LinkedIn is a different type of company. They are going for a more professional level of user. You're right in that it may never reach the same level of popularity as a platform like Facebook, but it will be much more valuable to the niche market it's trying to serve.
Would you want to provide a professional recommendation for someone who started a virtual food fight? Can you take a job posting seriously from someone who gets vampire points for every person who looks at their profile?
Facebook and LinkedIn are targeting different markets, and I think the approach each is taking is the right one for their model.
Creativity and open platforms are great... but Facebook is just plain childish. Maybe someday it will be great, but for now it is just not appropriate for business users. This is the blog article I wrote complaining that Facebook needs to graduate, get a real job and grow up.
One of the problems I see with the LinkedIn model is in defining their target customers. The idea of a strict "professional" market is flawed. Professionals have lives too and such a strict definition will underserve not only their customers, but the business will stay artificially small. For example, Professionals use their email for work and life, they use their cars for work and life, etc.
One potent tool that these social networks have yet to employ is pricing > 0. That may be the better way to serve everybody, while segmenting the market to provide a better experience for some.
Many professionals do not want to mix their professional and personal lives when it comes to social networks. I don't want my hilariously inappropriate friends leaving public messages/pictures/videos in a place where the CEO of my company - or our clients' companies - can see them.
I have two separate Facebook accounts. A locked down one for friends and a public one for coworkers and business associates.
@Wayne: Yep, I agree. The user can segment THEIR audiences themselves. It would be interesting to know what % of Facebook users have multiple accounts for this purpose or other ad-hoc purposes. If substantial user-created segmentation with new accounts, then the network with the most features wins. Also that sheds light upon unique customers vs total accounts.
However, I still think there is a role for price to play to offer a better experience to some targets, like Work, in the mist of one size fits alls.
Fascinating. LinkedIN is clearly placing a big financial bet that they can increase their viability and value by catering to corporations need for social networking help. The major collaboration companies (IBM, MSFT and others) have been trying to bring LINKIN collaboration to the enterprise for years with lack luster results. I am a user and fan of LINKED in- free, easy, unobtrusive and a nice set of functionality for connecting me to others. But I dislike when people censor information- as a natural collaboration guy- I believe that information finds its own niche; and any way to artificially influence that is ultimately flawed. In the 21st century, mobs rule, WE THE PEOPLE have the power to determine what we want and don't want (and the technology supports that). If I was LINKED IN I would do both; a strict rules version and a open version and capture the entire market.
we're aiming to get a more useful app on facebook one day -- textworks would be helpful and fun. you can read more about it on our site! would you be interested in linking to one another?