Facebook Not So Useful as a Business Tool


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.