LinkedIn vs. Facebook? Not Really

There’s lots of buzz about LinkedIn opening up its API to outside developers – and the inevitable comparisons with Facebook, which pulled off the same stunt a couple weeks ago. It has caused some people such as my friend, Mathew Ingram, to wonder if LinkedIn and Facebook are competing, and if LinkedIn stands a chance in the face of the Facebook Phenomena (aka FP).

In a sense, LinkedIn and Facebook are competing given they’re both popular and useful social networking tools. That said, they’re different beasts with different wrinkles and characteristics. LinkedIn is a serious corporate networking tool. You recommend me to a colleague, and then when I want to do some business, I’ll contact them – or something like that. Facebook, for now, is about the consumer and fun/entertainment. It’s not about business.

Of course, there will be some overlap. LinkedIn users who into social networking will, no doubt, check out Facebook as another valuable tool to get the word out. I mean, half the reason I’m in Facebook is having my professional profile available to a huge audience. And maybe some Facebook users will check out LinkedIn, although I suspect it will be parents as opposed to their children.

What’s pretty amazing about Facebook is it has 11 million members and, more important, it’s a profitable business. By the way, b5media has a great LinkedIn blog, Linked Intelligence.

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  • Michael Garrity

    What’s more telling, Mark, is that I linked to this post from your Facebook profile. In other words, while I have a LinkedIn profile and I should be their target audience (inches from 40), I find FB a much better way of linking to professionals like yourself and getting a “fuller” view of who they are by how they work (your status, interests, network and now – your blogs).

    I would argue that FB and LinkedIn are absolutely competing and unless LinkedIn move beyond matching simple contact data and into facilitating real time updates, interactive conversations and a wider view of what defines a “professional personality”, they will slip even further behind.

    My 2 cents. Good post – thanks.

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  • Ben Lucier

    Yes, they are competitors. Granted, Facebook does lack some specific business functionality that LinkedIn users enjoy (ie. Introductions, references, etc).

    I agree with Michael. In fact, I’m waiting for Facebook to introduce functionality that will permit users a degree of separation between their corporate and personal life. For instance, when I add/invite a new contact, there’s no reason why I can’t specify them as personal, business, or both.

    Ever since I started using Facebook, I rarely bother with LinkedIn. That in itself is a very real indicator to the negative impact Facebook has over LinkedIn.

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