After reading CIO Publisher Emeritus Gary Beach’s recent
column proclaiming that CIOs and older members of the business
community should join him on LinkedIn and
avoid Facebook, I understood his reasoning
very well. Not too long ago, I expressed similar dismay over how poorly the majority of
Facebook users utilized the fastest growing social network on
the Web. To me, it seemed little more than a showcase for
college kids wanting to demonstrate their prowess for alcohol consumption and flaunt who
they may have landed in the bedroom. Many of the users who
“friended” someone else would stalk their profiles
with sick fascination. When I considered Facebook’s
potential and tremendously powerful infrastructure, it seemed
like such a waste.
So I fooled around with some of the other social networks
for awhile. First, I dabbled in MySpace, which turned out to
have a ton of users (even older ones) but lousy functionality.
You couldn’t really design your home page and profile
with the same ease as Facebook. It just didn’t look as
After discarding my MySpace account, I joined LinkedIn,
whose 16 million professional users make it a very powerful
tool as well. As Gary points out, it helps the user “connect with
business colleagues and business friends.”
Yes, that’s true, but I also learned that’s
about the extent of it.
LinkedIn is essentially an online resume, with very few
helpful third-party applications to enrich the experience
(though hopefully that will change slightly since they adopted the
OpenSocial standard). When it comes to applications
running on top of social networking home pages (also known
as widgets), Facebook holds an undeniable edge and has been
the hotbed of
social networking innovation. Back in late May, it
opened up its platform to third-party developers and has
since added some 7,000 applications. Not all of the apps
have been relevant to a business user (the vampires app
comes to mind), but others have been extremely helpful and
have shown to have great potential benefits for a business
I also examined some of the numbers provided by
Facebook in their press section and it debunked some of my
assumptions. Of the sites 55 million active users, more than
half are from outside college and they claim fastest
demographic as those being 25 and older.
As I result, I stopped fighting and joined, but did so only
after making a promise to myself: I’d keep it classy.
While I’ve revealed some personal information about
myself, it’s nothing intimately personal. If you visit my
Facebook page, you’ll see everyone from my boss’s
boss, CIO Editor in Chief Abbie Lundberg, to
my best friend from college (who happens to work for a large
technology vendor). You’ll see sources I’ve used
for my “consumer IT”
stories as well as friends of mine in the media and PR
I’m not saying ditch LinkedIn. In fact, I have a
LinkedIn widget on my Facebook page that will take you to my
resume. That’s what LinkedIn does best.
Instead, it behooves you to be members of both Facebook and
LinkedIn. It just increases your opportunity to make meaningful
connections in both your professional and personal lives, and
the gray area between the two where we’re going to be
spending a lot of our time in the future.
If you’re a CIO or IT manager, it’s worth your
time because, if nothing else, your future workforce views
Facebook as a staple in their daily lives. The other bonus: the
more of you who join, the concerns Gary and I have about the
delinquent uses of the social networking platform (drunk photos
and the like) will begin to work themselves out because these
people want to have jobs! If they know you’re watching,
they might clean up their profiles to a more tasteful blend
between the professional and personal.
That, at least, is my hope.
C.G. Lynch is a Staff Writer for CIO.com and CIO magazine.
He covers Consumer IT and collaborative technologies.