Facebook vs LinkedIn? Which is The Better Self-Marketing Tool?


Ok, let’s just jump right into the fray. Which is a better social media platform for business people who need to market themselves? And by this, I would also include those who are conducting a job search.

Facebook is obviously the bigger kid on the block with much more muscle to flex when it comes to building a social network online. But LinkedIn has its fans too, and seems to especially target business people. LinkedIn reputedly has the added advantage of being a place where corporate headhunters lurk in order to find high value talent.

One thing I especially like about LinkedIn is that it provides a visual representation of the “Six Degrees of Separation” concept. If you look someone up - assuming that person is on LinkedIn as well - you can often find that they are connected to someone you are connected to... or connected to someone one of your contacts is connected to, etc. This visual landscape of connectedness can be very valuable as you can then ask your contacts to make introductions for you via their system.

Another big plus going for LinkedIn is that it displays a person’s profile and references at the click of a mouse.

All this means that if you are on the buying side of a transaction, you can easily use LinkedIn to seek out quality vendors and get recommendations from people in your network.

But for the self marketer, there are a number of flaws that I find in LinkedIn’s system. The first is that it is very difficult to add new people to your first level of contacts. Obviously this is done for the purpose of preventing a lot of unsolicited sales pitches, but as we will see, there may be a better way to accomplish this purpose.

Like all such platforms, LinkedIn gathers most of your first level of contacts from your email address book. The trouble is that many people I network with are no longer people I communicate with by email. I have met a great number of people using other platforms, such as my blog, Twitter or Facebook. We may communicate with each other quite a bit, but I just don't have their email addresses handy.

Contrast this to Facebook, which provides a button that I have placed on my blog. If someone wants to “friend” me on Facebook, they just have to click the button and send me a friend request.

If I want to “friend” someone else on Facebook, I just have to search for that person and send them a friend request. I can add a small comment to tell this person that what we have in common or where we met, etc. Then that person has the option of confirming or ignoring my friend request.

If I want to add someone to my LinkedIn contacts, I have to send a message to an existing contact who must then send an introduction to the person I want to contact. (I don’t think LinkedIn allows for third or fourth level introductions, but I am willing to be corrected if someone knows better).

Let’s contrast both of these to Twitter, which is the 800 pound gorilla when it comes to ease of adding new contacts. In an excellent article, 7 Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Twitter’s Success, Rohit Bhargava, points out that enabling users to “Skip the Extra Step” is one of the reasons Twitter has grown so quickly.

Admittedly, Twitter has one purpose and Facebook/LinkedIn have another. I use Twitter’s fast growth capabilities to attract people to my Facebook page and to my blog. But I like the control Facebook gives me to ignore some friend requests if I choose. On the other hand, LinkedIn’s process is just ridiculously onerous, in my opinion.

Another big factor tilting the scales in Facebook’s favor is the ease of joining or creating Facebook groups. These groups can be formed around a common purpose, which is an awesome way to expand one’s network.

If you become an active participant in such a group, you can then send friend requests to various members of the group based on a common interest. Although LinkedIn also has groups, the “Extra Step” they require to reach out to fellow members and add them to your contacts makes them practically useless.

I am well aware that some of you may have strong opinions on this subject and may even (perish the thought) disagree with me. If so, I welcome your comments.

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2 comments:

March 16, 2009 at 8:28 AM Michael Askjær said...

Hi there
I guess that the process on LinkedIn is helping people to have some trust in the links. Friends on FB could some people de anyone interesting - and for other only close personal friends - the difference makes the of the friends-links less.
And yes - FB, Twitter and your blog can generate interest in you - and perhaps LinkedIn connections.
On the other hand - self-marketing - if that is about building your personal brand - then a huge group of fans or followers must count for something...

March 16, 2009 at 1:06 PM Charles Brown said...

Maybe that is the reason LinkedIn has such a barrier, but it certainly causes a number of other problems, I'm not sure it is worth it.

Good thought, though.