Reality Check: LinkedIn Is Not Facebook

Because Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with 750 million active users as of July 2011, both users and industry analysts have this urge to look at other social networks through the lens of what Facebook has achieved and the ecosystem that has been built around it.

Often the two sites that get compared most often are Twitter and Facebook. More recently the discussion has turned to comparing Facebook and Google+. I can understand why people seek to compare Twitter and Google+ to Facebook. They’re both social networking platforms with a more general purpose.

What confuses me, however, is when people try to compare Facebook and LinkedIn as though they’re the same site, and serve the same purpose.

They aren’t, and they don’t.

What got me started on this topic was a new post on the Social Media Club blog, called “LinkedIn: on its way to being left behind?

The post’s author discusses what he sees are LinkedIn’s shortcomings when it comes to integrating with what he calls the “flowsociety”, which essentially boils down to the free exchange of contact info and content from one social network (Facebook) to another (Twitter). He believes that LinkedIn is too closed off.

Open up your system and let your data be a more active part of the flowsociety and other social networks, if not you will be left behind in the faster and faster flow out there. Just imagine how it could be if you could download a CV through Facebook or Twitter very simple by just checking out a persons profile.

When LinkedIn launched, it was pretty staid. No photos, no links. Literally, it was an internet version of your resume/CV. As Facebook and Twitter has grown, new features were added to LinkedIn (user images, apps, etc) to keep up with the evolving idea of social network “standards.”

By putting itself “out there” in the way that the author describes, LinkedIn loses its individuality. LinkedIn becomes less its own company and own website, and more a “feature” that is now a part of this “flowsociety.”

LinkedIn has a lot of room to grow, but by no means should people start thinking that room to grow = adding functionality that mirrors Facebook.

LinkedIn is social network geared toward white-collar professionals, and in terms of users is 1/6 the size of Facebook. If that doesn’t say “niche social network,” I don’t know what else would.