LinkedIn or Facebook?

One of the most common questions I get about social media is ‘LinkedIn or Facebook?’ Many of the business people I work with are already on LinkedIn, and consider Facebook to be a social toy their kids are playing with. Many of those I meet with who are on Facebook consider LinkedIn to be too rigid.

So the question is posed; when constructing my social media strategy, which should I include; LinkedIn or Facebook?

The obvious answer is ‘both’, however there is a reason for each, and they are not the same.

LinkedIn seems to have been designed from a ‘Rolodex™’ viewpoint, and therefore is considered by most of it’s users to be just that: a place to keep your database of contacts. One of the great advantages of LinkedIn is that, as a ‘Rolodex’, the information is usually current and comprehensive. It is literally the best place to look when you want to know where an associate is in their career.

On the other hand, LinkedIn has not caught on as a social meeting place, and is therefore not a great place to nurture and cultivate relationships. For the most part, LinkedIn users send and receive invitations to connect, and that’s it. Not really a whole lot of interaction after ‘I Accept‘. There are reasons for this shortcoming of LinkedIn, not the least of which is that LinkedIn was popularized by the business culture before social networking was introduced to the workplace. Younger business graduates who literally grew up on social networking with MySpace, and later, Facebook, have unintentionally introduced social networking to the business world. And my how things have changed…

Enter Facebook; the fasted growing social network environment on the Web. The fastest-growing demographic on Facebook is the 25-and-older crowd, with many of those listing ‘business executive’ as their background. And while it lacks the professional breadth of LinkedIn, Facebook has a strong suite of social tools that prompt interaction and breed familiarity. Facebook is good at what it does, which is to keep people connected and aware of each other.

There are those who scoff at throwing sheep at each other, or at sharing a favorite YouTube video of Billy Idol. And this type of goofiness is not always appropriate for every business. However, you’d probably be surprised at how many virtual karate chops resulted in a request to meet for lunch, and you would be hard pressed to name a deal that didn’t first get its start on a lunchtime napkin.

So the bottom line is this: you should have a personal LinkedIn account to keep your business associates apprised of your career status, and impressive corporate history. However, if you want to proactively touch the most people at the highest frequency with the least effort; get yourself, and your marketing team, on Facebook.

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One Comment

  1. Posted December 9, 2008 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    Excellent discussion. It is important to be involved with emerging technologies when you are in business for yourself. A couple points I see are:

    Linkedin actually has more social networking then you let on. Sure it’s easier for people on Facebook to “socialize” with each other. But Linkedin has question/answer discussions, professional groups, and now app’s for more networking than ever before.

    Facebook is more of a personal connection with specific interests that come to the forefront. This can actually get some people into trouble especially when you let some controversial positions get in the way of business.

    Another way I see it is Linkedin can appeal to left brained more and Facebook can appeal to right brained more, although this is not always the case.

    I always recommend people try their best to keep their linkedin network up to date as I see it as the best way to possibly get a new job through a connection down the road.

    But true, Facebook is the platform that is really expanding and especially if you are in the sales area it can be a great way to get the word out through viral marketing.

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