over 1.3 billion visits LinkedIn garners in a month, according to analytics firm SimilarWeb. LinkedIn says it has over 82 million users in India, more than 20 million of whom joined the service in the last three years. LinkedIn has over 800 million users globally.
In the meanwhile, a handful of startups are beginning to address the same problems as LinkedIn. Apna, a two-year-old startup that is helping people find jobs in India, became the youngest unicorn in the country two months ago. The startup, which as of September was facilitating over 18 million job interviews each month and offers its app in multiple Indian languages, recently conducted a survey that found that 57% of users in India preferred using a vernacular interface over English.
Other than traction, LinkedIn has also faced challenges with keeping the top job role in India intact. In the past four years, at least three different people have been given the top LinkedIn job in India. The chain of events started after Akshay Kothari, now the chief operating officer of Notion, resigned from LinkedIn India head role in 2018.
The announcement on Thursday also comes less than two months after Microsoft shut down LinkedIn in China, the world's largest internet market, and replaced its marquee social offering with a job board.
“In India, LinkedIn has been mission critical to helping people connect, learn, grow and get hired during the pandemic and in this new world of work we are in. With the launch of Hindi, now more members and customers can unlock greater value from the platform through content, jobs, and networking, and express themselves in a language that they feel comfortable in,” said Ashutosh Gupta, India Country Manager, LinkedIn, in a post.
In the coming months, LinkedIn said it will work towards widening the range of job opportunities available for Hindi speaking professionals across industries. It is also looking to add more Hindi publishers and creators in the coming weeks to boost engagement in Hindi on the platform.