The important difference between LinkedIn and Facebook

When speaking about social media channels, people normally lump them all together. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and others are presented as if they are all more or less interchangeable. We all know that they are not all the same, but we may not be aware what makes LinkedIn (and to a lesser extent Twitter) quite different from the others. Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and many other, less popular, social media sites are used by individuals while behaving as individuals. Someone goes to the beach and tells her or his friends about it. And you have your personal, non-work hat on when you are reading the latest on Facebook. Sure businesses have pages on Facebook, but they are targeted to individuals reading posts in personal mode.

LinkedIn, by contrast, is used by people who have their work hats on. They are in business mode, they expect to find business information posted on LinkedIn, and the things they share themselves are of a professional nature.

In this sense, LinkedIn is a Business-to-Business channel, while Facebook and the others are either Consumer-to-Consumer or Business-to-Consumer in nature.

As a nonprofit organization, this has major implications on how you use social media. If you are promoting a fundraising event or searching for small donations, then Facebook is a fine place to be. But on the other hand, if you are looking to bolster your reputation in your field, hoping to partner with other nonprofits, or reaching out to foundations and government offices, then LinkedIn makes much more sense.

Keep in mind that on LinkedIn, your goal is different, the target audience Is different, and so the message must be different, too.

LinkedIn is where professional reputations are built. It is where one interacts with others in your field. It’s not where you talk about vacations, children and pets.

Note that I place Twitter in both the B2B and B2C worlds. Certainly many people use it for personal communication, but Twitter is also used for business communication. In this later regard, it can be grouped together with LinkedIn.

By all means, use Facebook to promote your next crowd-funding initiative. But don’t forget about LinkedIn and the potential it has to help you interact with your peers on a professional level.

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For more information about enhancing your reputation with social media, download this free eBook from Sustainable Digital Communication: Enhancing the Reputation of your Nonprofit with Social Media: How to Make both You and Your Organization an Authority in Your Field.

Bob Lawson is founder of Sustainable Digital Communication, a consultancy offering communication and technology services to nonprofit organizations and international NGOs.

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