Facebook Not So Useful as a Business Tool

Ann All

Back in October, I wrote about Facebook's efforts tomake itself more attractive to business users by, among other things, allowing users to segregate their business contacts from their strictly social ones.


This is handy, I agree, but it doesn't exactly make Facebook a business tool.


Any of you Facebook lovers out there need proof? According to a new study from Flowing Data, just a tiny percentage of Facebook's 23,160 applications are business-oriented. News.com blogger Caroline McCarthy notes that nearly half of them, 9,601, are "just for fun" while the "gaming" and "sports" categories include more than 2,000 apps each. Thus, she sums up, most of Facebook's applications are "goofy time-wasters."


As someone who regularly gets Super-Poked, I can't say that I am surprised. It's not uncommon for me to feel like hurling something at colleagues, so I guess it's useful that Facebook offers the option of tossing sheep at them -- but I rarely give in to the temptation.


Of course, there are companies out there that have figured outinnovative ways to use Facebook. Serena Software, which uses a private Facebook group and some specialized apps in place of an intranet for its 800 employees, is an often-cited example. Yet many companies have barred their employees from using Facebook at the office, after finding employees devote more time to activities such as tossing sheep rather than work.


I can use Facebook at work, but I don't often care to. Evidently I am not the only one who feels this way. IT Business Edge blogger Loraine Lawson writes:

I do not get Facebook as a business tool. Oh sure, Facebook is great for keeping up with my friends' reading habits or musical tastes without actually talking to them. But even when I've tried to use Facebook for more professional pursuits, it fell flat. In particular, I don't get "the Wall." How are you supposed to use it? It's not really good at anything: Blogs are better for posting personal updates; e-mail, IM and discussion groups are all better for conversation and comments. To me, the Wall is like a pencil without a lead - pointless.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
May 8, 2008 4:02 PM Robert Robert  says:
Perhaps the golden prize is not Facebook itself but rather what it represents to the business world. Consider that the fastest growing demographic on Facebook is 25+ years old...a.k.a. employees. Combine that with the fact that corporate networks on Facebook are getting pretty big. IBM has 34,000 users in its network. Microsoft has 30,000, Cisco 10,000, P&G 7,500 and so on. 34,000 people from IBM joined facebook; created their own "personal workspaces" and found each other on this application. They self organized into the largest corporate network on Facebook and did so without anyone telling them to do so. That's pretty impressive! The golden prize here is finding out a way to harness that kind of collaborative power within the company and use it to drive innovation. So forget about Facebook for the enterprise - it's all about creating an environment of universal collaboration based on the concept of a connected workspace. Reply
May 14, 2008 6:00 PM Wayne Byrne Wayne Byrne  says:
I think that as facebook grows and social media grows as a platform for reaching people it will get more and more accepted by corporations.For example there is some talk these days about building CRM applications that integrate with Facebook for a more social sales experience.One tool for building such an application can be downloaded free from www.getIceberg.com Reply
May 14, 2008 6:06 PM Mae Baker Mae Baker  says:
While Facebook does meet a specific need, more and more people are looking to better inetegrate this type of technology for business use. A BETA site has just launched this year that is based on new technology, designed by and for business professionals, and can revolutionize how business can be conducted online while developing real offline B2B relationships! Anyone interested should take the time to learn about; OneDegreeConnected.com. While currently still in BETA, the full UPGRADED version is expected by ind of May. Reply
May 15, 2008 2:10 PM Paul Desjardins Paul Desjardins  says:
I attended a guest lecture at the University of Waterloo given by William Albino, CEO of Ontario's Smart Systems for Heath. Bill is a former executive of EDS and now leads this commercial agency of the Government of Ontario that is tasked with implementing Electronic Health Records in the province.In the Q&A, I made the provocative suggestion that "I feel that I could accomplish this task as a Facebook application built by two teenagers over the course of a weekend" and asked him to what degree SSHA was considering social networking standards such as Google's Open Social in their application development.I got a chuckle from the audience, a smile from Bill and the typical "we've got to be concerned about security" response I expected.To me, the "friends" paradigm is the binding structure that makes EHR's useful and productive. I'm friends with my self, with my caregivers, with the chronic disease management devices that check my levels...my family physician is friends with his referral partners, with his hospital...my labs are friends with their community of coverage, etc..I don't write off Facebook's intellectual property so frivolously, while I do believe the current use to be frivolous."Facebook" as a generic concept promises to be a de facto means by which one consolidates relationships into a useful GUI / information search and retrieval platform.Think "change of address" and how wide a consequence that has in one's life...as we change, we maintain all those things we value and shed all those things we no longer value... Reply
May 16, 2008 4:00 PM Peter Peter  says:
I agree it's not a "business tool" but businesses should take a serious look at integrating social media in their marketing strategy. And people are making money with Facebook ... it doesn't mean you have to bite vampires and load up a bunch of dumb apps on your profile. Reply
Sep 3, 2008 2:48 PM Joanne Grey Joanne Grey  says:
Facebook can give you a really good idea about an organisation and its staff. I've used it to research companies that I want to know more about, as it gives me a better idea of the people within an organisation. I certainly believe that social networking and business networking are moving closer and closer together.... Reply

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