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Cautiously Optimistic

Social media for better communication and a better life

Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Kessler

Facebook’s BranchOut App Turns Up the Heat on LinkedIn

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BranchOutMuch like McDonald’s old McDLT sandwich packaging tried to “keep the hot side hot and the cool side cool” by separating the fresh-off-the grill hamburger patty from the fresh-from-the fridge tomato and lettuce, social media users frequently try to keep their public identity and activities public and their private identity and activities private by using multiple social media platforms.

This desire to curate or control how our different publics see us is one of the reasons that career-oriented social media sites such as LinkedIn have flourished even as Facebook pursues its ambition to be the world’s one-stop social media destination.

Facebook’s response to upstart competitors usually takes one of two forms: it buys the company or it creates very similar functionality and then kills the competitor because of its huge existing user base that other sites or services cannot overcome.

We saw Facebook in buyout mode recently when it announced it was purchasing the photo retouching and sharing company Instagram. Now we may be seeing Facebook in “kill the competitor” mode with its launch of BranchOut, the professional networking app that draws data from existing Facebook profiles to connect people in similar industries.

This presents a danger for LinkedIn. Even though it had the “first-mover advantage” in growing the professional social media niche, the Facebook juggernaut has the ability to dwarf LinkedIn’s network, given time. This Mashable article by Sarah Kessler states that while BranchOut currently has only 25 million registered users, as compared to LinkedIn’s 150 million users, BranchOut has access to the full 845 million Facebook accounts around the world.

I would imagine that LinkedIn’s leadership team is working to avoid the fate of the McDLT, which was eventually discontinued along with its innovative packaging. Only time will tell if Facebook’s “all things to all people” recipe for success will win in the end.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

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Written by Charles Primm

April 20, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Demanding Employee Social Media Logins May Create Big PR Problems

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Companies who force their current and potential employees to divulge their private social media logins and passwords may be setting themselves up for big public relations problems.

Several news stories in recent days and weeks have explored the increasing numbers of employees and job seekers reporting that their bosses are demanding access to their Facebook user names and passwords, so they can check up on what they are doing online.

Now HiringA story by MSNBC’s Bob Sullivan describes how applicants for jobs as corrections officers in Maryland were forced to log in to their Facebook accounts during the job interview, so that the employer could search the applicant’s photos for signs of gang affiliation.

The same story also described how the North Carolina state government asked applicants for clerical jobs to provide their Facebook usernames and passwords.

Now there seems to be some pushback against these kinds of demands. Mashable’s Sarah Kessler reports that Facebook may go so far as to initiate legal action against employers who demand their employees give up their login information to the social media site.

Meanwhile, politicians are getting involved as well. Politico’s Tony Romm reports that Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut is writing legislation to prohibit the practice of demanding access to the social media sites of their current or potential employees.

I think employers certainly have a right to expect professional behavior from their workers. It’s also a prudent move for companies to check out a job seeker’s public Facebook page or Twitter feed. But the kind of heavy-handed intrusiveness discussed here, however, betrays a fundamental mistrust of their employees. And it brings them a whole lot of negative publicity that could have been avoided.

Companies who feel compelled to spy on the people they hire may find their best workers heading for the door. Once they’re gone, of course, the former employees are then free to use social media to cause all manner of public relations problems for their old companies.

If I were advising companies on their social media and hiring policies, I would strongly recommend they stay away from forcing people to open up their private lives. It’s much easier to leave the door shut than to open it and then regret the negative publicity that may result.

Follow me on Twitter at @charlesprimm.

Written by Charles Primm

March 25, 2012 at 4:17 pm