Facebook vs. LinkedIn for accounting professionals

Which nascent social network does it better for work-related connections?

Facebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them.

LinkedIn is an online network of experienced professionals from around the world, representing 130 industries.

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:

As well, there are groups aimed at the profession:

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?

6 thoughts on “Facebook vs. LinkedIn for accounting professionals

  1. Worth noting that Facebook is still predominantly American in its focus whilst LinkedIn has a much better international coverage. MySpace clearly steals the lead for social networking the Generation X community.

    What puzzles me is why FOAF (friend of a friend – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FOAF_%28software%29 ) has not been adopted by all of these social networking sites. Surely the benefits of linking all of our online social spaces is obvious and could result in an online ‘personality’ reflecting the many facets of a person?

    Until social networking agrees and adopts standards we will continue to have competing solutions, multiple profiles, varying degrees of completedness and missed opportunities to connect.

  2. The problem with these social networking sites is not the missing people but more the missing connections. I have created multiple profiles over the years on LinkedIn, Ecademy, Bebo, Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, Six Degrees and others I have forgotten, yet the real problem for me is being unable to replicate the content in a standard format or at the very least link the profiles.

    The Friend of a friend ( see FOAF on Wikipedia) project has been around for a number of years and has been largely ignored by the social networking phenomenon and following. A simple means of re-using profile data and re-purposing it is sitting waiting to be used but marketeers and developers have overlooked it.

    The web is all about connecting, Web 2.0 for all of its hype has failed to implement the most basic means to ‘connect’ and ‘engage’ the communities online.

    Until standards are applied then we resign ourselves to creating multiple profiles on multiple alumni, social networking and professional membership sites and in turn missing the connection opportunities the web can offer.

    Iain Simpson, Head of Knowledge Management and Online, BDO Stoy Hayward LLP

  3. Iain, thanks for your comments! :)

    You’re right about LinkedIn having a much more global footprint – I’m now noticing how many more Europeans in particular show up in search results.

    The FOAF thing is pretty cool, I’d never heard of it before.

    Seems that Jeremy Newman isn’t the only one at BDO Stoy Hayward that “gets” technology!

  4. It’ll be interesting to see if fcbk can take over the rest of the world or if it’ll just maintain one huge fiefdom in the (North) Americas…

  5. With the release of the API I don’t see how they could possibly fail to take over the world. All the functionality of LinkedIn could be replicated through Applications.

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