Does Facebook want grown-ups?

Pop quiz: Is Facebook the new place to build your professional network and interact with your business contacts? Robert Scoble says yes. Scott Karp says no. And although Robert has the larger audience, Facebook's reaction to one recruiter's mass connection request suggests that they agree with Scott.

Import your contacts, but not too many
Marketing Headhunter Harry Joiner was summarily kicked out when he tried to import his Gmail contacts (which FB explicitly supports). He tripped over an unmarked threshold and was automatically banned. The response he got when he tried to address the problem with Facebook wasn't encouraging:

Abusing the features of the site to spam other people is not
permitted. In addition, it is a violation of our Terms of Use to use one's account for advertising or promotional puroses [sic]. I'm sorry, but you will no longer be able to use Facebook. This decision is final.
Spam may be in the eye of the beholder, but remember that Harry was importing his address book—these are people already in his (real-world) network. The decision to kill his account was based on the number of connections, not their quality. Given the quick reaction, it wasn't based on complaints, either.

Beer or business?
Jim Durbin summarizes the challenge to Facebook as they decide how to reconcile the interests of their student/social base with the adult/professional crowd that has fueled recent growth (and see his new campaign for FB, too):

I wonder how many of those 30 million members signed up because they wanted to make money, and heard Facebook was the next big thing? If we can't use it, we'll leave. And if we leave, the Facebook bubble pops, and returns to a social website for teens and college kids. That's over half the users. Yep—over half of Facebook Users are over the age of 25. We're not on it to arrange parties or meet people.

The Faceboook trend is hot enough that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) introduced a Facebook policy (via Ian Ketcheson):
The CBC is directing its journalists to avoid adding sources or contacts as “Facebook friends,” and to not post their political leanings on their profile.
Faceboook needs to decide if they want business happening on the site or not. With work-related details in profiles, work-related groups and the open membership policy, the service appears to be open for business (although LinkedIn is still better suited to professional networking). The existing policies, though, aren't on board with that direction.

One parting thought from Harry:

Note to Facebook: Wall St. is watching how you manage recruiters and recruiting researches. We are happy to keep our business on LinkedIn, who seems perfectly happy to cash my fat checks each year.

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About Nathan Gilliatt

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  • Voracious learner and explorer. Analyst tracking technologies and markets in intelligence, analytics and social media. Studying complexity and futures.
  • Principal, Social Target

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