Facebook Is The Past, MySpace Is The Present And LinkedIn Is The Future – A Different Perspective On Online Social Networks

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My guess is you read that Blog posting headline and assumed it to mean that Facebook is over for the masses, MySpace is back en vogue and the future of online social networks belongs to LinkedIn.

Not at all.

In my journeys (and this includes feedback I get on this Six Pixels of Separation Blog and Podcast or in speaking or with clients), I’m frequently asked if I think Facebook can continue to grow or will some other kind of online social network come around that will make us all jump ship? (it’s a whole other Blog posting for another day).

It got me thinking about why we use these online social networks, what they mean and how they fit in to our everyday lives… and this light went off:

Facebook is wildly popular right now and – although I don’t really use it for this particular use – most people do use it to stay connected with old friends and family members, or to meet up with people they haven’t seen in a long while (how many people you knew in high school try to connect with you via Facebook on a daily basis?).

My guess is that most people floating around MySpace use it to stay current. They hop around people’s MySpace profiles to be up-to-date on who’s doing what in art, music, culture, literature, parties, meet-ups, etc… If you’re hip, with it and "now"… you hang out and play on MySpace.

LinkedIn is all about building your professional stature. It’s all about making the right connections, so that your future can be brighter than your past. LinkedIn is all about establishing initial contact, building that trust over time and being able to connect to those business people more effectively in the future.

It’s the "perfect storm" for online social networking, isn’t it? You have a place to stay connected (and find) family and friends, a place to hang out that keeps you "in the loop" and a place to connect with those who can help propel your career forward.

Each one has its own merit and value. While an individual’s interest and attention may shift from one to another, Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn each provide their own, special network depending on if you’re focused on the past, present or future.

(sidebar: I’m sure you read last week that LinkedIn got an investment of over fifty million dollars, which gives it a valuation of one billion dollars? read more about that here: MarketWatch – LinkedIn Raises $53 Million In VC Funding).


  1. Another analogy – Facebook is the country club. MySpace is a large mall. LinkedIn? The executive suite in the mall offices.
    I saw another social media guru not too long ago crapping on MySpace and had to laugh. Until one of our sites gathers 300,000 new users a day, we can’t really say anything. MySpace is the place for boatloads of people.

  2. The success of these networks might be instrumental to their downfalls.
    Firstly as these networks hit critical mass people will want to break off into smaller niches, I foresee a musicians network, a lawyers network with tools and apps specifically for that group–its hard to be everything for everyone..
    Plus now that you are digitally connected it will be easier to move your network and everyone elsewhere—e.g. think about when the address book went digital and it became much more exportable. It went form outlook to a hotmail or yahoo to now gmail and soon something else — barriers to movement are dramatically reduced.
    So get ready for the explosion of social networks.

  3. I thought the visa /facebook small business network was pretty major news in the rush to monetize social networks something I’m sure linked in will be kicking themselves for not initiating to date

  4. I think you misinterpret Facebook mission. In fact, it is not only about connecting with old friends, it is more a tool to set meeting, event and share content you like with your network. Moreover, Facebook is steppping slowly on myspace territory with Fan Pages.
    Although, I agree that LinkedIn is the future. With functionnality like answers, company profile and job search, it is really the killer in HR and business networking.

  5. @CSPenn is spot on: “Another analogy – Facebook is the country club. MySpace is a large mall. LinkedIn? The executive suite in the mall offices.”

  6. LinkedIn is viewed as a way to connect with people to build your future. It’s also a tool many people still don’t understand how it should work – they see the potential it has but some of the kinks need to be worked out.
    As for Myspace and Facebook, I’m noticing more and more users favoring one or the other.

  7. I hate to disagree Parth, but I’m not sure Facebook and others will lose to smaller niche networks. With things like open social on the horizon, I think the real threat to facebook is the browser. We’ve seen it with RSS, why wouldn’t it be the same here.
    Between open social and the evolution of our browsers, one profile will allow us to have as many mass or niche networks as we would like. Whether or not facebook makes it all the way to that point, we will have to wait and see, but even the smaller, more niche social networks will eventually die because they will not be able to keep up with the open social community of people creating and building new features and functionalities.

  8. This is a particularly narrow view of FB and a generous view of MyS. They are basically the same thing for different crowds. Sure, there are people who use both, but there is nothing in the design or use of MyS that makes it a “now” network.
    If anything, it’s look is cheap and out-of-date, and it’s content is youtube runoff and digg fodder.

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