Is LinkedIn Walking A Fine Line?

November 18th, 2009 | by Jason Alba |

Last week I posted about LinkedIn & Twitter and got a very interesting comment from Charlie PA TPK:

I have to wonder about the direction LinkedIn is heading with these enhancements.

I am very protective about my online identity, so much so I use a pseudonym (as in this post) when I make my observations on policies, products and services.

When LinkedIn added photos, my initial thought was ‘Gee, just like MySpace and Facebook’. Now I see Twitter hooks.

When does a serious, employment-related social networking service end and another time-suck service (ala Facebook, Twitter) begin? I am not suggesting that LinkedIn has reached that point yet, but every time there’s a new hook like this, it moves closer.

This much I know: the day one of my LI contacts ‘pokes’ me will be my last on LI.

So, what should LinkedIn do?  I’ve heard comments like:

  • Facebook is trying to become more like Twitter,
  • LinkedIn is trying to become more like Facebook,
  • Twitter is trying to become more like Friendfeed….

Should each social network just be themselves?  I’m afraid I don’t see that happening – when one scores a grand slam with a feature, the others are sure to follow… and if that keeps up then eventually they’ll ALL look like one another.

I can’t imagine Facebook losing all of it’s “fun” “social” flavor and becoming more boring like LinkedIn (I mean that in a good way).

I can’t imaging Twitter adding all the stuff Facebook has – one reason Twitter was so succesful was because of the simplicity.

We have seen LinkedIn adopt many social features … the question will be, how far will they go?

My contacts on LinkedIn are different than my contacts on Facebook and/or Twitter.  I don’t care to have the same functionality with my LinkedIn contacts as I do on Facebook – do you?

I’m not privvy to any LinkedIn product design meetings – that would really be quite interesting. But I doubt they are going to aggressively pursue all of the fun stuff you see in other networking platforms… they seem to be very respectful to their users and want to add value to the process of finding and being found… not to connect everyone from 12 to 92 years of age.

What do you think?  Do you think you’ll walk away from LinkedIn if they add certain features (like Charlie says)?

  1. 10 Responses to “Is LinkedIn Walking A Fine Line?”

  2. By Christine Pilch on Nov 18, 2009 | Reply

    I couldn’t agree more. I have tweeted several times over the past few days that I don’t see the value in syncing my tweets and my LinkedIn status, as each serves its own unique marketing niche.

    I do post from TweetDeck to Facebook once or twice daily, as those two applications, and the connections on each, are more in sync.

    LinkedIn is indeed walking a fine line here. Many of my clients are on LinkedIn but have no interest in Twitter. Too many status posts, and especially those not directly related to work, will annoy them.

    I urge caution and discretion in utilizing this new LinkedIn feature.

  3. By Robert Clay on Nov 18, 2009 | Reply

    I can’t believe people don’t see the elegance of the linked-in and twitter integration. You can set it up so that only those tweets containing the hashtag #LI show up on LinkedIn. I may update my status twenty times a day on twitter, and I agree I have no interest in those tweets being published on LinkedIn. But I may also do one or two status updates a day that are relevant to LinkedIn. All I have to do is add the hashtag to those tweets, and they will automatically update LinkedIn. This is a great time saver. I’m all for it!

  4. By Greg Strosaker on Nov 18, 2009 | Reply

    My concern is that there will be some who over-update their LinkedIn status with irrelevant links (“hey, I’m reading this http://www.whateverwhateverwhatever.com). One update per day on LinkedIn is enough.

    I think if used correctly this is at best a slight time saver; before, I would simply copy a tweet and then paste it as a LinkedIn update. Now I get a hashtag to save maybe 2 steps. I guess what I’m saying is, what’s the big deal? It’s a simple functionality that is completely over-hyped.

  5. By Hudson Whitenight on Nov 18, 2009 | Reply

    This is a great post. Excellent points are made. Successful branding has always and will always be about differentiation, and LinkdedIn, Twitter and Facebook have worked hard to differentiate themselves and create unique niches. That is the beauty of the service they provide. There is value in using these services congruently, however, to market yourself and/or your business, but if the differentiation between them becomes undistinguisable, then it would only make sense to pick one of these resources. In my opinion, if they try too hard to become alike, they will create their own demise.

  6. By Kim Mohiuddin on Nov 18, 2009 | Reply

    As long as these applications remain optional, they are great for job seekers. As a career strategist, my concern is the ability of the job seeker to communicate their personal brand online. The more tools, the better. Picasso and Van Gogh both had access to similar palettes and used them to very different effect. I don’t think LinkedIn is in danger due to over-homogenizing, but even if they are, I don’t care. There’s no turning back from social media, and there will always be a digital career platform(s) of some kind. The ones that succeed will enable members to express themselves as fully as possible.

  7. By SM on Nov 18, 2009 | Reply

    Charlie,
    There is definitely a blurring of the functionality between the sites and I suspect much of it has to do with intense competition to carve out a niche, response to user preferences, and marketing. There are purists who insist LinkedIn should never include open networking – that it is intended for connecting with only people we know. There are probably those Twitter aficionados feel similarly about their space. My sense that this is almost purely free market driven – to each their own, and the consumer decides what works best for him/her. Best of luck…

  8. By Marggi Roldan on Nov 20, 2009 | Reply

    Just because a feature is there doesn’t mean you HAVE to use it!

  9. By Charlie on PA Tpk on Nov 30, 2009 | Reply

    My thanks to Jason for featuring my comment in one of his posts.

    While I concede LI will bend to market forces (as well it should, and I do encourage in a macro sense), I still do not have to necessarily like those changes.

    While I agree and recognize that the changes are indeed optional, it seems to me that many of the features cheapen the product (as SM mentioned, open networkers run contrary to the stated intent of LI, but are embraced by many). The photos feature, when initially offered, had mostly ‘passport’ style photos… now, many in my contacts now have funny photos. That’s not to say I lack a sense of humor (indeed, anyone can read my blog to see quite the contrary), but I would submit funny photos are for Facebook. Of course, my mileage will vary.

    Thanks for the discussion.

  10. By Jason Alba on Nov 30, 2009 | Reply

    Excellent comments, points and discussion, folks – thank you!

  11. By Lisa Simone on Dec 12, 2009 | Reply

    I think each should strive to maintain its own identify with the market each was intended to serve. Of course FB wants the best of LI’s features, etc., but if you are on one, then you are on several. Use each how it was intended. If you want to easily access several, use TweetDeck or something.

    I agree with Charlie – when I look for colleagues, job search, etc., I expect to see a professional profile, especially when I’m hiring someone. There is that expectation (at least now) at LinkedIn. Then I saw a former student post a profile picture in a suggestive pose and I contacted her to take it down because I knew it would hurt her job search.

    It’s the old “there’s a time and a place for everything.”

    My $0.02

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