Is Facebook Going Down The Tubes? And What Can Linkedin Learn From This?

By Dennis D. McDonald

Linkedin’s recent announcement about opening up to developers may also open it up to what is happening to Facebook.

As Facebook works through its own “opening up,” becomes more unmanageable, and lurches in the direction of MySpace, will this be an opportunity for another “clean” no frills social networking site to arise? Or will Facebook’s current problems just be another example of the churn that inevitably develops when social networking tries to be too many things with too many people?

That’s the challenge that Linkedin will need to manage. Mark Evans’ Five Things That Could Kill Facebook captures my concerns about Facebook quite nicely and reflects what I’ve seen myself recently as my use of Facebook has expanded. 

Here’s my own Facebook list:

  1. Spam is increasing.
  2. Ads are becoming more visible.
  3. The previously clean interface is becoming more complex.
  4. I’m getting “friend” requests from people I  don’t know. (That by itself is not bad, but often when  I visit their profile there’s nothing there. I’ve taken then to checking them out on Linkedin.)
  5. I can’t figure out what half the applications are that I’m being asked to “share.”

While I think that treating a social network as a “platform” makes a great deal of business sense — increasing value to members increases “stickiness” — some of the applications being offered provide functionality that seem hobbled by the targeting of members only. This “walled garden” impact ultimately reduces the free flow of information across the web and reduces participation’s value to me. (Why should I write a movie review for Facebook if I can publish my own for open access by all?)

Now, it’s perhaps too early in Facebook’s “open platform” phase to really know if this will be good or bad for its members. For me, I have my doubts as I’ve noted above, and I hope Linkedin thinks long and hard about what else it offers to its members.

Before Linkedin  opens itself up to external developers and systems, I wish they would upgrade the internal networking capabilities of the system. It’s silly, for example, for Linkedin members to have to continue using using systems such as Yahoo! Groups for group activities (and I’m a moerator on the Yahoo! group Linkedin Bloggers). If I were Linkedin that’s where I would start — and I’d study Facebook’s experience in this area quite carefully.

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Reader Comments (8)

Don't like the app polution on FB? Then block the apps.


This is the 2.0 Web. The user is in control! :-)
July 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Henderson
The noise and actions that lead to convergence is heating up fast. Just consider the last thirty days of announcements: Google, Facebook, Linkedin, MSN, IBM and others ( I can hardly keep up anymore). Soon it won’t matter which existing network “you” think is better rather value will be created by how you manage “your network“. As more and more closed systems open, it begins to interact more directly with other existing systems, and therefore acquires all the value of those systems.

Soon we will all be overwhelmed with an abundance of value proposition in which you’ll need to decide how and what to use in “your” network to meet your personal and professional aims. You will soon become your own aggregator of networks, of relationships, of information, of knowledge and last but not least…of VALUE.

Technology provides the means, relationships provide the value.

The Relationship Economy is now, not when, being built by individuals who learn how to maximize the value of relationships by optimizing technology. We’ll need to forget what we’ve been using and think “how” to adapt to the convergence of means which enables us to maximize value. We need to ReThink our methods and ReShape the means so we can individually and collectively capture the most value.

Here are seven things to consider and help you start thinking and planning for “your” network:.

1) Which networks do you want fed to your network? Which has your interest, value, the best collection of individuals and the content which match who you are? etc. etc.

2) Which networks represent your interest geographically, by industry and by topic? Which blogs represent the same categories of interest? etc. etc.

3) What will be the rules of your network? Standards for connections? RSS feeds in and out? etc. etc.

4) What image and brand do you want your network to project? Think hard and long on this one. Lots to consider as you build your value proposition to the global market.

5) What mediums do you want in your network? Video, audio, pictures, etc. What Network Channels will be available that interest you most both personally and professionally?

6) What do you specifically want to accomplish with your network? Start with this end in mind and build towards it. Again, lots to think about.

7) Your network is an economic factory. How do you produce quality and quantity effectively?

The list can go on and on but this is a start for you to begin to Rethink your vision, mission strategy and tools for your network. Soon we’ll have a personal planning guide, materials, technology and access to experts who can help you plan your “Link to Your World“.

Are you ready? What is your plan? How will you adapt? How will you “Link to Your World?”

When is Now: Shift Happens, What say you?
July 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJay Deragon
Jay, I would start with the people, not the networks.
- Dennis
July 22, 2007 | Registered CommenterDennis D. McDonald
Facebook is letting the market forces determine what apps come in and survive. With 30 millon users and estimates to double that number within 12 months means that it needs a variety of apps for different audiences.

The Facebook member controls what apps they install and where it shows up on their profile. Facebook also provides the ability to create very narrowcasted groups.

Facebook even lets its members determine whether they want to post the use of the application in the newsfeed,again controlling some level of privacy.

I don't see the pollution. I see Facebook embrace the roadmap to "personalization".

Andrew Kaplan
July 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Kaplan
I share your concerns on all five points. I do not feel that I am making good use of my time by being a stooge for Facebook to experiment with different possibilities for social networking. I agree that LinkedIn could make some smart moves in the direction of helping members interact, but whether it is Facebook or LinkedIn or Xing or whatever, my wish is to have a stress-free way to interact with like-minded professionals and not have to start each day by figuring out whether there is some possibility that I "know" this person just out of university in a place I have never visited and who has maybe just bought the line that you can never have too many connections.

I suspect, as you seem to, that Facebook has become so open that it is about to become as collegial and intellectually stimulating as a crowded local swimming pool in high summer.

I'll hang in with Facebook, but my patience is wearing thin. I do hope LinkedIn doesn't lose its corporate marbles in the rush to be "open".
July 22, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDes Walsh
I also hope LinkedIn doesn't lose its professional slant when it opens up. That's the only reason I'm a member, to have a way to connect to professional contacts.

If it tries to become Facebook then I think it will fail.
February 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJG

I share your opinion. I too appreciate your opinion about the professional focus of Linkedin and I don't really look to it for "group interaction."

March 1, 2008 | Registered CommenterDennis D. McDonald
check out how not to use linkedin @
February 11, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterduktu

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