Monday, July 23, 2007

Does anyone know _________?: CRM vs. LinkedIn vs. Facebook

One of the most common requests that comes across my firm's email system is "Does anyone know ______?" Lately, I have been thinking about how our CRM system compares against LinkedIn and Facebook to answer this question and the type of information each provides to answer the question.

The question of "does anyone know ___? is really looking for one of two things: (1) Can anyone introduce me to the person? or (2) Does anyone know anything about this person?

First up is InterAction, our internal Customer Relationship Management software. It shows the typical contact information, as well as being able to show employment history, marketing activities and matters the person has been involved in. It ties into Outlook so that Outlook and InterAction are synced together. If a person is in your Outlook Contacts and you have shared the contact as public, you are shown as knowing the person.

InterAction is a great source for answering the question, "Does anyone know ____?" It works better for establishing the first level of introduction, where someone is looking for another to introduce them to a third party. Although, InterAction can hold information about the person, it generally does not have much information beyond contact information and who knows the person. It is easy to find a person’s information and add them to your contacts.

The problem is that most contacts only have basic contact information. Most users do not populate the additional relationship and information fields available in InterAction. The other problem is convincing users to make their contacts public to the firm. Without this step, the relationship is not shown.

I am marked as knowing 1,300 contacts in InterAction.

LinkedIn is great tool for finding people and setting up a "connection." Here, the contact information is totally controlled by the contact themselves. For some contacts, there is a wealth information. The information can be great, but it depends on the person setting up the account in LinkedIn and adding the information. The background information is much more textual and descriptive than the spreadsheet-like InterAction information.

LinkedIn is focused on the ability to answer the question of "Can anyone introduce me to ____?" LinkedIn wraps a network around you and the people you know. The first level is the connections with the people you know. It creates a second network of the connections to your connections. Then, it creates a the third network of the connections to the connections to your connections.

For my network, I have 62 people in my first level of contacts. At the second level, those 62 people have 2,200+ connections. Then at the third level, it results in 188,600+ connections. If someone is in my network (but not one of my 62 contacts), I can ask for an introduction from one of my 62 contacts, who would in turn pass it along through the connection chain.

Facebook is easily the least "professional" of these systems. Like LinkedIn, it requires a contact to set up an account and add information. The information can be incredibly robust and cover both professional and personal life. With its birth on college campus, much of the Facebook platform is focused on personal activities. But with the new applications available, there is an increasingly ability to provide professional information.

It is easy to create a “friend.” Just click “Add to Friends” and the contact gets a message asking to be your “friend,” which they can approve or deny. Once a person is a friend, you get to jump right into all of the their information.

I have 8 "friends" in Facebook. [Add me as a friend.]

Obviously comparing the three platforms is like comparing, apples, oranges and potatoes. They do different things. But they are all focused on creating, displaying and exploiting the relationships among people.

The power of each system is based on the power of the network theory. The more people that use the network, the more useful it becomes. InterAction is the most useful tool within the enterprise because so many people use it. Assuming that I am representative of the attorneys in the firm, there is a sharp drop off in the utility of LinkedIn and even sharper drop to Facebook.

Comparing the 8 friends in Facebook to the 62 connections in LinkedIn is a reflection of the user demographic. I loaded my list of contacts from InterAction into both. It just turns out that only 62 of my 1,300 contacts are in LinkedIn and almost none of them are in Facebook.
These social tools have a great ability to set up connections and give you background information on people. But they still suffer from a lack of users.

1 comment:

  1. I find that if i wanna find people, i go with so far they've had the best results when i need to run a people search. find people


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.