Ga-ga for Groups? LinkedIn is Lame, Facebook is Fantastic

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Ga-ga for Groups? LinkedIn is Lame, Facebook is Fantastic


I am on vacation in Norway for a couple of weeks (for those that are curious, I am on a farm about half an hour outside of Skien). 

Regular readers of OnStartups will likely know that sometime ago, I started a LinkedIn group so that those interested in startups would have another forum in which to gather.  Today, the LinkedIn group for OnStartups reached 1,000 members.  This is not too bad given that the community is "closed" and I manually approve all members.

However, I have been playing around with Facebook recently and I must say that I am very impressed with the application and the degree of flexibility it provides just with their basic "groups" feature.  Here are a few observations now that I have used both systems to some degree:

1.  Starting a group on LinkedIn required a manual application.  Nothing happened for the first couple of months.  I followed up again and resubmitted the application and finally the group was created.  Starting a group on Facebook took 30 seconds, 15 of which was figuring out how to navigate the Norwegian version of Windows that I happen to be using right now.

2.  LinkedIn provides no notification when new members have requested to join the group.  I have to login manually to figure this out.  I do this once a day or so and it is very annoying (and clearly unnecessary). 

3.  On Facebook, I have the ability to designate other administrators to help manage the group.  Though I do not need this just yet, I have a strong feeling that I will.  This is an exceptionally important feature.

4.  On Facebook, the feature-set available within their groups app is just much more compelling than LinkedIn.  However, this is not saying much because the LinkedIn groups feature is brain-dead.

5.  The only thing that LinkedIn provides that Facebook does not (that I miss a wee bit) is the ability to get a custom link that users can use to join the group.  It lets you send out email invites to friends to join (and invite those in your network), but a simple "join" link would be useful.  If I just happened to miss this feature, please leave a comment.

What is particularly impressive is that all of this functionality in Facebook does not even require building a custom Facebook app (though I will likely experiment with this someday).  It is really, really easy to get started.

So, if you are a regular reader of OnStartups, have joined the OnStartupsLinked group or are otherwise just a startup fanatic, I encourage you to join the OnStartups group on LinkedIn.  I think it will be a great way for the 7,000+ members of the OnStartup community to convene online. 

Update: Here is a link that I think should let you access the group:

Access OnStartups Facebook Group

P.S. It took months to get the LinkedIn startup group to 1,000 members. Lets see how quickly it grows on Facebook.

Posted by Dharmesh Shah on Fri, Aug 17, 2007


Thank you Darmesh for highlightening the deficiencies in Linkedin! The biggest problem with LinkedIn group is that it is not really a group. All that a “LinkedIn group” is a list. It does not have even the basic group communication features such as message boards, walls and a homepage. The most you can do with LinkedIn is connect with individuals one at a time. The power of any group is in its ability to foster relationships and discussions. I hope people at LinkedIn wake up and see how Facebook and similar social networking sites are eating into. I have a suggestion about OnStartups community. Creating a facebook group is a step in the right direction to create a community. But I feel the community is large enough and quite active (already 88 members on facebook, one discussion and 4 wall posts) to merit its own social networking site. I would recommend setting up a dedicated network site on They provide all the features of a social network with the power of creating your own brand (something like I am in the process of setting up one for my alma mater and I love it. You can also monetize it if you so choose to. Let me know if you need help, I will be glad to work with you.

posted on Friday, August 17, 2007 at 2:24 PM by Prasad Thammineni

Prasad: Excellent point.

I have actually looked into several of the social site platforms (including ning). Though this would indeed be a better way to build the OnStartups brand and get some cool features out to the community, my leaning towards something like Facebook is that there is already an "audience" out there (folks on the site already) and lots of people already know how to use it.

I will take a look at Ning again to see how it might contrast to Facebook in terms of features and such.

In fact, this entire exercise might be a good way to do some real world testing on each of the main platforms out there (good fodder for future articles)

Stay tuned...

posted on Friday, August 17, 2007 at 2:40 PM by

Dharmesh, I actually don't agree. For OnStartups LinkedIn seems a better bet than Facebook. The question really is who is the customer: the group creator or the group members? If it is the group creator then as your points suggest Facebook is better since it makes his life easier, but if the customer is are the group members who want to network with other people in the community who live close by or people in the community with specific specialties then LinkedIn is hands-down a better bet. Facebook is a great next step for a mailing list, where we read from multiple members and have some relationship already that we want to strengthen. But it seems that from a user standpoint this is really the 1 or 2 posters to this blog. As a self-interested person it is hard to justify spending time in the onStartups Facebook group. In contrast, there is the Found|Read site, where the site members are also posters, and therefore does make me want to get to know more of the community members.

posted on Friday, August 17, 2007 at 6:04 PM by Vineet

Hi Dharmesh, I'm writing on my blog a series of post about what linkedin groups are nowadays and what they should be... just take a look at it at: Hope you can read it. Great post!!! Fernando

posted on Monday, August 20, 2007 at 10:29 PM by Fernando Aramburu

Actually NING is a great platform for groups!!

posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 6:03 PM by Steven Chan MD

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