By their own definitions, these two utilities target slightly different types of users. Facebook of course began at Harvard and then expanded to other universities and colleges, and then opened itself up to everyone else. LinkedIn is open to everyone, but is tightly focused on where you work or have worked, not where you live or went to school.
Because of LinkedIn’s focus, it’s easy to connect with current and former colleagues. You fill in your details and LinkedIn does the rest, providing a list of people registered on the site who have the same employer(s) listed.
On Facebook, where you live, where you went to school, and where you work are called “networks”. I’m in the Toronto and Brock University networks. But the problem with Facebook is that it is limited in terms of workplace networks.
Right now, my firm isn’t on Facebook, so I can’t join that particular network since it doesn’t exist. Facebook does provide a way to suggest new networks, but so far the suggestion I’ve made to add my firm has gone ignored.
The problem for me (and no doubt others) with LinkedIn is that there just isn’t as many people I know on it as Facebook. I have over a hundred friends on Facebook, and I have 3 “connections” on LinkedIn. Clearly for me Facebook is the better tool.
And there are ways to network using Facebook even if your employer isn’t available. Anyone can start a group on Facebook for any reason (no matter how spurious), and there are many related to jobs. For instance:
I think what’s interesting about these groups is they’re started and populated by the young people in those firms. As they progress within their firms and take on more responsibility for things like hiring, Facebook may become even more important for job seekers.
Both networks provide value to their users, that much is clear. I wish I had more contacts on LinkedIn, so that the value of the site to me was higher, but that will just take time. As more of my colleagues learn about LinkedIn, it will grow.
As far as features go, LinkedIn trumps Facebook. But for pure numbers and flexibility, Facebook wins out.
What do you think?
I'm a Chartered Accountant working in internal audit.