Is Facebook’s BranchOut Really Going to Outshine LinkedIn?

May 1, 2012   //   by AmandaD   //   SEO Blog, Social Media  //  16 Comments

Facebook truly seems to be the network that likes to compete. First the takeover of MySpace, then the Twitter-like change to the homepage, then the purchase of Instagram to compete with Pinterest, and now BranchOut—LinkedIn’s new nemesis. This professional networking platform was actually launched in July, 2010 and has quietly been gaining speed ever since. Today, BranchOut has 25 million users with a rate of 3 new users per second. Although this number sounds great, I could help but think to myself: But LinkedIn still has 131,200,000 users, so what’s all the buzz about?

As it turns out, the answer is quite clear: It took LinkedIn 65 months to reach the level that BranchOut has now achieved in a mere 16 months.

How BranchOut Works and How to Get Started

Although people were reluctant to connect professional matters with the very personal matters of Facebook, BranchOut only shows education and work history. You can also connect with someone on BranchOut without becoming Facebook friends, which adds an extra level of privacy for the skeptic. You can get started with BranchOut by either accepting an invitation from another BranchOut user, or typing BranchOut.com into the Facebook search box. Once the app is installed, it will prompt you to grow your BranchOut network. Below is an example of when I was asked to include my friends in my new BranchOut network:

Once you click “include them,” your friends will get a request asking if they would like to join your community. Getting started is as easy as that. You are then brought to your profile page where you can import a resume, look through all of your connections and search for new connections, and check out your endorsements. Below is a screenshot of my profile page:

My profile is fairly empty right now, but the idea is there. You can see that I still need to improve my resume and flesh out my work history. However, Facebook took my work history information from my profile and went ahead and added it to my BranchOut profile. This makes creating a profile very easy and quick for those who have a fairly detailed Facebook account.

You will also notice that there is a tab at the top of the screen titled “jobs.” This is where I can go and type in a job that I’m looking to find. Below is an example of a search I did for the job “social media manager” that turned up three results:

If you were to continue scrolling down the page, you would see that you could filter results based on your experience, a specific industry, and whether or not you’re looking for full time, part, time, internship, etc. Although I am a new user, I can already tell that this application is intuitive and easy to use (which is something I can’t say about all the features of Facebook).

The Benefits for BranchOut vs. LinkedIn

Having a presence on both social networks will help you expand our circles to the fullest. Certain employers may use one over the other, so a candidate will want to be prepared on both platforms in order to find the maximum number of relevant job listings. As long as you can stay active and can maintain both profiles, employers will be happy to see that you are social media fluent.

Saying that BranchOut is better than LinkedIn would be incorrect, but there are a few things that make BranchOut different and a few extra benefits that the application can offer:

  • Facebook is larger. Most people sign up for a LinkedIn account and have to try and sync it up with an email address to find connections. With Facebook, you can find a huge pool of connections with the click of one button.
  • The connections are broader. The connections you will make on BranchOut are much broader than those you would make on LinkedIn. Many of your friends may not be on LinkedIn, but chances are they are on Facebook. This helps make your connections more personal.
  • It’s easy to get started for those intimidated by LinkedIn. Young graduates are more likely to get started with BranchOut over LinkedIn because they already have a Facebook account. For this reason, there is a good chance BranchOut will be the next big thing.

In terms of features, both sites are very similar—search functionality for jobs, filters, finding connections, promoting content, etc.—so I believe it is really a matter of preference. If you have a large following on Facebook, BranchOut is worth setting up. If Facebook was never really your network of choice, sticking with LinkedIn only is still a great way to grow your personal brand. As long as you can make at least one work, you’ll be in a good position when it comes time to find a job.

Are you active on BranchOut? What have been your experiences? Let us know in the comments!

Photo Credit: recruiter.com

Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer on topics ranging from social media to employment background checks. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including recruitment to small businesses and entrepreneurs for a lead generation website, Resource Nation. 

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Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for Highervisibility, a nationally recognized SEO firm that offers online marketing services to a wide range of companies across the country.

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  • Thanks Amanda for your comprehensive review. I do have a large following on Facebook (RHB= real human beings…folks around the world who are trying to do the right thing.)

    I was reluctant to accept Branch-out invites because a) they seems to be automated b) I was protective of the privacy of my FB friends c) whenever I received a Branchout request on my wall and responded to the sender, I never received a response.

    My desire on Linked In is to build a community around a “good guy” philosophy, not merely collecting names. Eg most of the BranchOut invites I get are from recruiters.

    Thanks for your article, I’ll check it out again.

    • AmandaD
      Twitter:
      says:

      I was very reluctant as well, but being a recent graduate my FB friends (real friends!) were just out of control with Branch Out requests and I couldn’t ignore it any longer. Once I did some research I really did discover that it’s a great new tool. I completely agree that connecting with a bunch of recruiters is missing the point, but I actually think BranchOut is going to be more about close friends and “real” connections as opposed to random connections. Only time will tell, but I’d love to hear how things go for you! Check back!

  • Ray says:

    Honestly I hadn’t heard of Branchout until this post. I hear about Linkedin farily often and I assumed it was the place to go for job seekers and a online resume type of thing. Doesn’t surprise me that Facebook is partnering with or buying sites to boost popularity and usage.

  • Marbella says:

    Hi AmandaD,
    I did not know BranchOut, but I will definitely open an account, Facebook has the potential to create something great with BranchOut and I do not want to miss the train.

  • AmandaD
    Twitter:
    says:

    It wasn’t too long ago that I learned about BranchOut myself. Although there are a lot of users, the number is nothing next to the number of users on Facebook (obviously). Now is as good a time as any to get started! I think you’ll find that it’s not nearly as successful as LinkedIn, but it could be someday. Besides, this might mean that you have a smaller group to work with; thus helping you find a job or a candidate. Thanks for reading!

  • Ali Hillman says:

    Hi Amanda,

    My name is Ali and I am BranchOut’s Community Manager. Thanks for using BranchOut and sharing your insight! If you have any question, I am happy to be a resource :)

    Cheers,

    Ali

  • Karin Goodman says:

    I just learned about BranchOut recently. Thanks for sharing how it works! I am now sure to create a BranchOut account.

  • dagnyjbarber says:

    Branchout is new thing for me. And A very big thanks for explaining this very clearly.

  • AmandaD
    Twitter:
    says:

    Definitely! It was new for me as well, but I really do think it’s going to take off in the next few years. As with everything social, it’s best to get started as early as possible. Thanks for reading.

  • biobank says:

    I fully agree that connecting with a bunch of recruiters is missing the point, but I in fact think BranchOut is going to be more about close colleagues and “real” connections as opposed to random connections.Although there are a lot of users, the number is nothing next to the number of users on Facebook (obviously). i guess you’ll find that it’s not nearly as successful as LinkedIn, but it could be someday.

    • I’ve always thought of Twitter as the network with random connections and LinkedIn as the network with “real” connections. Do you think LinkedIn is turning into a competition about how many followers you have and how many connections you can make (whether they are quality or not)? I suppose I am beginning to see this more the more I join groups who will “accept all invites.” It’s interesting to think about whether or not BranchOut will change this dynamic. Thanks for your comment!

  • Erik
    Twitter:
    says:

    Great article Amanda. The one thing that you may not have covered here is the age demographics. It seems Facebook is ripe with the 20 somethings but as user age goes north, usage seems to go south. I think LinkedIn stats show the opposite to a certain degree.

    Also, for me LinkedIn has always offered a much more professional environment, which could be why we focused on LinkedIn when we decided to build a business centric social communications application and not Facebook / Branchout.

    Best,
    Erik

    • I’m really glad you bring up age. I think you are 100% right (and I know there are statistics somewhere out there to prove it), and that will likely have an effect on the use of BranchOut. I’m wondering, though, if BranchOut will simply just grow up with those using it today. In other words, in 30 years when all the “young” people are “old,” maybe BranchOut could really have something? I suppose only time will tell!

  • biobank says:

    Very good knowledge about the working of branch out. Yes,it is absolutely right that the Facebook’s branchout is going to outshine the LinkedIn.

  • Nick Davison says:

    I’m not so sure branch out is ever going to truly compete with linked in. they are late to the party and Linked in are already established leaders in social business networking. I would be surprised if they continue to grow at that rate, although to be honest I will still create a profile for the additional coverage.