Facebook wants to join your professional network

Facebook’s announcement that you will be able to separate your personal and professional networks is a major threat to LinkedIn.
Facebook’s strategic advantages are formidable.

  • More people you know are likely to be on Facebook, which has ten times the unique visitors of LinkedIn. In August, they added as many users as visited Linked In that month, according to Compete.com
  • Facebook is optimized for communication, increasing users’ interaction with the service, time online, and likelihood of discovering one another.
  • Facebook’s opening up to developers has been a huge hit with developers and users.
  • Facebook’s popularity with college students means that likely networkers entering the workforce already have the networks there.
  • How many social networks do you want to belong to? In 2008, everybody’s going to be introducing social networking features in their sites. Users will limit the number of networks they cultivate.

LinkedIn is not without resources. The site is clearly optimized for exploiting professional networks and for making contact with friends of friends and searching for contacts by employer. Its large and loyal customer base will be reluctant to switch. Facebook’s collegiate roots still show, and many of their applications are so silly and trivial that it sometimes seems like a MySpace for anal retentives. Many people I know aren’t ready to move their professional networks to MySpace.
Inertia gives LinkedIn a small window in which to respond to Facebook’s strategic threat. I hope they use it wisely.
Originally published on my blog at JupiterResearch.