So the last few days I expanded my Facebook and LinkedIn network and I got a bunch of emails and instant messages from people asking, umm why? Well a few big name blogs (yes people have more traffic than I do :-) like Jason Calacanis (yes my tough commenter on bloggingstocks.com) has declared Facebook Bankruptcy and Social Networking Exhaustion. Robert Scoble countered back with pro Facebook posts and now recently posted around his favorite Facebook apps. Also I saw this link I believe from Scoble on 12 ways to use Facebook professionally, so I decided to give it another try. However, with a different twist which is how it compares to LinkedIn for professionals.
So, I'm giving both a go and here are my quick observations from the past few days:
- I have many more people in my professional network on LinkedIn. I have 116 real contacts at LinkedIn and a whopping 18 on Facebook.
- Both were very easy to upload my Outlook contacts and then look for friends on both; however, I don't know about you but trolling through LinkedIn's add a contact has always been very tedious while Facebook is actually kind of fun and easy to use.
- LinkedIn's format and profiles are very bland even for a professional site and reminds me most about those old Who's Who in American Business books that you try and get sold on.
- While Facebook has that underlying feeling that people are kind of there to find a date (notice the questions on your profile: relationship status, looking for...), LinkedIn feels like an easy place for recruiters to look for their next job applicant.
- Facebook of course has a ton more applications and is much more dynamic when it comes to current status and updates. Plus, by being able to join Central NJ as a network I get to see what is happening in my local area; posted by other Facebook peeps.
Net, net to me LinkedIn just feels like something you have to do in order to be a professional and feels like a safe step for busy management types (the people I used to work with for 10 years at AT&T and 5 years at Harrisdirect) who want to test networking online. It isn't something that keeps you coming back and checking on people unless you need to look for a job or connect to people that could be hiring. Most people that I've talked to use it as part of their job search and for finding recruiters in a quiet manner - again it reminds me of that coveted directory of professional recruiters that you used to need in your job search.
However, Facebook is really a fast grower for professionals because there is more to do and as Jason Calacanis pointed out, more ways to spend time (or waste time). Searching for people is fun and it is easy to leave messages for people. You can look for people in past jobs, past schools, or in and around where you live. It is the perfect mash up of MySpace and LinkedIn - it is becoming professional enough for co-workers not to look down on you, yet it has a much safer environment for more social past-times. It is definitely less creepy and less raunchy than MySpace which I have very little use for; my favorite past time is to look for neighbors who really get into MySpace.
For me Facebook looks like a real winner long term while MySpace as I've written before is just the year 2010 version of GeoCities. If LinkedIn doesn't up their applications and usability it will become as useful as the Who's Who in American Business reference books of the past. I'm starting to believe in Facebook again, even if I don't have a ton of contacts and you can definitely waste a lot of time.