There is an interesting story over on InfoWorld about the valuation of LinkedIn. Funny how even tech publications can get confused and miss the point. It says that MySpace and FaceBook are "more conventional social media sites". Funny that, since FaceBook has been around for as long as LinkedIn, but MySpace hasn't been. All three were formed at about the same time. You'd think "traditional" would carry the flavor of tradition with it, but none of these companies is five years old yet. Traditional social networking would be BBS's.

More importantly, they miss the reason that LinkedIn will likely end up worth much much more than either of the other two - focus. Just as bulk mailings receive a much smaller response rate than targeted advertising, so is it true of websites. A site with a focus on the business person is granular enough for today (though not likely for the long term), while one that puts out a siren call to everyone will struggle to get people to respond. In short, I'd rather have access to LinkedIn's membership - which I joined voluntarily years ago - than MySpace - which I still don't have an account on - or FaceBook - which I joined this year because the boss said it was a good idea.

Simply put, the people on LinkedIn are business people trying to network. The other two mediums lack that focus completely. That makes the value of LinkedIn membership much higher to the average information worker.

My thought is that time will bear out LinkedIn's value to be significantly more than the other two sites this article compares to, simply because it is far easier to leverage a focused group. And over time I expect that even more fine-grained sites will become successful so that like-minded individuals can communicate effectively without being subjected to things like Gregor the 12 year old WoW player's rantings.

Of course, I'm an "old guy" in Internet terms - I still use email and get offended when my reviews website is called a blog - so what do I know? I know that DevCentral's strength is focus - that Gregor isn't interested in it, meaning we can all communicate about stuff that matters to us without interruption. So I guess I know something.

Don.