Facebook vs. LinkedIn: 5 Key Differences In Etiquette

Increasingly I observe that people are using Facebook in addition to LinkedIn for professional networking, albeit of a subtler kind. It's the natural thing to do, as well as the strategic one, for the reasons outlined here.

If you want to boost your use of Facebook for professional branding, here are some basic cultural differences between the two platforms to keep in mind.

1. Trust: The universal currency of social media is trust. On Facebook, it's trust that you're a decent and honest person - a mensch. On LinkedIn, it's trust that you know what you are talking about, as measured by your level of stature and/or wealth. If you're a mensch as well, that's a bonus. This distinction alone is reason to focus your efforts increasingly on Facebook-based networking, because people prefer to do business with those they feel positively about. Generally speaking, being a good person enhances the likelihood of this happening.
2. Status: Facebook favors the humble person striving to be more than their challenging circumstances would dictate. LinkedIn favors the person, humble or not, who has amassed an impressive portfolio of professional accomplishments. Again, this is a reason to focus your efforts more on Facebook than on LinkedIn, because anyone can meet the first criteria versus few can truly own the second.
3. Emotion: On Facebook, it's a positive thing to share your passion for causes you care about. LinkedIn favors dispassionate discussions of topics related to professional expertise. Where passion is "allowed" it's normally about improving some facet of the workplace. One is always conscious on LinkedIn that a boss, potential boss, or partner could be watching. Even the most stilted and self-conscious person can manage some level of emotion on Facebook, because it can be accomplished through posting or sharing a photo or other graphic that expresses an emotion that one agrees with. Yet a third reason to migrate toward FB.
4. Expansiveness: Facebook is about displaying one's dimensionality as a human being. Therefore, multiple kinds of sharing are encouraged. Unless they're promoting a product, service, or cause, people who focus only on one thing are seen as a bit obsessive. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is about brand specialization and focusing on a single area of expertise is a positive. Unless you are a one-note pony, a fourth reason why Facebook suits most regular people.
5. Boundaries: Facebook is about being the same person at all times. That is the source of your authenticity - that you don't "put on a face" depending on which environment you're in. As a practical matter this means mixing the personal and the professional. LinkedIn is about keeping the two worlds separate, and excessive sharing of personal matters is frowned upon just as it is in the workplace. As a practical matter, life and work commingle frequently, so Facebook wins out on this count as well.
Photo by Andrea Costa Creative via Flickr (Creative Commons). All opinions are the author's own.

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