I realize it’s a fairly cliche topic to post about the comparisons between LinkedIn and Facebook today. So, I’m not really planning to do it here. Or, I should state, I’m planning to do it but only to make a straightforward observation and point.
Anyone who knows me knows that I have been somewhat biased against the Facebook for quite some time. And, they’ve also likely known I appreciate the verticalized, professional network approach of LinkedIn.
But, seemingly against my will these days, I’m finding myself using Facebook more and more and LinkedIn less and less. The rationale has some to do with the fact that many of the people I interact with appear to be much more active in Facebook today. Even more so, the continued innovation and progress, product wise, of Facebook as compared to LinkedIn seems dramatically apparent to me now.
Facebook effectively became the de facto social utility platform several months ago when it made the move to open up its APIs for allowing users to integrate outside apps in to its network. I blogged recently about the business objective of developing a platform when it can be achieved and, in this case, the results appear to have been significant for Facebook. There is so much dynamic activity happening within the platform daily. My contacts are not only inviting new friends in to their network but they’re pinging me through the Facebook inbox, uploading pictures, joining groups, installing new apps and generating thousands and millions of page views for the network. One almost can’t help but be intrigued by the level of activity and sheer volume of things to do.
On the other hand, LinkedIn appears increasingly stagnant. I can see which of my contacts are adding new contacts as well as questions that are being asked, and answered, inside my network but, beyond that, what else is really happening with the product these days? I appreciate LinkedIn’s capabilities as a job hunting network, as Jason Calacanis talked about a few months ago, but beyond that, isn’t there other valuable things that can occur within the network? I’d be interested to hear about upcoming conferences, posting photos would be fine, joining groups would be great, Amazon commerce service integration could provide value and so much more seems possible. Conversely, the only features that appear present to generate repeated usage are items such as the Q&A, checking out who’s “viewed my profile” and one or two other occasionally updated items. Even in the case of the who’s “viewed my profile” feature, which honestly is a little sketchy anyway, I’m not sure it’s been getting regular updates in the LinkedIn database over the past two to three months.
There was a part of me that felt for a few months there that Facebook’s seeming growth in popularity was more about its near-daily coverage in blogs like TechCrunch than actual usage. At this point though, I’m realizing that’s not the case. I’m not ready to get on the Facebook bandwagon fully yet but, from a user perspective, I truly have come to appreciate the dynamic and powerful nature of their continued product development. And, the fact that they have outsiders at other companies achieving that goal for them makes it all the more impressive. LinkedIn is starting to claim that they, like Facebook, should open their APIs soon to acheive the same goal–they need to do something soon or the prediction I made three years ago about trendy networking sites like the Facebook going stale is actually going to happen to them first.