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LinkedIn vs. Facebook…please stop comparing the two, as they serve different purposes.

I was recently part of a discussion on LinkedIn concerning whether or not people should be devoting time to both of these popular social networks (Facebook and LinkedIn) or allocate their time to one. My answer was as follows:

I have been using Facebook since its infancy primarily as a personal social networking tool as opposed to business. That’s what it was initially created to be and what it did best (i.e. a way for college students and alumni to stay in touch). It has evolved tremendously and spread like wildfire. Now it is the primary means that my demographic uses to stay in touch with one another and be “in-the-loop” at all times.

The business world has quickly caught on and is trying to make use of Facebook’s power, especially now that the floodgates have opened and users can create their own Facebook applications.

I find it a bit concerning, yet at the same time exciting that my Personal life is now being blurred with my Work life as clients (who are typically in an older demographic than myself) are starting to send me Facebook “friend” requests. To date, all of my 286 “friends” have been actual friends, acquaintances and family. Business contacts are now starting to leak in, which is not always a good thing (I wrote a blog entry on this topic last week).

That being said, Facebook is a great way for businesses to form specific communities. For instance, instead of having an online forum on your website, just tell clients to join your official company Facebook group where they can post/blog/comment/rant/share/tag to their hearts desire (why not, it’s free!).

I think LinkedIn serves a completely different purpose than Facebook and thus you should dedicate resources to both. The main difference is that LinkedIn was created for BUSINESS. It makes it harder for anyone to just join your network. Users can’t actually request to be in your network unless they know your email AND you let them. It is up to the LinkiedIn community to keep it that way and not just let anyone join their networks. I think the whole “3 degree concept is genius” especially when applied to business networking and helping to advance careers.

In Facebook, when you connect to existing long time users, you will find much more of a blend of their personal lives mixed into their profiles (maybe even more than you would like to know, like those bachelor party photos of you tagged by your friends).

My recommendation: Treat LinkedIn as you would treat your offline “quality” business contacts and leads. A place where you can ask expert questions and have expert replies. The functionality of LinkedIn will improve over time, so that should not be an issue. For now, let’s keep dedicating time to the LinkedIn community and it’s official purpose, which is to provide an effective platform for all types of professionals to connect with one another.

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One Comment

  1. dafranks

    “The main difference is that LinkedIn was created for BUSINESS.” Many people are using Linked In to connect with their co-workers. “By the way, did you know that networking expert Jan Vermeiren has written a book about LinkedIn? It is called “How to REALLY use LinkedIn” (see: http://www.how-to-really-use-linkedin.com) He also gives away a free light version and access to webinars.”

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