Will Facebook and LinkedIn Collide?

By Paul Teshima in Networking

Many people say, “Facebook is for my personal network and LinkedIn is for my professional network”.  And yes, at the surface this makes sense. But if you look at how people use their networks, and how trust is built, I believe these two giants will collide.

 

The Tale of the Tape – Engagement Matters

Let’s first look at some comparative stats:

FB-LI

(Facebook source / LinkedIn source / *data sourced separately from Pew Research 2014)

You could say comparing these two social networks is like comparing apples to oranges, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that Facebook has 30x more engagement than LinkedIn. That level of engagement is a pretty powerful “asset” to leverage new products or services.

Now Jeff Weiner says that this metric is misleading because one of LinkedIn’s goals is to make you more productive, but 5 years after that interview, I see their content publishing play and app constellation strategy focused on generating more monthly engagement, not less.

Engagement matters and 45 million small businesses are already using Facebook Pages as their digital storefronts. What’s to stop them from innovating to move upmarket and generate more business value for more complex companies and business professionals?

 

bench-sea-sunny-man

Colleagues Become Friends, and Friends Become Colleagues

As you were growing up, your friends were based on family ties, age, and neighborhood location. However as time passed your friends became more diverse, and larger in groups: college, grad school, first job, second job etc. Take a quick look at your Facebook friends and see how many of them first started as work colleagues or business partners?

Mine came in at a whopping 47%, much higher than I thought it would be. Some of the best business connections for me have become good friends – why is that?

[Tweet “Trust is built on Business Intimacy…It’s the most effective way to build trust!”]

In a blog post last year, I highlighted one of the largest studies, surveying 12,000 people, on personal trustworthiness completed by Trusted Advisor Associates. In this survey they used a technique to determine both the perceived and actual importance of four components that make up trust:

  • Credibility
  • Reliability
  • Business Intimacy
  • Self-orientation

They found the trait of business intimacy ranked highest in effectiveness in building trust. Think of the business relationships you trust the most – do they just care about your business only? Or do they also care about you? Would you confide in them?

The truth is you start building a business relationship with business needs, content and discussions, but to grow the relationship you need to genuinely share more personal interests and passions.

 

road-streets-traffic-street

Their Roadmaps Are Converging

Facebook’s roadmap indicates a move to more business-oriented capabilities: Groups, Pages, and more importantly Facebook at Work. The ability to add co-workers, and only share work-related posts and content, seems more LinkedIn-like than not.

Facebook at Work’s strength is that we’ve spent ten years and incorporated feedback from 1 billion active users,” [Rasmussen, Eng Director of FB@work] says. “All of that is embedded now in the same product but adapted for different use cases.”

fbwork_press_newsfeed

(source: TechCrunch)

LinkedIn, on the other hand, encourages you to broaden your profile to include interests and experience outside of work. It reminds you to wish a happy birthday or happy work anniversary to your colleagues. They know that building trust requires a much deeper connection than just a digital resume and business content.

And just recently LinkedIn has revamped InMail, and come out with a messaging service that meets modern standards, including stickers and emojis! Now that is a clear sign they want their users to interact in a much more lightweight and social way.

linkedinmessangermobile

(source: LinkedIn Blog)

As people’s networks continue to expand, and social networks build out better ways to connect with that network, it will get harder to draw a line between personal and professional connections. And that, in my opinion, is a good thing.

 

What do you think about the fine line between personal and business relationships? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Paul Teshima
CEO and Co-founder