Facebook started as the personal page for students of American colleges. LinkedIn started as the professional page for their parents. With market caps of $58.78 billion and $19.97 billion, respectively, it is clear that both Facebook and LinkedIn have a come a long way over the last 8-9 years. But what have they become? Why do you log into each?
I joined Facebook in 2006 with the purpose of sharing jokes with my friends, and I joined LinkedIn in 2010 with the purpose of gaining a “serious” job. But now that my networks have developed – there is a lot of overlap – my friends are my connections and connections are my friends.
Today the truth is that the average age of the Facebook user is 40.5, and the average of the LinkedIn user is 44. What is the difference between what a 40 year old and a 44 year old talks about? As both companies approach saturation point – solely in terms of number of American users – I believe we are seeing a deviation to the mean in terms of content shared within the platforms.
Today, there are three reasons I log into each Facebook and LinkedIn: (1) news, (2) fun & (3) meeting people.
Firstly, it’s news. When it comes to breaking the news, both LinkedIn and Facebook continue to gain market share (and Twitter too of course), and there is only so much news, which makes overlaps in status updates inevitable. When news breaks – whether it’s national news or the news of my friends – I often learn about it from my social networks. I mean your network talks about what your network talks about. On what website did you hear and read about the Zimmerman verdict? Or the Boston Marathon bombings?
Facebook has changed the way we consume news. It is the updates for the people and companies we friend and like. A good social network is the pulse of who we choose to be connected to online.
LinkedIn has increasingly built features similar to Facebook in order to make it a more socially friendly place: text updates, image updates, people tagging, and company pages. With the addition of company pages, the public has been given a direct line of communication to any given company. Where will the potential customers and potential hires choose to communicate with your company?
In the long run, Facebook and LinkedIn learn from each other. Will LinkedIn continue to follow Facebook’s social networking features and build a feature like LinkedIn instant messaging? Or, will Facebook start following LinkedIn’s use of the editorial line and build a feature like Facebook Today?
Secondly, it’s fun. When it comes to fun, LinkedIn is becoming more like Facebook. At least it seemed like it this week. It’s kind of like whatever the software, or place, my friends will share what they want to share. A friend from college (a funny writer) created Exhibit A:
These days on LinkedIn – while I’m connecting to business professionals, sharing my professional thoughts, and reading professionally produced content – more of my friends are messing with me as they used to on Facebook. Oh Erika, how nice of you to endorse me!
Additionally, an anonymous source told me a story: man marries woman, and the next day woman endorses him for “Strategic Partnerships.”
Thirdly, I use Facebook and LinkedIn to meet people. Yes, I use LinkedIn more to set business meetings and Facebook more to set personal meetings. But I also use LinkedIn to meet colleagues outside of work, and Facebook to set up work meetings. Increasingly, as VP of Path Matt Van Horn said at a recent SmartRecruiters event, people are Facebook friending all their business connections.
Friending people who you do business with is not a black and white moment. Your friends can become your future hires, investors, customers, or business partners. Your colleagues, investors, customers and business partners can become your future friends.
Both Facebook and LinkedIn want you to grow your network – often promoting the user to import email contacts – and they have very similar algorithms to suggest “People You May Know.”**
And don’t think that Facebook isn’t also learning from LinkedIn. The LinkedIn InMail – the ability to pay ≈ $10 to message anyone – was followed by the Facebook pay-to-message feature, where the cost to message a stranger (depending on the size of their network) ranges from $1-15.
**Facebook and LinkedIn also have a similar algorithm and functionality to connect people with companies. When you like a page on Facebook, you receive a prompt of “Get Updates From Similar Pages” and when you view a company page on LinkedIn, the right hand column advertises “People Also Viewed” X companies. LinkedIn and Facebook both want you to like and follow as many companies as possible in order to host the exchange of information from company to person.
So what does this have to do with recruiting? It’s hard to recruit people without knowing their information. Today, the information about your talent, accomplishments, networks and ambitions are – more than anywhere else – stored on Facebook and LinkedIn.
The SmartRecruiters mindset is that candidates are already keeping their professional information somewhere (LinkedIn, Facebook, your own site, etc.), and our job application is here to let you choose – and quickly share – the information source that best fits the job you are interested in. The application process should be only a few moments: connect with Facebook/LinkedIn, write short (tweet-style) message to the hiring manager – and just like that – interest in job expressed.
The simple of it is this: more of my friends are connections, more of my connections are friends, and more businesses are in my newsfeed. Oh to be connected to your friends!
David Smooke is Director of Social Media @SmartRecruiters, the hiring platform with everything you need to source talent, manage candidates and make the right hires.