LinkedIn is a business network, and it should not be like Facebook! This war cry has become prevalent of late, and I will explain why I believe this is the wrong attitude. Before you sharpen the pitchforks and light the torches, please allow me to illustrate.

Let me start with why

Why does LinkedIn exist? By this, I don’t mean it’s a company with investors and market share, etc. I believe LinkedIn was the natural response to Facebook and Twitter. I remember LinkedIn launching in 2003 distinctly, as I had been an Executive Recruiter on Wall Street for several years. At the time, Facebook was primarily focused on people reconnecting, and sharing their personal stories. Twitter was the pulse of the global digital age. In many respects, both of those companies have stayed true to their beginnings. However, LinkedIn has a very different history. It was a social networking tool designed to help businesspeople connect and find quality candidates online. LinkedIn started as the 21st Century résumé on steroids, combined with essential business networking tools. That was well over ten years ago.

Let us fast forward to today

LinkedIn is no longer a résumé on steroids. It is a full social network of its own, with thousands of groups dedicated to particular business pursuits. If LinkedIn had continued with their original way of operating, they would no longer exist. I believe this is why LinkedIn bought Pulse, then Lynda.com, and encourages the LinkedIn publishing platform for all members. It’s also why the Newsfeed has been front and center for a few years, “commenting,” “sharing,” and “liking” are now the engagement numbers LinkedIn shares most often, and they encourage people to have as many views of their profile as possible. One can easily make the argument that LinkedIn started groups as a counterpoint to the millions of groups on Facebook which encompass every subject in which more than two people are interested. Additionally, LinkedIn has finally rolled out better, albeit still several generations behind, messaging tools. So, how is LinkedIn different than Facebook?

If LinkedIn had continued with their original way of operating, they would no longer exist.

What are Facebook and LinkedIn today?

Above, I described that Facebook began with a keen interest in allowing people to share their stories. However, now that Facebook derives the overwhelming percent of their revenue from advertising that is only partly correct. I had approximately 2,500 best friends on Facebook and saw updates from maybe 25 of them while being bombarded with an ad in every crevice of pixel space available. I have since whittled down my friend list to ~750 people (and falling). Regardless of Facebook’s attempts at optimizing EdgeRank, their Newsfeed algorithm for serving relevant stories, it’s hard to argue with its one billion plus MUA (monthly active users). LinkedIn has imitated Facebook’s Newsfeed, including likes, shares, and commenting. Ergo, why I have insisted that LinkedIn is not so different from Facebook. If LinkedIn is copying Facebook’s playbook, this is ample proof that that LinkedIn and Facebook are closer than kissing cousins.

LinkedIn has imitated Facebook’s Newsfeed, including likes, shares, and commenting.

But isn’t LinkedIn the business network of today?

My profession is online marketing, so I use Facebook’s tools to accomplish many aspects of my work. It’s easy to see how Facebook follows users around the Web. I’m sure you have seen ads displaying a product you were recently looking at online while on Facebook, and vice versa. So does LinkedIn. Facebook leverages data, to offer ads for things they believe are relevant. So does LinkedIn. Facebook makes messaging between users easily available. So does LinkedIn, albeit they have a long way to go. Granted, Facebook has, perhaps, the most obnoxious app in the history – Facebook Messenger. However, no one can argue with their exceptional success and continued revenue growth. Facebook is here to stay and has the desire, will, and fortitude to experiment while weathering any storm. This liberty is a luxury few companies can boast.

Perhaps Microsoft most values LinkedIn as a way to promote their services to decision makers at businesses while growing the social network they were never able to accomplish?

Succinctly, the only consumer technology company more successful than Facebook right now is Apple. That is neither a “bold” statement nor a “prediction.” If you are unfamiliar with Facebook’s remarkable earnings, revenue, Year-Over-Year Growth and Profits, then check out the Wall Street Journal’s research ratings and this outstanding TechCrunch article.

If you believe that Facebook is not researching, and trying, every possible way to put LinkedIn out of business, you would be wrong.

I’m confused! Is this post about LinkedIn or Facebook?

It’s about both. LinkedIn must be more like Facebook to compete with Facebook. If you believe that Facebook is not researching, and trying, every possible way to put LinkedIn out of business, you would be wrong. The fact that LinkedIn is not only in business, but is thriving, is a testament to the fact that LinkedIn has welcomed the challenge, and is succeeding so far in the battle for businesspersons’ eyes and hearts. This war is in its infancy.

All of this means that LinkedIn needs to be the Facebook of the business-minded, while at the same time, carving out a unique accessibility to decision-makers in a way that no other social network can. Are meme’s of cats flushing toilets relevant to business? I would say, probably not. However, sharing your story and beliefs is what will attract like-minded individuals to you.

LinkedIn still offers the best way to find and communicate with people that believe in what you believe.

What about leveraging LinkedIn?

Groups are the ideal place to focus your energy on specific business areas. LinkedIn’s connections tools allow you to find the right decision makers. Blog posts allow you a unique way of expressing yourself while sharing your specialized knowledge and beliefs. LinkedIn’s Newsfeed is the place to share relevant information and show what makes you unique.

Not everyone is going to believe in your story. Not everyone will agree with your beliefs. That is called Life. However, LinkedIn still offers the best way to find and communicate with people that believe in what you believe. There is great power in what you can accomplish on LinkedIn, which is why I choose to make it the focus of my business.

LinkedIn Groups, connections tools, and blog posting are the ideal place to focus your energy on specific business areas and allow you to find the right decision makers.

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