Posts Tagged “branchout facebook”
Just when you thought you were on top of your social media and professional networking, it is time to think again. Or is it? BranchOut, the new professional networking application on Facebook, would tell you it is, but the jury seems to be out on whether it offers anything new or better than Linkedin.
BranchOut, a newish social networking application for Facebook, allows you to make professional connections via your Facebook friends – and then connects you to their friends…and so on. In other words, it identifies the professional and company profiles of your Facebook connections and changes the nature of these connections from ‘friends’ to contacts.
I signed up recently, but unlike with Pinterest (which I have also newly joined) I didn’t sign up because there was a buzz which made me genuinely curious, I joined because I was invited and it seemed a reasonable idea (Why not? I am still looking around for part-time work and it never hurts to make connections…).
There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of online chatter about BranchOut at this stage. When signing up I did a little research (and then again before writing this post) in order to see what people are saying about it. And they don’t seem to be saying much; and when they do, it’s with some negativity.
Forum discussions I came across about BranchOut expressed views that landed somewhere between indifference and doubt. Most people’s reservations appear to hinge on concerns that:
1. People prefer to keep Facebook for personal connections and use Linkedin for professional contacts.
2. Users feel they may have their professional identities compromised if BranchOut contacts have access to their (more private) Facebook information.
The first point is valid and rings true with me – although everyone uses these platforms differently. I certainly find myself connected to people on Linkedin who would really be more appropriate connections on Facebook – and occasionally, vice versa. But on the whole I do use the two sites for very different things, largely differentiating between my personal and professional personas.
BranchOut has ways to combat the second issue and that there are various privacy settings that a person can use to ensure that the overlap between private and public spheres is limited. For example, BranchOut provides an option to use a different (and more professional) profile picture from the one a user has attached to their regular Facebook profile (extremely relevant in my case as my FB profile pic is a colourful ’South Park’ figure with a wand!).
But experience has shown us that a large proportion of Facebook users do not know how to manage their privacy settings properly and very few users keep abreast of the ever-changing landscape of Facebook in order to know when they need to change settings or adapt to the site’s new configurations. This seems an issue of genuine concern.
I would also throw my own additional reservation that this may well be just another social networking site which will take time to utilise and seems, at least at the moment, to offer little worthwhile return. And really, there is only so much time I have for social networking…
The Google + experience has shown that even the most talked about social media developments can prove to be disappointing. The rewards derived from an individual user’s social networking tends to be directly related to the amount they engage themselves. This means time and effort. And such engagement is only worthwhile – particularly for professional connections – if there is a vibrant and active community of users. In other words, BranchOut could work, but only if people use it, and even then it is no guarantee that I am going to land a job from it.
But despite all this, I do in fact see a number of reasons that would recommend the use of the application, including:
1. Due to the very size of Facebook, BranchOut can tap into a much larger catchment pool. Facebook’s active user numbers dwarf those for Linkedin (as of the end of March 2012, Facebook claimed more than 900 million active users compared to 161 million for Linkedin) and this level of market penetration is a definite advantage.
2. It connects you with your Facebook friends and their friends in a different way. BranchOut focuses on the professional details of connections and highlights this information in a way that most people would be unlikely to do on their own. It gives an existing network an entirely new complexion and utility.
Taking all this into account, however, I am still not sure. I have signed up, but I haven’t yet changed my profile pic (bad) nor have I really explored the possibilities offered by the application. And I expect I am not alone in thinking that now that I have signed up I will simply bide my time until I hear that it is worthwhile to go back and engage more.
And I am still yet to be convinced that its use will connect me with a job. But then to be fair, I am not yet convinced that Linkedin will either.
Marjorie Solomon is the founder and editor of Talking Comms Jobs. She has 15 years communications experience and is probably still a job seeker.