Facebook vs other networks: Making it relevant to each of us

A lot of people are writing a lot of commentary about Facebook - how will it develop, where it fits in to business networking, will it replace email, is it the Next Big Thing, etc.

All weighty issues and worth paying attention to and contributing your opinions if you feel inclined.

For the moment, I’ve been quite content with reading all these differing views, just listening to what others have to say. The view that really caught my attention today, though, comes from Kevin Dugan.

What Kevin has done is compare the number of contacts he has on Facebook, LinkedIn and MyRagan where he shows the date he joined each network, how many contacts he has on each one over what period of time.

So for instance Kevin has 155 contacts in LinkedIn. It’s taken 3½ years to get to that number. In contrast, Kevin’s 101 Facebook contacts have taken him just one month.

Ok, hardly a scientific analysis but I think the way of looking at this from such an individual and personal point of view makes the whole conversation about these social networks far more relevant for each of us.

We can relate this into the bigger picture we’re reading about in blogs and, increasingly, mainstream media.

So in the same spirit as Kevin, here’s the breakdown of the people in my networks on Facebook, LinkedIn and MyRagan, as well as the Melcrum Communicators’ Network:

Network

It would be easy to say that this shows Facebook has faster growth than other networks. But that’s not true at all.

What this does show is something that wouldn’t be apparent just by observing a chart with numbers.

For me, it indicates that Facebook is a network I’ve paid a lot more attention to since joining it. A lot more than the attention I’ve given to LinkedIn over the years where I’m far more selective about who I connect with than with Facebook.

It also indicates I’ve paid less attention to the two networks that, on the face of it, are directly relevant to my profession and my professional interests – MyRagan and the Melcrum Network.

The friends I have in Facebook include many who I’m connected with at MyRagan and Melcrum as well as at LinkedIn.

What else does this indicate that wouldn’t be apparent just from numbers?

If I think about these networks, I come to conclusions like these as to why Facebook is so compelling, more than any of the other networks I’m part of:

  • It’s very easy to use
  • Lots of people I know are using it and more are joining all the time – every day I get messages to connect or join groups (actually, that’s a very double-edged sword)
  • It’s easy to discover people new to you and connect with them
  • I can easily connect with people in one place who aren’t necessarily in my area of professional interest
  • There are some very cool third-party applications to use with Facebook that no other network has
  • The informality of it all – and the perceived absence of any central control – is terrific

I’m sure there are other reasons too.

None of this is to say that I will stop using the other networks I participate in. What it does say is that I will be spending more time with Facebook and less time with those others.

Sooner or later, a crunch may come where I decide to go with the one that provides all I need in one place – the opportunities to connect and the opportunities to collaborate.

I wonder how long that will be.

About Neville Hobson

Entrepreneurial business communicator with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Co-host of the weekly business podcast For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report. Also an occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Follow me on Twitter and Google+.