Facebook vs. LinkedIn: Which is better for business?

We test two top social networking sites with six business problems

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5. Get feedback on a nasty IT problem from peers outside your company

You're pretty good at what you do, but even pretty good sometimes doesn't cut it. You've got a new employee — unfortunately, somebody high up in the food chain — whose snazzy new Vista notebook will not play with the company's Wi-Fi network, no matter how much you tweak, re-install and curse. Your temptation is to simply swap out notebooks, but that would be admitting defeat, and the new hire is smart enough to realize it. So it's time to get some answers from outside the company — without giving away any company secrets, of course.


Facebook was created for students looking to do things such as vote on who's hot and who's not, so it's not exactly designed for tracking down IT woes. Your best bet here is with the shotgun approach: Send out several loads of buckshot and hope something hits the target.

The AITP Group might have answers for you.

That primarily means installing the My Questions application and blasting your question out to your list of friends in the hope that someone might have a solution. You can also leave private Facebook messages for your contacts who you think might help as well.

Don't be surprised if you don't get an answer. Facebook doesn't appear to have made major inroads with the IT crowd. However, there's a Facebook group you can join that might help. The Association of Information Technology Professionals has several hundred members who might have answers for you. — Preston Gralla


The usefulness of LinkedIn for this task depends on how willing you are to let other people know that you haven't been able to answer the question. You can certainly try to get answers the hard way, which would be to use the various search functions to find people you think might be able to answer it, get an introduction if necessary and ask for help. But is there an easier way?

The Answers area lets you post a question.

Yes, LinkedIn has an Answers area where you can post a question to your network and even categorize it by subject area, such as Technology or Law and Legal. Anyone can answer, and the answers are posted like comments to a blog, so everyone can see everyone else's answers and comment or expand on them. You can find questions on the site about everything from career advice to opinions about software to what people thought about the Super Bowl. (That last is categorized Staffing and Recruiting — go figure.) Posting a question would be an effective way to solicit answers to this kind of technical problem.

There is a danger in this approach, though. If you make the question visible to everyone in your network, there's no way to ensure your supervisors won't see it. If they're working at your company, there's a good chance they're already in your extended network, even if you're not aware of it. And LinkedIn operates with real names, so they'll know the question is coming from you.

On the other hand, you can limit the question's visibility to only those connections you specify. The downside here is that you're getting answers from a lot fewer people. But by posting the question on LinkedIn, you're still reaping the brainstorming benefits of your respondents' ability to comment on others' answers. — Jake Widman

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