ATC Social Media Conference

We are coming to the end of the early bird discount period for the joint event between Inspecht and ATC Social Media: A Recruitment Revolution. while the early bird discount is good, register 2 or more delegates and you get an even better deal.

So why attend?

  1. Listen to Australian case studies from Ernst & Young and Atlassian
  2. Hear from Futurist Mark Pesce
  3. Participate in workshops on social recruiting strategies, digital branding and the use of social networking for sourcing
  4. Watch the debate between Stephen Collins and Jake Andrews, from SEEK, on “Do you need a job board when you have social networking?”
  5. Put forward your own ideas and thought in the World Cafe session
  6. Listen and interact with your peers in the special unconference session where you get to control the agenda

This event was inspired by the ERE Social Recruiting Summit so I caught up with Paul Jacobs from Tribe HQ a New Zealander who attended the event with me to find out why he trekked all the way from Wellington New Zealand to San Francisco. (These are definitely NOT Oscar winning performances but we had fun.)

Finally if you are a member of Recruitment 2.0 APAC you could win a free ticket to attend

Jobvite Source: Social Recruiting for All

Late last week Jobvite, who 3 weeks ago secured another $8.25 million in series B funding, launched their latest product Jobvite Source. A product that allows any company to source candidates through a combination of social networks without the need of their larger ATS. Jobvite Source also allows employees to refer jobs on to their contacts across tools such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Effectively Jobvite Source is taking the social recruiting portion their ATS, Jobvite Hire, and making it available for any organisation to use, regardless of the ATS vendor.

Jobvite Source includes the following key features:

  • Social Networking Sourcing
  • Employee Referrals – across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Email etc.
  • Candidate Relationship Management
  • Facebook Application

The images provided to me show a comparison searching for a “product manager” in Jobvite Source vs Google. Where as Google provides a mixture of results, Jobvite Source delivers only potential candidates. A full image was a bit large to place in the post but I uploaded it so you can view.

Other features include a metrics dashboard to show recruiters the progress of their jobs across the different networks.

PR_source_dashboards

I have requested a full demo of the product and will try and post once I have seen it.

Overall an interesting move, the full press release of the launch is available on their website. With an additional $8.25 million I will expecting some big things from Jobvite in the next 12 months.

While Jobvite Source offers lots of features, Australian vendor JobGenie can provide organisations very similar features for a small monthly fee. JobGenie also offers an open API so developers can build right on top of the JobGenie platform, a very unique offering.

Disclosures:

  • JobGenie has been a client of mine.
  • Jobvite were very accommodating of me when I was in San Francisco in June.

The Facebook Five

During my presentation yesterday on social media in the workplace at RecruitTech I spoke briefly about the “Facebook Five” and felt I would expand on my comments here.

In summary six (it was five) NSW prison officers are being threatened with being fired over comments they made on a Facebook page “Suggestion to help Big Ron save a few clams”. This was at a time when the NSW was looking to sell of prisons to save some money.

The case went before the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) this week where the Public Service Association (PSA) filed an application asking the corrective services workers have the treats revoked. The workers are claiming that the comments were private and outside of work.

The PSA has also stated to the IRC that it intends to seek changes to the award to exclude out-of-work hours activities from being dismissible offences. The claim says:

“An employee shall not be the subject of any disciplinary action by reason of conduct that occurs outside working hours and which is intended by the employee to be private in nature”

However QUT Senior Lecturer Peter Black has commented, quite rightly, that can anything online be considered private:

There is certainly, I think an argument that it is a private conversation, however I think that probably ignores the reality of how these sorts of websites operate,

However because there is always a record kept of these sorts of conversations in an online environment, even where it is private, it is very easy for that information to get out beyond the wall.

Another interesting fact to consider is let’s define the work hours. If I answer work emails on a BlackBerry at home and then use the same device to post something on Facebook, was the post outside of work hours or not?

This case looks like it could be one begin to shape our employment laws around social media and the workplace.

RecruitTech Presentation

Today I gave a short presentation at RecruitTech in Canberra on Social Media in the workplace. The official bio was:

Many big organisations continue to block the use of social networking tools in the workplace, whilst others encourage their use.  But how much Facebook surfing and Twittering is too much?  This presentation weighs up the pros and cons of social media in the workplace and the impact of an organisation’s social media policy on its recruitment and retention.

Here are the slides from the presentation.

Social Media In the Workplace

Below are my notes for the talk I have given over the last week on social media in the workplace. I admit they do not flow as an essay as they supplemented my slides, hopefully you can derive my messages.

For nearly 20 years geeks have been operating in the backrooms of your organisations communicating across the Internet using tools such as Gopher, IRC, Usenet and HTTP. Then in 1994 Marc Andressen released Netscape Navigator into the world, since then it has never been the same.

Netscape allowed non technical people for the first time to graphically see not only documents on the Internet but also their relationships. This was the birth of the web as we know it today.

Everything on the web today has been built on these foundations. Including social media.
The first true social technology was the reply all button in email. As much as we often despise this feature for the first time it allowed people, through a single click of a button, to engage and collaborate with a large group of individuals. The first social gesture.

I have spent the last 2 and a half days at the Australasian Talent Conference where there was lots and lots of talk about social media and its impact on business, talent and the workplace. However most of the questions and comments tended to be we don’t understand it, it is a waste of time, we are ignoring it and where is the ROI. There is fear, uncertainty and misinformation amongst many of the leaders in business.

To help overcome these issues I will initially be spending time look at the foundations of social media before taking an trip in to using social media in the workplace.

Continue reading “Social Media In the Workplace”

ATC: James Elliott National Recruitment Director Deloitte

James Elliott took the stage after lunch to give us a run down on Deloitte’s (Update: to clarify this is only the Australian operation and does not reflect the US operations.) recruitment function, specifically their Sourcing function. James indicated he was a little concerned about presenting, mainly because of the real time feedback that would be on Twitter. Some of my notes from the presentation are below:

  • Globally 160,000 people with $27 billion in revenue!
  • They got into sourcing because while operational excellence had meant recruiter efficiencies were up 50%, vacancies where still going up, something had to change
  • In 2007 while 3rd party agencies as a source were low their costs were still very high
  • The Deloitte definition of sourcing is:
    1. Identifying and mapping passive talent for current and future roles
    2. Approaching passive talent
    3. Maintaining talent pipelines through a systemised CRM cycle
  • As part of the move to sourcing they had two key learnings:
    1. Wholesale changes to recruitment processes were needed as sourced candidates need to be treated differently
    2. They had to focus on planning & forecasting which was much harder than first through. Lots of change management, and recruiting team structure to make the transformation possible
  • In general Australian resume databases are extremely poor in quality
  • While they use Taleo as an ATS, it is not a CRM (they use SalesForce) which they needed to:
    • Map competitions
    • Track contacts
    • Segment contacts
    • Manage ongoing CRM through tasks, reminders and emarketing
  • Deloitte’s sends out 4,500 e Newsletter a quarter to people in the CRM
  • The sourcers at Deloitte’s get their prospects from:
    • People who withdraw from the rtecruitment process
    • People who did not get a job they applied for
    • Graduates
    • Phone lists
    • Conference & professional associations
    • Name generation workshops
    • New hire competitor intelligence
    • Web search
    • And dumpster diving
  • Social Recruiting is starting to be used to:
    • Enhance brand & position as an innovative professional services firm
    • Engage external talent by offering an authentic insight into working
    • Leverage employees networks
    • Search for talent directly
  • Deloitte YouTube channel has had 25,000 views
  • They use Twitter to connect applicants to other Deloitte Twitter users in similar areas
  • Built a custom Facebook application called Join Me @ Deloitte to facilitate referrals. The application had 90% of employees install, good number of hires have come through but less than 3 figures even with that James felt the ROI was very good as it was cheap to build
  • As a source 3rd party recruiters provide the worse quality of hire whereas referrals are the best
  •  

More social media and workplace firings

It seems that social media is creating an environment where “firings will continue until moralw picks up”, or it just could be that Asher Moses knows he on to a good thing so his editors keep him writing about it…

So far in April Asher has written five different articles around social media sites and losing your job, that is one every four days! This comes after the flood Conroygate in March. Having said that this all makes great content for this blog so I hope Asher and his editor keep it up.

April 2: Facebook comments by prison guards had them being threatened with disciplinary actions according to one of the guards:

the comments on the Facebook group were largely suggestions of ways Corrective Services could save money without having to privatise prisons. Some disparaging comments were made against senior officials but these were largely “tongue-in-cheek”.

“I personally have no idea who I’ve supposed to have bullied and what comments I’ve made that are defamatory,” the officer said.

“It’s a big waste of taxpayers money to investigate us for having an opinion, the irony of it being that some of the cost saving suggestions we’ve made have actually been implemented.”

April 3: Facebook discipline may be illegal has workplace lawyer Steven Penning saying:

He said employment contracts are unlikely to cover staff use of social networking sites.

“What employers are doing is they’re scrambling and trying to make out that present policies can be stretched to cover these new areas, and in many respects they can’t,” Penning said.

April 8: Facebook snitches cost jobs we have more and more examples of people losing their jobs, although in this article Asher starts to reuse comments by Steven Penning to keep the story moving. Here we have a 20 year old losing her jobs for saying “saying no to working for shitty Government departments” on her Facebook status and then Jane Morgan who said her job sucked so she was sacked.

April 16: Has our dirty Domino crew from the US who were fouling up customers’ food. They were caughtby their YouTube vidoes and have been arrested.

April 17: Finishes the list with accusations that companies are now hiring firms like SR7 to track down dirt on employees so employers can discipline them.

I think things have got a bit out of control, on both sides of the fence. Let’s break this down a bit. 

  • Not wanting to work for shitty Government departments, fair call and most people I talk too tend to say that all Government departments are shitty. I know a heap of people working in the Government who have spoken negatively about their workplaces both online and offline, shall we sack them all? Eventually we might just run out of workers.
  • The prison guards, again my personal view is they seem to want to help, maybe the Department of Corrective Services should sit down with them and listen to their ideas. Usually people only lash out after they have backed into a corner. I have also found most workers actually have great ideas about how to improve the workplace.
  • A workplace with snitches “telling on you” over your Facebook status is a bit like primary school, and I tend to like a place where people get along. Unless of course you are blatantly causing harm to the reputation of your employer. But even then will one small remark from a low level employee really damage the reputation of a large company? The potential PR storm you could have as took place in the UK is a bigger issue I would think. Take this further I know a public officer of a multinational who was alleged involved in a road rage incident, all covered by the press. That guy kept his job, so a Facebook status is not that harmful, really is it?
  • SR7, there are always people out there trying to profit on things that might be considered border line ethically.
  • The Domino’s example, yep sack them but this is not a social media issue.

This is really just setting the scene more later, 

A final note, I will be speaking about these issues in early May in Sydney and Melbourne for FCB Workplace Lawyers, details soon.

(This post has been updated following editorial feedback.)

52 ideas on using social media within HR

It has taken me a while to get this lists published, I originally had the idea six months ago! Below are 50 51 52 ideas on how you can use social media within your HR and Recruitment strategy.

Not all of the ideas are practical for all organisations, and I would never recommend you trying to implement all of them at once! Or for that matter without an overall strategy *insert ad for Inspecht social media consulting here*. The list is more designed to stimulate ideas and discussion on how all these new tools can be used in business today. You will notice most of the ideas require no financial outlay other than a bit of time, so most have a very solid demonstrable ROI.

  1. Get out and personally engage with your peers, join groups such as Recruiting Blogs or HRM Today
  2. Sign up for Twitter
  3. Start an external blog on HR areas that interest you
  4. Join groups on LinkedIn and contribute to the conversation
  5. Get a feed reader and subscribe to blogs about HR & recruiting
  6. Upgrade your internet usage policies so employees understand the “rules of engagement” with social media
  7. Encourage your hiring managers to begin engaging with potential candidates before they are needed
  8. Setup content watchlists and alerts to track suspects & prospects and your competitors key hires
  9. Setup an internal tagging site to allow anyone in the company to “tag” external suspects who might be potential candidates
  10. Use social bookmarking tools to collect links of sites and articles that are relevant to your hiring practices, share these amongst your peers
  11. Teach managers how to use RSS, watchlists and alerts to find out when people are discussing your company and products, as they could be potential candidates
  12. Publish exit interview results (remove incriminating personal content), encourage employees to comment and suggest ways to resolve the issues
  13. Create a wiki for new policy or process development
  14. Create an open 360 degree feedback tool that allows anyone in the company to rate and provide feedback on anyone else
  15. Allow people to bid internal credits for additional project work, once complete the manager then rewards employees with additional credits to be used on other projects
  16. Create an alumni social network to allow you to connect with ex-employees, retirees and long term leave employees, you might get some of them back
  17. As part of outplacement activities provided online branding programs to manage their existing online reputation and to build a sustainable online presence.
  18. Use these tools to focus on headcontent not headcount
  19. Implement a microblogging tool, such as Yammer or Co-op, internally
  20. Publish exit interview answers (personal details removed) on the internal intranet so everyone can see why people are leaving
  21. Deploy a wiki on your careers web site and allow both successful and unsuccessful applicants to document your recruitment process
  22. Implement a Live Chat feature on your careers page so if candidates have questions on jobs or your company they can contact recruiters, or the hiring manager directly
  23. Instead of sending emails, write blog posts, tag them & refer employees to the key posts for information
  24. Develop micro-training programs
  25. Create a employee group on Facebook/MySpace to allow your employees to join together online
  26. Get people blogging internally about their learning experiences, especially those expensive university courses, such as MBAs
  27. Create a page on your intranet (maybe using Yahoo Pipes) to consolidate the WatchLists for key candidates and competitor hires, then share the link to your key hiring managers
  28. Monitor sites like Glassdoor to see what people are saying about your HR practices
  29. Have a blog setup for new employees before they arrive
  30. Include training on blogs, wikis, and sharing tools as part of the induction program
  31. Invite new employees to post welcome messages on intranet, wiki, forum or blog (technology of your choice)
  32. Conduct background research on candidates using search engines
  33. SMS Interview reminders to candidates so they don’t forget, or shift reminders if you are in retail or hospitality
  34. Start a YouTube channel and allow anyone to post videos of their experience either working for, with or being recruited by your company
  35. Create video’s of mock interviews and post on YouTube
  36. Create a cool company recruitment video and post it on YouTube, then pass it around a few friends and see what happens. (Don’t know what a cool recruitment video is, then don’t try.)
  37. Create videos job ads for some of your key positions, post them on YouTube and link tot hem in the job ads
  38. Create a jobs podcast to support major recruitment drives, such as graduates
  39. Create podcasts on your interview process with sample questions and even sample answers to that you get the best results from your interview process
  40. Add your company to Jiibe so the right people come to work for your organisation
  41. Add a share on Facebook, Digg, Stumbleupon link to your job ads
  42. Look at advertising job on social network sites such as Facebook or MySpace, of course the right type of job
  43. Implement the My Company’s Hiring Facebook application
  44. Sponsor some blogs to help prospective candidates understand what it is like to work at your company, or what the recruitment process is like
  45. Use social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, LinkMe, Twitter, World of Warcraft) to develop relationships with potential candidates
  46. Use employee networks and your own social networks as referral networks for jobs
  47. Run a Career Fair in SecondLife
  48. Have your employees & managers run online career fairs, talk about life in the company, court potential talent using social media
  49. Invite your new graduates to your company Facebook group before they join so they can begin engaging with people
  50. Deliver induction/on boarding training via Facebook using the Udutu Teach Facebook application
  51. Have multiple people involved in your campaign, in case someone leaves
  52. Have fun!
UPDATE: After Jason’s comment I thought I would create a downloadable version of the list, so here is 52 Social Media Ideas for HR in PDF format, it is CC licensed so you can do as you wish as long as it is non-commerical in nature.

Meet Brett Iredale from Job Adder

Following last weeks interview with Kevin Howard from Jobs in HR today we have another local recruitment expert Brett Iredale. Brett runs the successful automated job posting system JobAdder and as you will see from the interview an early adopter of technology. While the last few interviews have been focused on recruiting I am working to expand the topics into other areas of HR.

Tell us a bit about your background, how did you end up in the job board business?

My background is in IT, in particular business systems consulting and sales. I started my own business in IT Recruitment in 2001 and first started developing niche job sites in 2002 as a way to attract staff for our recruitment clients. The job boards were really an experiment initially and I was lucky to have the background and the people around me to be able to do it very affordably. Long story short the job board business generated a lot of interest so we white labelled the software, streamlined our processes, automated the entire thing and started rolling out more job boards.

When did you setup JobAdder?

We started developing JobAdder in 2005 for the reasons outlined below.

Who or what was your inspiration to start JobAdder, and can you briefly explain the idea behind JobAdder?

JobAdder came about as a result of our experiences selling job board memberships. As job board owners we kept coming up against 2 issues over and over again:

1. Without an automated job posting solution our advertisers were just not posting their ads so it was very difficult to get traction. Advertisers would ask for an introductory offer but then they wouldn’t get around to posting their jobs because it was all too hard. Converting a client to an ongoing contract from that starting point is nearly impossible.

2. When we started launching job boards we soon discovered that the recruitment systems our clients were using wanted an average of $10,000 a site to integrate our job boards into their posting platforms. It became very clear that most ATS systems see job posting as a low priority pain in the butt. I approached the only dedicated job posting software provider that existed back then and found them even less interested in integrating our job boards. I was told “sorry we only integrate large well known job boards”. That staggering attitude was the impetus for what we now have in JobAdder.

With these challenges in mind we had little choice but to set about solving our own problem.

Can you explain the value proposition of the JobAdder tool?

There are a number of important value props however here are a few of the key ones
1. Save time and money by making it easier and faster to post ads onto multiple job boards
2. Increase staff satisfaction and productivity by reducing menial time consuming tasks
3. Increase job distribution and brand awareness by making it easier to utilise additional job boards
4. Spend your advertising dollars more effectively by better understanding the effectiveness of the job boards you are using.
5. Turn your own web site into an effective candidate attraction channel by using the broad range of tools available in JobAdder such as an integrated job search on your web site, send to a friend, referral tracking, ability to send jobs to social networks, job alerts and more.
6. Control and understand ad spend through the sophisticated job allocation system

How do you feel this approach benefits the advertisers and candidates?

Benefits to advertisers are covered in the previous point. Benefits to job seekers are that consultants have more time to work with candidates, thereby able to provide a better service.

Why did you decide to move away from niche jobs boards, such as NowHiring, to focus only the JobAdder service?

I have a deep passion for niche boards and had I been 2 people and not one I would still be involved. My situation was simply that I had 2 businesses showing strong potential and as a small business I felt that the smart thing to do was to find a home for one and focus 100% on the other. 6 months on I am absolutely certain it was the right move.

You have integrated with over 125 jobs boards, are you able to comment on if niche job boards gaining or losing postings?

I think it is safe to say that across the board most job sites are seeing reduced job volumes. We track the advertising volumes of most major sites in Australia and have been seeing this now for a couple of months. However job board success is not measured purely in job volumes so a drop off in ad numbers in itself does not mean certain sites are struggling. There are a number of niche sites that continue to increase their brand awareness and seem to be making strong inroads.

While you have integrations with the major Australian job boards, what are some of the more obscure boards you work with?

If there was a job site for left-handed Smurfs we would integrate them. Unfortunately we haven’t come across that one yet but we do have a very broad range of niche sites from niche Microsoft software solutions (DynamicsCareers.com) to job and resume sharing sites such as RecRadar.com and the very new 2vouch.com.au. Another niche site that keeps popping up is Adage.com.au – a site for mature aged workers (mature being over 40 years of age, cough cough). Adage recently picked up a gong at the Diversity at Work awards presented by Sir Bob Geldof so it is plain to see that niche sites form an important part of the job board eco system.

You have recently launched a new version of JobAdder, what are some of the new features?

This has been a major new release so pretty much all areas of the product were touched however some of the major enhancements were:

  • Improved User Interface. The UI has been modernised and subtly re-engineered to allow us to continue to expand the product throughout 2009.
  • New job board integration platform. Our developers have spent months developing a new job board integration platform that allows our consultants to add new job board partners in as little as an hour each. It is critical to our growth plans to be able to add new sites quickly and easily.
  • Free trials. We have taken the decision to open up our site to allow prospective clients and clients of other systems to be able to sign in, have a play around and even post live ads to free job sites in our network.
  • A new template system that allows users to easily save and re-use job ads as templates. For example if you have ads you commonly write then you can now save them as templates and use them over and over again as required.
  • Improved spell checking including a new and improved spell checker and the ability for managers to set rules in place so that users cannot post a job without first spell checking it.
  • A new job board module for advertisers wanting to send jobs to their own sites either using iframes or XML. We have always provided this service however the new system includes a number of enhancements such as referral programs, job alerts, ability to send jobs to social networks and more.

Clients can track applicants within the JobAdder tool, does this mean you are really an ATS with a job posting engine?

No, applicant tracking in JobAdder is predominantly for reporting purposes. ATS systems are complex animals and there are some very good ones out there, however as a group they tend to be lousy at job posting so we are continuing to focus on our knitting.

With so many jobs being posted everyday what are some of the tips you could provide for crafting the perfect job posting?

I am not sure there is such a thing as a perfect job posting but in my experience the number one rule is to focus on the person not the job spec. Understand the person you are targeting and write your job ad accordingly. There are a number of ways to understand the kind of person you are targeting and I don’t recommend one method over the other. The important thing is that you do understand the type of person you are after and write the ad as though it is written just for them.

You recently blogged in late October that “The reality for job boards is that the strong will get stronger and the weak will get weaker.” Can you explain this statement a bit further.

I don’t believe a downturn in itself creates more opportunity for niche sites. Advertisers tend to rationalise their ad spend when things tighten up so by definition it cannot mean a blanket advantage to niche job sites. What we are seeing is that advertisers are seeking efficiencies as they are in all other areas of their business. This means looking at where they are getting best results so that they can spend a greater percentage of their budget with proven performers and spend less on speculative channels . If (and only if) a niche site is delivering strong results to an advertiser then there is every chance it could be selected on a panel instead of a second or third ranked generalist site.

We are seeing a similar thing in the generalist market. A lot of advertisers who were previously advertising with 3 generalist job boards have rationalised that back to 2 sites.

For this reason I believe the relative gap between top and bottom stretches in a downturn. There is not as much money to go around so stragglers and underperformers will be left behind and strong performers who are adding real value will shore up their positions and move ahead relative to their competition.

What do you see as the current trends for recruiting talent in Australia over the coming one to two years?

That is a broad question but I see a strong sustained move towards technology and towards corporate careers sites (of course you would expect me to say that).

For example I know quite a few companies in Australia now receiving more than 15% of all job applications through their own web sites. At the other end of the spectrum we still have some large recruiters and corporate advertisers who don’t even advertise their jobs on their web site.

There will continue to be a lot noise around social networking however I think it will largely continue to just be noise.

Do you see a growth in posting jobs via social networks such as Facebook, MySpace or Twitter?

I hear an increase in the number of people talking about such sites however a lot of the noise is coming from people who don’t really use or understand these mediums. I do use them to varying degrees and so do all the people who work here and so far we remain underwhelmed.

Linkedin (Facebook for adults) will continue to grow in popularity and effectiveness but I am afraid I do not see Facebook and Myspace as the next hot frontiers in online recruitment.

That said we will continue to invest in leading edge technology and will continue to look very closely at anything that we believe will add value to our users. For example we are currently working on some significant social networking initiatives for 2009 and are trialling in some very exciting emerging technologies that we hope to roll out in coming months.

What blogs do you read and why do you recommend them?

Unfortunately I don’t read as many blogs as I used to. I tend to read a lot of technology and trend related blogs (mainly out of the US) however won’t give away my favourite ones in this article if that’s OK. In terms of online recruitment I read Cheezhead although he has lost focus over the last 6 months so my interest there is waning. I read your blog of course Michael, John Sumser, Mashable, Standout Jobs Blog, The AIM Group, YourHRGuy, Destination Talent and many of the other usual suspects.

It is difficult recommending blogs because they are such a personal thing. It depends on the industry you are in, your particular personal interests, the writing styles you like and so on.

What other social media tools, if any, do you use?

My tried and tested social media of choice remain the phone, the BBQ and a bottle of wine.

For me “online social media” is still a contradiction in terms. If I am online I am either working or wasting time but I am definitely not socialising.

Any final comments or words of wisdom?

I am too young to be wise and as my wife always reminds me, nothing I say is final.

Social networking sites increase employee productivity

An interesting piece by David Quach on the ABC News site (Hat Tip @aussienick) about how more people should use Facebook to improve worker productivity. Here is the summary:

Well, while any adverse effect of Facebook on productivity is detrimental to the economy, economic theory also suggests that the economy could be improved if there were more users. In other words, as long as Facebook isn’t used at work too much, everyone would be better off if more people used it.

The basic idea is that each user of Facebook not only gains individual benefits from using the social networking site, but also provides (network) benefits to other people. And since people generally do not take into account the benefits to other people when deciding whether or not to join Facebook, there are fewer users than is ideal for society.

Allow me to explain.

In the language of economics, Facebook is said to exhibit network effects; it is a technology that becomes more valuable as more people use it (and the network gets larger), like mobile telephones or fax machines, for example.

The network effect is real and does increase productivity. But what really got me interested was the comments being left by readers which ranged from full support to a complete lack of support. The comments could be classified into four major themes:

  • What about your privacy
  • Facebook is the best thing
  • Facebook is a complete waste of time
  • People with real social lives don’t use Facebook

Here are a few.

Cricket:

27 Nov 2008 2:22:02pm

Concur. I take singular delight in not being registered on any of these social networking sites. People with REAL social lives don’t have the time to waste on them.

Jeremy:

28 Nov 2008 12:13:05am

Nobody forces you to post every detail of your life on facebook. If you consider it a public place and only post things you’d be happy posting in public then you have nothing to worry about.

Merlin 23:

27 Nov 2008 2:11:48pm

The statement “Concerns about Facebook’s negative effect on the economy – especially an economy on the verge of recession – were raised just recently when 13 Virgin Atlantic staff were sacked for criticising the airline online” is proposterous.

‘Facebook’ is an application and didn’t do anything – the people using it did. The same result would have occurred if they done the same thing using the any other form of media and their boss heard about it.

Di:

27 Nov 2008 3:25:12pm

We are all selfish for not joining face book! I can’t believe this guy wrote such an article! It is amazing the space that he took up saying so little.
I agree with the statements in the comments regarding fraud, identity theft, and invasion of privacy! It does happen and as much as it may be stated that its safe and ok, personally I won’t take the risk. I have plenty of ways to communicate with friends without reducing myself to that level. So go ahead – call me selfish!

From a business point of view Merlin 23 is correct Facebook/MySpace/etc is not the problem, management is. What would you do if someone was always late to work, spent too long at lunch or on a smoking break (do they still have them)? Same thing should be done if people are wasting time on Facebook.

Privacy is an issue but it needs to be managed. Jeremy is right, no one is forcing you to put all your details on the site, remember The Mother Test?

Cricket seems confused. While claiming to be a real person with a social life they seem to have the time to hang out commenting online ;-). Which brings me to my final point, usage of social media is growing in Australia and growing quickly.

In the 2007 Q1 Forrester Technographics Survey of Australian Adults online found 11% were Creators of content, 23% Critics on content, 5% Collectors of content, 14% Joiners to social networks, 38% Spectators reading what other said and 56% Inactives ignoring social media. 12 months on these figures had changed dramatically 2008 Q1 Forrester Technographics Survey showed:

  • 26% Creators
  • 35% Critics
  • 16% Collectors
  • 45% Joiners
  • 63% Spectators
  • 24% Inactives 

With this sort of growth David Quach will get his wish, but businesses out there who do not know how to manage employees within this new world will have a lot of trouble.

UPDATE: Minutes after hitting post I found a story from Financial Times blogs on time clock watching bosses discussing the “Japanese concept of ba: a hard-to-translate notion that, in this context, appears to describe an elevated state of knowledge-sharing between colleagues.”