Like any other member of the early-adopter subset of users out there (yes, I count myself as one), I try to get my name onto as many social networks I can just to get to know the latest up-and-coming technologies. I sign up, test ‘em, then continue on or throw them out after a few weeks. Each network – and there are dozens – gets a fair shot at earning my approval.
I’m presently putting a new social network, Quora, through its paces. So far, so good. It’s all part of my interest in seeing what works for people and businesses/clients -and what doesn’t.
I recently reviewed a social network called Path that bills itself as an “anti-social network” of sorts wherein it limits a user to 50 friends. I like it and continue to use it, and recommend you do, too. And after a few weeks of use, I’ve come to realize that digital services that require a user to selectively limit their friend list to a small number of connections must be getting the idea from other networks, where such friend-limiting activity happens naturally.
At Feedback, we call this phenomenon “Selective Connection.” Take LinkedIn, for example.
Where Facebook has now become the primary network that enables friends to find each other after losing touch with one another over time, LinkedIn has become a quiet network for business professionals.
Most users typically keep their personal profiles on other social networks separated from their LinkedIn profiles for good reason: it’s a professional network for the purpose of being professional. Nowhere on LinkedIn do you ever anticipate that photo of you doing a kegstand to appear. Instead, it’s the place where you can share your talent and skills, learn more about others, and make recommendations and engage in meaningful professional discussion.
The limitations that a user has come to expect on LinkedIn were welcomed in business world much faster than Facebook’s more casual usage and customs. Sure, LinkedIn has integration with Twitter accounts to allow for cross-posting of content that might have something to do with your job. But overall, LinkedIn is kept pretty civil.
So you might start to wonder, why hasn’t Facebook come in and taken command of the online business networking scene? Can’t Facebook flip a switch and do that?
Of course not. Well, not presently, anyway.
A recent conversation that I had on Twitter concluded with the revelation that the social graph online has been replicated from what has long existed outside of the Internet: Some people keep work at work, while some might want to keep home at home.
How Facebook operates right now on a fundamental level is drawn straight from the actions of promoting someone that you just met to a level of friendship. As Facebook continues to grow, the assumed action and reaction of sending and accepting a friend request is slowly solidified as the proper etiquette.
A separate network, LinkedIn, exists for those who feel that they don’t want to share what might appear on their Facebook profile with those at their workplace or potential employer. For those who don’t want to share every particular photo with all of their Facebook or Twitter followers, there is a network like Path.
And there will be more to come, as closed-circle networks and selective connection becomes one of the latest darlings of the new media industry. While it seems like a niche market, closed-circle social networks continue to grow and become successful. LinkedIn might be a closed or specialized network with the most amount of visibility, but smaller online venues could influence the direction that networks are taking in 2011 and beyond.