Is LinkedIn Really a Social Network?
If you’re on LinkedIn, you more than likely have your work history on it. You probably get connection requests from it all the time. Heck, you may even send your Twitter feed to it. But does all this type of activity justify calling LinkedIn a social network?
First, we have to understand what a social network really is. The Wikipedia definition is as follows:
A social network is a social structure made up of a set of actors (such as individuals or organizations) and the dyadic ties between these actors (such as relationships, connections, or interactions). A social network perspective is employed to model the structure of a social group, how this structure influences other variables, or how structures change over time. The study of these structures uses methods in social network analysis to identify influential nodes, local and global structures, and network dynamics.
But even with the definition fitting the general LinkedIn makeup, would you really put it in the social ranks of Facebook and Twitter? Most people automatically do when explaining what social networks they’re on, but if we take a look at their actual use of the site, they hardly use it in a truly social way.
LinkedIn has tried to bring more social aspects into the site that claims to have more than
150 million users. In 2009, they introduced the ability to bring your Twitter feed into the LinkedIn update stream. Now, a lot of people were happy about this enhancement, but if you look at your own stream today, how many people are interacting with those “tweets” on LinkedIn? I took a quick sample of the last 100 updates in my stream that were directly posted from Twitter and not a single post had any interaction on LinkedIn.
Why do you think this is? Is it because people just don’t interact with content on LinkedIn like they do on Twitter and Facebook? Are they looking for more tailored content that’s better suited for the LinkedIn audience? Or do people still think of LinkedIn as a site where you put your resume? I personally think it’s a bit of all three. LinkedIn is trying to integrate social enhancements to the platform, but at the end of the day, it’s the users that’ll make LinkedIn truly social.
So how can you leverage LinkedIn in a more social way? We’re going to start with three sections of LinkedIn that you can explore to make it a bigger factor in your social makeup.
- Groups – I have to give credit where credit is due and that would be Groups on LinkedIn. There are a ton of business related topics on the platform and it’s where most interaction takes place. When you enter your LinkedIn account, click on “Groups” in the top navigation bar. Here you can search for existing Groups or even start your own.
- Answers – Another active area, Answers is a section where you build interaction by either asking or answering a multitude of business-related questions. To visit the “Answers” section, go to your top navigation bar, click on “More.”
- Your Updates – To make it social, you have to be social. Go to your Update feed and interact with people. Give it a shot and see what happens. Many people have their LinkedIn notifications turned on and will get pinged if you leave a comment on one of their updates. It might be fun to see if you start to build deeper interactions on the “business” social network.
These are just three easy sections to dig deeper on what I still consider a very important network. If you’re looking for additional ideas, check out this great article titled 13 Things You Never Knew You Could Do On LinkedIn.
So is LinkedIn really a social network? Maybe not in the form of say Facebook or Twitter, but I’m willing to hang in there to see if it becomes one in the near future.
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