The other day I was updating my LinkedIn contacts and I ended up sending a wide broadcast email asking friends and associates to join my LinkedIn network. I like LinkedIn and I use it as a way to keep in touch with a broad network of people with whom I’ve worked in the past. We also use it for recruiting and sometimes sales.
I’d setup a Facebook profile several months ago in response to an invitation, but I’d left it blank and never spent much time on the site. I’d noticed a steady up-tick in my rate of Facebook invitations during the past few months, so I’d been thinking about taking a serious look. In addition, I’d read about Facebook’s strategy to become a “platform” (whose meaning was not immediately clear to me in the context of a social networking site) so investigating it was rising on my to-do list.
But it was only after receiving multiple responses to my broadcast email of “dude, LinkedIn is Facebook for dinosaurs” that I decided that I needed to do something. I’m pleased to report that I now have a complete Facebook profile, about 50 friends (compared to 450 on LinkedIn), and I must say I really like the site. Why?
- It combines the best aspects of LinkedIn (e.g., biography, contacts, contact network, friend finding) with those of MySpace (messaging, updates, photos)
- Unlike MySpace, it’s not loaded with spam sites and flashing lights.
- It has groups and networks that you can (easily) join and leave
- It has a certain hominess that blurs personal and work lines
- It has both Facebook-provided apps (e.g., calendar, photos) and user-provided ones (this is the platform part)
- It has a clean, simple user interface
In fact, my only reservation about Facebook relates to one of the things I currently like about it — the work/personal life blurring. Amongst my current friends I have former co-workers, Mark Logic customers, high school friends, a board member, some industry analysts, current employees, and even my High School aged son. That’s cool.
While that’s cute and homey, it’s already created some awkwardness. After my son starting using a user-provided “compare people” app on me, I decided to use it on my friends and was quickly asked questions like “who has a better body?” comparing a current customer with a former employee. Not good. Mercifully, there was a “skip” button of which I made prodigious use.
So one nice thing about LinkedIn is that it’s purely professional, at least as I’ve set it up. Going forward I think Facebook will need to provide a “role separation” solution and hopefully they will do a better job at it than Amazon, which still gives me recommendations for children’s books and golf balls based on my buying them — for others — in the past.
In playing with Facebook, I realized something else: I really like their focused marketing strategy. Instead of a general, broad attack, they started out with one segment (university students — actually barring others from joining for years), established dominance in that segment, and then expanded from there.
So, call me a fan. Given the potential to become a serious platform, replace email communications, and hide lots of content from Internet spiders in so doing, I think everyone should check it out.
In addition, I’d recommend this post, which provides an excellent introduction and overview — Web Strategy: What the Web Strategist Should Know About Facebook.