Virality: Facebook vs. Linked In

Common wisdom agrees that LinkedIn is an appropriate social network for work–particularly around posting resumes, head-hunters, job listings etc. And similar common wisdom agrees that Facebook is a former college student outpost that is now heading into the mass market, with a focus on friendship, local, community–and all sorts of cool, diverse tools via that API.
So, of course, in the 8 months I’ve been on FB, I’ve seen my *friends* go from the close friends who had accounts and the web geeks I tribe with to just about everyone, from long lost buddies, to former co-workers, to friends’ kids, and so on–but there’s an increasing number of people I’d consider *work friends* or ‘a year ago they would have asked me on linkedin’ kinds of friends I get asked to add. (And then there are the people I don’t know at all, or who turns out to want to market me something, arrghh…)
Anyway, this got me thinking about virality and acquisition–and how FB does an intrinsically better job of helping a user acquire *friends* but how much more diverse and undefined by the service itself those friendships are (this is a good and a bad thing, right?)
Basically, I’ve been on LinkedIn for, oh, 4 years, and I have maybe 900 connections. I’ve been active on FB for 8 months and I have over 1,000 connections. Why?
My contention is that FGB is winning in virality for the following reasons:

  • Technology and design: Superior acquisition tools, like the friend finder
  • Generalities: More diffuse focus means more people feel free to request linking (aka friendship)
  • Community/affinity: People have a stronger interest in using FB in non-linear ways; ie demonstrating affinity through their connections (why else would anyone want to friend someone they don’t really know at all?)

I recognize this is also a discussion of niche/narrow vs. diverse/wide, but the acquisition question still holds value, IMHO. The much more rapid pace with which I’ve added Friends on FB reflects their amazing growth, but is also a construct for how connections fuel community and then unique visitors, traffic/PVs.
Any thoughts to share here?

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  1. Mary Ann Chick Whiteside says:

    I agree that the Facebook interface makes it easier to be ‘friends’ with someone then linked in does.
    More important to me is how Facebook lets me see what people are doing. What apps are they trying. What posts do they share. What are they reading.
    I want to be FB friends with people whose blogs I read, with industry colleague I respect ( and who may never remember because our contact was
    made long ago or is infrequent of they have 1,000 friends. )

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