Part 1: Which Network Has Better Groups for Independent Contractors — LinkedIn or Facebook?
Social media groups are rooms or forums within a social network where like-minded people gather to share discussions, pictures and connect with each other. They have the option to be private or public and are used for unlimited reasons, from planning a family party to school projects to business networking. Depending who you ask, groups on social networks are either a productive way to network or a waste of time filled with garbage. That’s because everybody’s had a different experience with groups. While some experiences are beyond your control, when you know what you want to get out of a group and how to do it, your chances of a positive experience are higher.
Most of the major social networks have some sort of Group functionality, with the most popular being Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. A Contractor Quick Poll conducted in March 2015 concluded that 75% of independent contractors log into either LinkedIn or Facebook more than any other network, so let’s look closer at those two options.
You already know that LinkedIn is the professional social network. Those who use it correctly understand that they need to maintain a professional image, so content and discussions are generally business-related (some people like to bring in politics and fluffy content, but we’ll save LinkedIn etiquette for a future post). In addition, you will find senior professionals who are willing to connect with you on this network more than any other, making it the prime choice for business networking. So, naturally, one would think that LinkedIn groups are the best option for independent contractors in the technology space. In the November 2015 Contractor Quick Poll, only 33% of independent contractors said they use LinkedIn for Groups. There are many valuable groups; however, there are unfortunately more groups that have been filled with SPAM and sales people trying to take advantage of their captive audience. In fact, this combined with the fact that engagement in LinkedIn groups is at an all-time low have many people across the internet wondering if LinkedIn Groups are dying a slow death.
The Facebook Groups functionality was popular about 10 years ago, during Facebook’s earlier days, and started to trickle away for similar reasons as LinkedIn — engagement wasn’t there. Recently, Facebook Groups have been making a “comeback” and communities are embracing the functionality all over again. Because of its mainstream popularity, professional networkers may not believe there is as much success. Facebook is used less by senior professionals than LinkedIn and those who do use it tend be more hesitant about connecting with anybody who is not a close friend or family. Therefore, finding a valuable networking group may not be as easy to do.
So which social network should you use for business networking? LinkedIn or Facebook? In typical cliché fashion of most comparison articles you read online, we’re going to recommend the grey area in the middle. Every situation is unique, with factors such as who you want to connect with and the types of topics you’d like to discuss. As such, review the pros and cons above, as well as review the groups on both networks before deciding. If anything, we strongly discourage joining multiple groups and hoping for the best — this will either result in lot of lost productivity or you will be so overwhelmed that you will ignore it all and be no further ahead.
The biggest question you may be asking yourself right now is “Why would I want to join a group at all?” We’ll answer that and provide some tips on how to use social media groups as a technology contractor in the second half of this series.