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Are the new Facebook apps really bad for LinkedIn?

June 28, 2011

Last week I polished up my LinkedIn profile. I’ve taken a crack at answering some questions, and thought about ways to connect.

To LinkedIn’s credit, they continue along the road of focussing on helping people find jobs. This month, they offered me a free upgrade to their $49 per month product. It allows me to tinker with the inner-workings of LinkedIn, and appears to be an effort to show me that I can get more than $49 of value out of it.

I’ll keep you posted.

I’m a big believer in the power of LinkedIn, and think people looking for a job can use it effectively. I call it the Yin to Facebook‘s Yang.  If Facebook is the place to show off how cool and fun you are, LinkedIn is the place to show off how professional and smart you are.

Both can, and should work together to form a picture of you.

This can also apply to a company, obviously. Facebook can be the place to show off how fun and interesting a brand is, whereas LinkedIn shows off the products, services, and combined smarts of the people.

They seemed to work together, but a couple of Facebook apps are looking to create a rift.

Image representing BranchOut as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

Introducing BranchOut and BeKnown 

These are third-party apps on Facebook that are trying to out-LinkedIn, well, LinkedIn.

BranchOut is a third-party application for Facebook. It allowed me to import my LinkedIn profile, and it was relatively seamless. According to BranchOut, “Matt is connected to 2,360 people at 1,680 companies.” It’s my business social network. BranchOut also offers badges (I have an early adopter one), and scores your profile. Mine is 80% complete. To get to 100%, I must invite people to BranchOut with me. I can post the following message to my Facebook wall:

“Matt wants your help to grow their professional network on BranchOut”

If I click on the companies, I’m delivered a list of companies that my Facebook friends have told to BranchOut. It’s not an impressive list, but presumably it will grow as people join this.

Importantly, I’ve never told anyone I was on BranchOut, but just this week I saw some activity on my profile as people connected to me. It has a head start, so maybe it can be the LinkedIn on Facebook.

Or maybe it will be BeKnown.

BeKnown was started by Monster, and it’s a Monster. Even with a dorky looking ‘bee’ as the logo, it too allowed me to import my LinkedIn profile. People can also import their Monster Profile, if they have one.

I do not currently have any connections on BeKnown, making me “not ever known”. I can post jobs, look for jobs, add interests, and complete tasks. Like many of the profile social networks, my profile completeness is scored. I currently sit at 85% complete. All I have to do is invite people to BeKnown with me, and I’ll get to 100%.

So what’s the deal? 

In a time where we have a business social network focused almost ruthlessly at helping people find talent, along comes the fun social network with apps that do the very same thing. LinkedIn has an open API, so pulling LinkedIn data can be written into the Facebook app. Is that good for LinkedIn?

People, even job seekers, spend way more time on Facebook than they do on LinkedIn. That’s partly because LinkedIn is kind of boring, on purpose. Remember, LinkedIn is the professional smart you. But that can be boring.

LinkedIn’s valuation comes from helping employers find people looking their shiniest and best. But if that shiniest, best look can be simply imported to a free app on Facebook, then where does that leave the newly public LinkedIn?

If I start using BranchOut and update that, do I t have to go and update LinkedIn as well? I think the world of LinkedIn, but I won’t do that. Normal people who still have “Company Website” on their profile might import their profile and never go back.

The question will be search. When I search people at my agency, LinkedIn comes up first. If BrandOut or BeeKnown come up in search, you should care. If LinkedIn keeps winning, you should focus on LinkedIn.

What do you think? Can you think of a reason why you should care about these apps?

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