Facebook vs. LinkedIn

Last week I was in a meeting where a “choice” of social networking sites came up. I said I’d found Facebook more engaging than LinkedIn. Another participant said that she didn’t see value in Facebook, but found herself spending lots of time on LinkedIn.

Now our approaches to social networking sites are quite different. I work out of the house and don’t mind a bit of “chatter” about personal lives seeping into the networking discussion, particularly since my “persona” in Facebook is as an AAUW leader encouraging engagement among members from across the country. She has a small business (where she gets enough of that “chatter”) and is using LinkedIn to recruit new employees, and so it’s the professional information that’s important to her.

Here’s an attempt to compare/contrast those two platforms, and move towards an understanding of what goals are met by participating in one or the other or both.

  1. It’s easier to approach strangers in Facebook.
    • In LinkedIn you cannot send a message to someone new without using an “introduction” through one of your connections or through a group in which you are both members. Almost no one posts an e-mail address or other contact information that is visible to the public.
    • In Facebook you can message anyone who hasn’t explicitly chosen to stay “unreachable.” In the Facebook culture, almost everyone stays open to connections from strangers, so if you find someone with a common interest, it’s possible to communicate with them, even if you (or they) do not choose to establish a “friend” connection.
  2. It’s easier to integrate nonprofit goals in Facebook
    • There’s a richer set of applications (e.g. causes, change.org, changing the present), that integrate with Facebook profiles and encourage friend-to-friend information sharing about nonprofit goals.
    • While memberships, board service, and other non-profit activities can be listed on LinkedIn profiles, they aren’t supported in the same way as on Facebook
  3. There are different ways to find people by skill/interest
    • Both systems encourage users to list profile information. Facebook’s default is skewed to the personal, not professional, but it does have extensions that cover resume-type information, though it’s not clear how that information could be searched.
    • In Facebook, it’s easy to set up skill/interest based groups and it’s possible to find people by their contributions on those groups.
    • LinkedIn’s Q&A setup may serve some of the purpose of the Facebook groups in identifying people by their participation patterns.

I’ll add more as things come to me. Please comment or contact me if you’ve got other thoughts.

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