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Keeping up appearances

By July 23, 2007Uncategorized

LinkedIn is a professional social network that I’ve been a part of for almost 2 years.  I’ve written about LinkedIn before.  I still believe that it’s a great tool.  However, lately I’ve noticed that a lot of my professional friends are joining Facebook.  At first I thought this was odd, because Facebook was more of a social network for college kids.  But, Facebook has a lot power too.  More than LinkedIn in many ways.

For example, after 2 years on LinkedIn I have 119 connections (as of the writing of this post).  After playing with Facebook for a few months I have about 70 contacts.  Facebook lets you send a blast email to everyone in your contact book that is already a member of Facebook (so you aren’t sending the blast email to people who have no idea what Facebook is). I did this the other day and added about 60 people.

I’ve noticed that people seem to find me more readily in Facebook than in LinkedIn.  And Facebook allows for a lot more ‘playfulness’ than LinkedIn.  Makes sense.  LinkedIn is a professional network, as opposed to a casual one.  But does that mean that Facebook shouldn’t be used as a professional marketing tool?

Not really. 

Last night I watched the movie The Queen and found it fascinating.  The focal point is Queen Elisabeth’s struggle to deal publicly with the death of Diana, and the public’s outrage at the Monarchy’s seeming lordliness.  The Queen has to confront the fact that the old style of regal reclusiveness does not sit well with many people today.  The movie would have been shallow if it had merely cast the Queen as out of touch with the times.  Instead, it gave a stirring account of the personal struggles that she encountered in grappling with the cultural shift.  The portrayal of the Queen is compassionate, and in the end we feel troubled that she has so much difficulty showing herself to the public.

Diana, in contrast, was beloved because her life was open (perhaps too open) and people could have a sense of who she was. Or at least they could allow themselves to believe they knew who she was. The Queen, in the end, had to accept that she needed to be a bit more like Diana, even though she didn’t have a great regard for her.

I think that the differences between Facebook and LinkedIn reflect a similar sensibility in the world of online marketing or networking.  It’s important to have a professional appearance, and LinkedIn is wonderful in that regard. But, it’s also important to show a more human side.  People like to deal with people they feel comfortable with.  Professional networks emphasize one’s professional skills.  Social networks like Facebook emphasize the personal touches.

I’ve known Marty Schwimmer for many years.  I’ve read his blog for 5 years, and I trade emails with him regularly.  I know a lot about Marty.  But I didn’t know, until he became a "Facebook friend" that he was taking bass guitar lessons.  Or at least that’s what his ‘status page’ said last Saturday.  Maybe he was kidding but that’s okay too. 

I like Marty’s sense of humor, and the more often I see it the better.

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  • Aaron says:

    Glad to see you on facebook! It has definitely evolved over the years – it was a school-specific social networking site when I first joined it – you couldn’t even join without an .edu email address. Having been on linkedin and facebook about the same period of time, I can safely say facebook is by far the more valuable service – linkedin is so stodgy and difficult to work with – you can’t even send a message to someone without knowing their email address independently. If they don’t adapt quickly they’re going the way of a dotcom bubble company.

  • Robert says:

    Interesting. I was under the impression that Facebook was, as you said, for college-age kids. I’ll have to check it out. At least then I’d have something to note during my firm’s marketing committee meetings…

  • Rosalea says:

    But have you seen this YouTube video about who runs Facebook?

  • Matt Round says:

    Yeah, I think LinkedIn failed to adapt to get the right balance; it’s all about building a network, but then doesn’t have the right communication mechanisms to make it inherently useful. It’s a social network with too much network and not enough social.

    With Facebook, each user lets out a constant trickle of information to their friends, meaning even someone with a relatively small network will probably have something new to look at each day. LinkedIn could easily draw inspiration from Facebook by adding obvious features such as photos (so you can show your premises, projects, etc. as well as yourself) and some form of micro-blogging (great for updates on business projects), but so far I’m not convinced they’re smart enough to make such moves.

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