LinkedIn has held the title of the most popular professional social network for a long time now with little competition. Could the Facebook Application, BranchOut, be making a play for the top of the professional sector?
BranchOut is a free Facebook application that allows users to create a professional profile on Facebook. BranchOut claims to have more than 25 million registered users and over 400 million professional profiles. BranchOut uses the information from your Facebook friends that are using the application and makes introductions to other users that you may be interested in. Once you start to use the application, you can follow companies, build your network, endorse people, post notes/updates and post your own job board.
What makes the thought of the application challenging LinkedIn at all is that it sits atop Facebook – the most used social networking site in the world. As soon as you start using BranchOut, your profile is filled in with the information from your Facebook profile – current and past employment, education etc. Having Facebook’s personal data, the monopoly on where people are spending their time online and the ease of use – gives BranchOut some potential.
The question is will people use it and/or abandon beloved LinkedIn.
Facebook is a much more casual place than LinkedIn. To give a real-world example:
LinkedIn is like going to a professional event, conference, speaking engagement, sales meeting etc.
There is a certain way you dress, carry yourself and speak.
BranchOut is like going to bar with your friends and talking about what you do for work.
I have a lot of friends that I am not even sure I know what they do for work exactly.
Friends I have met growing up, in college and in life but I am not sure what their day-to-day duties at work are.
My money is still on LinkedIn but I see an interesting place for BranchOut. With social media, as our lives become more transparent, the lines will blur between personal and professional you. BranchOut may relate to younger users who are comfortable with Facebook and transparency in all aspects in their lives.
Are any of you using BranchOut? Do you like it? Do you think it will challenge LinkedIn?