Everyone seems to be talking about how first Facebook and now Twitter are being adopted by business users, as if the concept of social networking in a business environment was somehow new. Of course, the truth is that services such as LinkedIn have been providing just that for many years now.
Indeed, LinkedIn has fairly quietly grown to some 51 million members worldwide now, yet still seems to struggle to command the same type of media pulling power that either Twitter or Facebook have when it comes to generating news headlines and publicity.
I suspect there will be no such problems today as LinkedIn cleverly announces what it calls an 'integration partnership' with none other than Twitter itself, allowing members to share their status updates between both services.
Unfortunately, while LinkedIn is getting all excited about "cross integration of the two networks through the Tweets app" which "allows members of LinkedIn to automatically share their updates on the professional network with their Twitter followers" and the ability to "select Twitter status updates to share with their LinkedIn network" simply by "adding the #in hashtag to tweets on the microblogging site" I am not jumping up and down myself. Well, at least not with joy or excitement.
It has been possible to do much the same between Facebook and Twitter accounts for some time now, and to be honest it has ended up driving me away from Facebook. I pop in rarely now, only if I get an email notification that someone I'm interested in catching up with wants to connect with me there. My problem being that I already see the updates that my friends post on Twitter, so why on earth would I want to see the exact same updates on Facebook as well? Now it looks like I'll be using LinkedIn even less than I do already, as I certainly don't want to see them all there as well.
"Linking the two together via simple sharing of status updates will add the broadcast power of Twitter to the collective knowledge and business insight of LinkedIn global membership" LinkedIn says in a statement, adding that the partnership will enable members of both sites to "collaborate more easily, communicate with their network and continue to become more productive and successful".
But I still don't get it, not least as surely most people tend to draw a distinct line between Twitter and LinkedIn, between professional and social networking. After all, the whole point of LinkedIn has always been as a way of connecting to other professionals within a business context. I consider LinkedIn to be more like handing your business card around at a conference, and Twitter more like texting your mates. Things do change though, and Twitter is no exception as it has proved recently when it found its voice and roared.
Sure, Twitter has been embraced by the new media business crowd, but more as a marketing tool than anything else and certainly not, as far as I can tell, as a true business networking service. Which leaves me wondering if this will be used more as a one-way medium with LinkedIn postings hitting Twitter far more than the other way around? How that will pan out is pretty unclear, as is how postings of a purely business nature will be received by the Twitterati. So far pure marketing campaigns such as the now infamous Moonfruit one have had a mixed reception, often creating something of a Twitter backlash against the use of hashtag spam. Will LinkedIn messages be treated the same way, as corporate spam?
The only thing I am really sure about is that LinkedIn will get some column inches out of this, courtesy of the Twitter connection. And that has got to be good for business.