Will LinkedIn outlive Facebook?
Monday, April 23, 2012
Looks like it's downfall-prediction time in the popularity lifecycle for Facebook.
Geoffrey James of Inc. Magazine published an editorial which argues that Facebook, unlike LinkedIn, is vulnerable to being ditched for "something 'cooler'":
LinkedIn is all about business and people's resumes. Because its scope is limited to fundamentally dull information, LinkedIn is simply not vulnerable to something "cooler."
Sure, somebody could launch a site similar to LinkedIn. (And I'm sure plenty of people have.) But why would the customer base bother to change? Nobody on LinkedIn cares about being cool. LinkedIn's beauty is that it's dull but functional–like email and the telephone.
Fair point. Being popular because you're cool does make you vulnerable to the next cool thing. But he doesn't make good arguments — or any at all, really — for his case that people have been using Facebook because it's cool.
Specifically, this argument falls flat for me:
Consumer-oriented social networking sites are like television networks: People will switch when there's something better on another channel.
Actually, consumer-oriented social networking sites are nothing like television networks. Exclusive content provides customers a reason to use more than one network. And, most importantly, there's no cost to switch to something better on another TV channel — in fact, it's common to switch back and forth.
Facebook, on the other hand, with years of posts, photos, and other social interactions (yes, many of them useless), as well as a large current audience, has a huge cost for a user that wants to "switch".
James does address that:
Frankly, I think it's just one online conversion program away from losing its customer base and becoming the next MySpace.
An "online conversion program" might provide a way to minimize the data loss, but Facebook has a much larger asset: market momentum.
ComScore analysis shows that 69% of North American internet users have Facebook accounts, according to a CNET article. People use Facebook because other people use Facebook — their friends, specifically. That's been one of the primary drivers of its virality, and it is now the reason for its ubiquity. In that sense, Facebook is more like email or the telephone than LinkedIn.
No online conversion program is going to move their friends over to the "next" Facebook.