Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, lately Google Plus have rapidly evolved over the past few years. Online interaction took center stage and having a profile is only a commodity. LinkedIn developed into a different direction. groups degraded to cheap classified add boards, question and answers were basically replaced by the likes of Quora and Focus and the actual "conversation" circles all around spam.
That doesn't mean LinkedIn is dying or going away – it only means LinkedIn is not really a social network anymore. LinkedIn was always known as a place to brush up your presence when you look for a new job and a place to scan profiles if you are hiring. For the older sales generation it is a place to lookup some people on a one by one process.
In a recent discussion about social presence development Mari-Lyn Harris made an interesting observation: "I also have found that most LinkedIn people don't want to engage with others." In the hey days I myself was part of up to 40 LinkedIn Groups. But after the redesign last year the groups turned rapidly into spam holes and group managers had an impossible task to keep it clean – and eventually resigned. Andrew Maher shared his experience this way: "I have been watching and trying to participate in different LN groups and convos and as you say Mari-Lyn they are not really interested. I have also gotten comments back like "this is not Facebook".
We moved our most active groups from LinkedIn to Facebook simply because it was easier to manage and moderate, provides better tools like documents inside the group and there is no "backdoor" to just blast all kinds of information into a group like the share feature in LinkedIn.
Aside from the technology it looks like the social web is evolving into two different directions: The one that is all about engagement, conversations and collaboration – and the other that hides behind the idea that LinkedIn is for business and hence not for engagement because that is what many business people are still afraid of: engagement.
Business or not – it appears to me that Facebook, Twitter and Google+ is all about engagement, conversations, and collaboration. Others like LinkedIn, Plaxo or MySpace are basically about presenting yourself with a profile either for getting a job or sharing your music or fashion interest – but that's it.
Now obviously there are many more aspects and facets to the evolution of social networks and I'd be very interested to hear other opinion.