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:


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.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Kevin Dugan

    Neville – This is great. There’s definitely a lot behind the numbers. Many of the conclusions you’ve made here point to the real story behind my numbers as well.

    It’s coincidental but interesting that our numbers are similar as far as LinkedIn having the most connections and our industry networks having the least.


  2. neville

    If anyone else in our respective networks does a similar comparison, Kevin, I bet we’d see a similar picture.

    What does it all mean, though? :)

  3. Dennis Howlett

    I’m keenly aware that tech folk live in a fashion led cocoon. Some reports indicate that SMBs for example see little value in Facebook. Siemens on the other hand has 6K of its employees in there. Microsoft is reported to have 17K.

    I agree with Neville’s conclusions but to the question: what does it all mean: people want a place where they can safely co-mingle their online and offline identities in an environment where they get to choose what apps are appropriate to their lives.

    Interestingly and despite all the talk about ‘black holes’ FB doesn’t seem to be suffering. Indeed, I see this as an attraction for business types.

    Equally however, I see it a a version 1.0 for business. I don’t believe we’ve begun to tap the power of FB (or it’s successor) as a metaphor for business portals.

    I would argue whether LinkedIn is a ‘network’ in the same way but that may be nit picking. One thing’s for sure, they seem horribly slow to respond.

  4. Jeremy Jacobs

    Suggest you take a look at Graham Jones’s site GJ he’s just posted about “Wink” which aggregates one social networks. This maybe the way forward until something else arrives on the scene.

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