Gary Beach, the Publisher Emeritus of CIO Magazine, writes about his excitement as a user of LinkedIn: A proud Member of the LinkedIn Generation. His grand vision is have every CIO, CTO or CSO become one of his connections in LinkedIn. (Why are CKOs not invited?) He calls this having "some fun."
Unfortunately, he dismisses Facebook as the "domain of Gen Y." That Boomers like him need not apply. He compares Facebook to the Tom Wolfe bestseller, I Am Charlotte Simmons, about "a young woman who discovers that college ia all about booze, sex and bad behavior."
Clearly he has just read about Facebook and not tried to use it.
LinkedIn is a great tool to share connections and create an online resume. And it is a good first step into social media. I encourage everyone to start with LinkedIn as their first foray into social media.
But LinkedIn is not "fun." You can hunt down "connections" to people in your firm, former classmates and contacts in your address book. But once you make the connections and finish your LinkedIn profile, there is not much else to do. There is a very limited ability to share information with your connections.
That is where Facebook comes in. It is the second step I encourage people to take in social media. Facebook allows you to share information about yourself, both personal and professional.
If Mr. Beach tries Facebook maybe he would see that Facebook is a communications platform. Social media is about empowering people to distribute information about themselves and about things that interest them. Facebook is powerful tool for distributing information to your "friends." It is powerful enough that at least one firm has chosen to use Facebook as its Intranet.
Of course there is a lot of frivolous communication in Facebook. (Just as there is lots of frivolous communication in your company's email) There is also lots of personal communications and lots of professional communication in Facebook. Where do you draw the line? One person may view a set of pictures as a drunken party. To others it is just the company holiday party.
You should not dismiss Facebook just because it was originally created by college students for college students. Now it is a multi-billion dollar company with over 50 million users. Some of those are bound to be people you know and some of them are letting you know more about themselves and publishing some useful information.