LinkedIn, the business-networking site that many (including me) see as an also-ran in the social-networking game, has launched some new features, including a redesigned homepage and a rollout of its previously announced developer platform, which it hopes will make its network as extensible as Facebook has with the F8 platform. Eric Eldon says the changes put LinkedIn ahead, but I must admit that I’m skeptical.
I know that many of my friends who are either looking for work or have been in the past say they get a lot out of LinkedIn, and I’m not saying it doesn’t have value — I think it does, although like my friend Mark Evans I rarely use it. It’s also good to see the network moving forward, even if most of what it is offering seems a little old (I mean, profile pictures? Come on). But the addition of things like a news aggregator for members and on-site messaging could make it more sticky.
That said, I still think that Facebook has a better value proposition for more people, and a better platform. I think the range of things you can do with and on the site is broader, and I think a site that is strictly business-oriented ignores the fact that people have a range of interests and relationships with their friends that in many cases goes beyond just the corporate (and I think Anne Zelenka of GigaOm agrees).
The alternative argument, of course, is that Facebook is just for twentysomethings who want to poke each other and put up goofy pictures. I think Facebook is moving away from that, and has been for some time. It will be interesting to see whether LinkedIn tries to become even more social, or whether it decides to stick to being primarily about business relationships.