Comparing Facebook vs. Linkedin vs Xing vs. Twitter (UPDATED JULY 23, 2009)
International mobility at a moment’s notice has become the norm in the globalized world for the younger generations. Until recently one thought one was up to date with technology with an e-mail address and a cellular telephone. Not anymore. Registering oneself in any of the aforementioned web page or a similar competing service is increasingly becoming a must to stay interconnected in the age of information, and information in the 21st century as we know is a synonym of power.
We do not know our physical neighbors because we move from one house to another, from one school to another university, and then to a job, and then to another state or country. We lose touch with our best friends. We get to our middle age with lots of memories and suddenly realize we have nobody to share them with unless we go for a forum online, hidden with a nickname, and we make an attempt to show our real personalities but concealing our identity for fear of spammers.
Facebook could be a solution for our personal alienation. It compensates our lack of real personal interaction with our physical neighbors, but it opens opportunities that our parents and grandparents would have never dreamt about. Last year I was able to unite matching souls from Chile, Haiti, Colombia and the United Kingdom, who would have never met otherwise. They now have a great opportunity to share their lives in a wholly unexpected way. We, as the internet generation, have a formidable tool to expand our social networks and possibilities to levels unprecedented in human history. Through our increasingly complex international relationships we can effectively break the barriers of war and ignorance much more effectively than any previous kind of diplomacy has ever been able to achieve. Please create ways to improve the use of this magnificent tool. We do not even know the superb capabilities in human interaction which we are capable to evolve. After all, human beings are still social animals, and we are just learning one of the most efficient ways of socializing ever invented.
I recently noticed, however, that Facebook is insufficient for today's needs. As adults we have been able to reach again our long dated friends. After having been connected; however, during one year to most of my friends, after having retrieved enough information about their current whereabouts, I now notice that Facebook has increasingly become an interacting gaming platfrorm. While it is fun to play around with all of those Facebook applications, they do not help in exploiting the opportunity of converting those long dated friends into new key business contacts. For that reason a migration is now taking place from Facebook to the Linkedin platform. Linkedin users submit their curriculum and current career goals and are able to expand their network through a neat presentation scheme that allows users to be introduced to people who they do not know, as long as they share a common contact. This way I have been able to recently expand my business network and hopefully new business opportunities should arise through this process of reducing the degrees of separation between people anywhere. It is still too early to conclude which one of these two platforms, at the end, will prove most useful. I am just pointing out that Facebook has done a great deal for me so far but its shortcomings are prompting me to use some Linkedin services unavailable through Facebook.
In several Spanish speaking countries; however, Linkedin is not widely know yet. It amazes me that my contacts in Canada and the United States have hundreds of further contacts, which enables most users to be within easy reach of a network of millions of people. In contrast, many of my Venezuelan contacts (including myself) have been recently invited to join and we only have a handful of other Venezuelan contacts who in turn also have just one or a few other contacts. So an average Linkedin user in Venezuela has quite small network available within the country, reaching just thousands of people... On the other hand, Xing has taken a better root. I find Xing too complicated for adding contacts. It never publishes any e-mail address and only lets you leave a comment to someone once a week. Not surprisingly, I don't have any contacts on Xing despite having opened my account a few months ago. On many Xing local groups, most users only have a handful of contacts. So with Xing you may know that people exist but there is no way to contact them unless they happen to have a web page or blog and you leave comments directly there. So what I am doing is just looking who is around Xing that I am interested in contacting and then I try to contact that person through Linkedin. No wonder Xing's growth has stagnated.
The worst of them all, of course, is Twitter. I have been unable to find out what Twitter is for. Having to deal with accounts with Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, ISP e-mail account, website e-mail accounts, credit card web pages, checking account web pages, and various other logins and passwords, having to deal with Twitter as well is a redundantly unnecessary inconvenience.
Moreover, despite these technological advances, the economy does not recover. The use of these networks is not actually improving business conditions. Perhaps these social and business web networks are just helping to moderate the downturn. It is all too common to see lots of people with impressive contacts, all of whom are finding it increasingly hard to convert a few leads into sales.
Rubén Rivero Capriles. Caracas, November 2008 - July 2009
Rivero & Cooper, Inc. Rroopstr