Why you should see Facebook as an multi-purpose platform

I had a debate with Eve Dmochowska recently about her choice of platform for a business group. She picked LinkedIn for the group and one of my initial thoughts is that I’d like to see the group on Facebook rather than LinkedIn. I have two reasons for this: the first is that I have an aversion to LinkedIn and see it as evil and the second is that I no longer see Facebook as just a social (as in personal) network but rather as a multi-purpose networking platform.

Eve essentially explained that she believes LinkedIn gives the group greater credibility as a business group given LinkedIn’s business focus (LinkedIn isn’t and will never be a social/personal networking site). I respect her and I understand her perspective. Eve is one of the smartest people I know in the SA social media space. She isn’t alone in her view that LinkedIn is a far better choice for business networking activities than Facebook. I was chatting to Gaby Rosario earlier today about her thoughts on the matter and I believe she feels similarly.

At the same time I have a different perspective of Facebook after long maintaining that Facebook isn’t a business networking tool. I remember having a conversation with Paul Walsh when he declared he was quitting LinkedIn in favour of Facebook. I didn’t agree with him and insisted that LinkedIn was a superior platform for business networking. Suffice to say my two reasons I mentioned above have persuaded me to change my mind about Facebook. Given what awaits us in the form of Facebook’s proposed governance structure I am also far more comfortable to invest my time and content in Facebook going forward.

What clinches it for me is this little graph and a post I just read about Facebook’s increasing prominence on the social Web, most likely alongside Google as its only real counterpart.

LinkedIn may be the single biggest business network but it looks pretty flat to me compared to Facebook’s dramatic rise depicted in this graph. While LinkedIn is hardly fading away (I still have an up to date profile on the service) I don’t see it as a focal point of my business presence online.

Facebook started off as a personal social networking site and that is its emphasis. At the same time it has much to offer businesses in the form of its pretty appealing Pages. I also read somewhere that we may see the introduction of personas that would allow Facebook users to present distinct personas based on their business and personal needs. Put all this together and you can’t help but see Facebook as a multi-purpose networking platform.

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