Posted in: facebook, linkedin, social networking, web20

LinkedIn and Facebook – Unclear Outcome

I’ve been on vacation for about a week now, so this post is a bit dated. But I’m still going to write it anyway. I have seen a lot of folks saying that they’re going to abandon LinkedIn and use Facebook as the do-all and be-all social network for business and personal needs. After reading this post on TechCrunch and this one on Robert Scoble’s blog I think the big risk to LinkedIn is that Facebook commoditizes context. The one big advantage that I find in using LinkedIn is that the nature of the relationships that exist on that service are generally professional in nature – it solves the context problem by giving me a frame of reference from the start. If people decide that they’d rather wade into Facebook and divine context instead of using a network where some context is implied, that would be bad for LinkedIn’s business prospects. Let’s also keep in mind that there are likely people who will want to maintain some meaningful distinction between their personal and professional lives.
This will be interesting to watch. LinkedIn is, in my opinion, one of the few vertical social networks with meaningful scale and usage and I’m curious to see what the “Facebook” effect does to their usage and adoption. My hunch is that it will take more than a few early adopters to move the needle in this balance but a few more Scoble-like posts could raise the stakes.
On an unrelated note, I have to believe that some of the growth in LinkedIn’s usage and traffic is due to some of the site redesigns they implemented – there are a lot more places in the site that prompt you to connect with people you are likely to know.