Thursday, December 11, 2008

Personal versus professional social networks

It is amazing the number of social computing 'experts' there are out there. Takes of back to the days of search engine optimisation experts who just entered some meta tags on your pages and submitted the site to numerous search engines.

I don't claim to be am expert in this space but I don't think it takes much to learn what these tools do and what products are available.

So anyway. There have been a number of requests made in our organisation for up to have a presence on Facebook, a Ning group etc..

Reasons range from 'our competitors are doing it' to 'gen Y demands it' all of which are based on opinion not demand or benefit.

In some of the discussions I have had with people I have noticed a blurring of the lines between personal and professional social networking. There seems a belief that you can use any social networking solution to cater for professional networking groups.

[getting up on soap box] I am of a mind that there does need to be a seperation of powers when it comes to personal and professional life. Yes there will be a few bridging relationships where you work with a friend or a collegue becomes a friend.

Maybe other people are more open to sharing and the lines between professional and personal are blurred.

I start having issues when you want to put a professional group on a personal networking site. Some have heard of the work the Deloitte have done in utilising Facebook as a professional networking tool. This has been done with the main proviso that the profile that staff use is a professional one. This does not preclude them from having a personal one but the professional one is the one that gets connected to the group.

When someone comes to me and says 'we need to be on facebook' I congratulate them for making such a decision and then try and work out exactly it is they are trying to achieve. Assumptions get made. People have only heard of Facebook so they believe that is what must be used.

Personally, I am a big fan of LinkedIn for professional networking. Now that they have provided more social computing tools (group discussions etc..) it is evolving into the professional networking tool of choice. I also maintain a profile on Plaxo (glorified address book) to pick up other people in my network who are not on LinkedIn. I also have one on Xing but nothing seems to be happening there. I belong to several Google Groups (preferred) and Yahoo Groups. I share my travel on dopplr, photos on flickr, slides on slideshare. I have my personal network on Facebook. Oh... and I blog here (when I can), tweet here and also on Yammer.




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Matt Moore said...

Cory - You're not actually asking them for a business purpose are you? Heresy!

I don't like Facebook because it's rubbish for privacy.

LinkedIn I like more - largely because of the things that other people have stated make it boring. I think integration of other social media things are long overdue.

The unnerving thing about LinkedIn is the visibility it gives of an organisation. For example, I can see quite a lot about your employer. If I were a recruiter or a competitive intelligence analyst, I'd be rubbing my hands with glee.

Are managers aware of this visibility? Is it wholly desirable? And do we have a choice anyway?

Andrew Mitchell said...

I have to say I'm not up there with you on your soapbox this time. In my experience there's an increasing trend towards blurring the dividing line between work and personal live. Some have argued against it and some people live it. Individuals need to do what's comfortable for them. Even if that means having separate facebook, twitter, blog, etc identities.

Mind you, I'm not arguing that every company or person has to be on Facebook, or Twitter, or whatever. I agree that you need to look at corporate (or personal/professional) objectives.