E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

How to Boost Your Social Capital with Facebook

I am sure that over the course of the last few days most of you folks out there may have bumped into one article or another around the subject of the usefulness, or not, from Facebook. So far, it looks like knowledge workers may not be completely sold out on it just yet and keep commenting on what works really well and what needs some further improvement. One of those really good articles that I have enjoyed thoroughly is the one from Thomas van der Wal titled "Facebook for Business or LinkedIn Gets More Valuable", that he shared a couple of days back, where he concludes:

"Facebook really needs to open up and to get a clue about people and information and the needs people have for information, such as holding on to that information and using it outside the system. Facebook is just fodder for the next social software service that does this right, on top of the 45% of things that Facebook got right and be the next media darling worth billions that never amounted to much"

I strongly suggest you take a look and read through the entire article that Thomas put together, because it surely has got some really good points on what really works from other social networking tools like LinkedIn and Facebook, but it also indicates where the latter is failing to deliver with really insightful gems as this one:

"Facebook developers have a huge amount of learning about information, information flow, and information use in people’s lives. Information is part of social interaction and what makes literate beings stand out is doing something, often using and reusing information."

I must say that I have been using LinkedIn for quite some time now and still use it quite heavily to connect with other business contacts. But all along I have felt that there was something missing in it that I just couldn’t figure out (And it wasn’t the capability of adding your picture that was added recently). And that was till I decided to jump into Facebook.

Yes, I am sure that most of you would remember my initial reservations about making the move to it, but after those initial reservations have been fixed, I must say day in day out I am enjoying quite a bit the Facebook experience. More than anything else because it has allowed me to stay connected with my various social networks and further contacts at the same time that it is helping me fill the void that LinkedIn was leaving all along. And that was the fact that through Facebook I am able to build further up on my social capital skills in such a way that not only do I feel connected with my business contacts, but at the same time I am able to find lots of different social capital details that I wouldn’t be able to in other tools, i.e. LinkedIn. In short, I am able to build up better images of the people I connect with on a regular basis.

I am not really going to deny that Facebook really needs to improve on a wide range of the different capabilities that it has got, like managing the re-use of information, that Thomas mentioned above, or the groupings, for instance, but if you are looking for an application that would allow you to keep in touch with your social networks, not only from a business perspective, but also from a personal perspective, Facebook is probably as good as it gets. At least, for now.

I am not sure what you would think, but, to me, one of the best ways to connect with people is by being able to find common ground, interests, ice-breakers, something in common to both that we can share going further than just the pure business contact, so that we can start slowly building up our trust levels and collaborative working. To me that is the whole key behind social networks, that kind of connection. And Facebook seems to be exceedingly good at it, although I can agree there is still room for improvement, but I am sure that over time it will eventually get there.

That’s why, as you may have noticed from my one of my Internet blogs, I have now removed a good number of the different widgets I had on each side of the blog template and moved most of them to Facebook (Still waiting for MyBlogLog to jump on board), where I have finally decided to invest in building my social capital. At the same time, I am also adding a number of different FB apps. that would allow me to keep building further up on my trust levels with my contacts.

Dennis McDonald asked me some time ago what kind of approach I would be taking with regards to FB apps., whether I would be going minimalist and just add the odd one, or whether I would go full board, meaning adding plenty of them. I must say that at the beginning I thought about going minimalist on the overall approach, but very soon I realised it was not going to work. Main reason being that I am actually making use of a good number of applications that help me get a much better picture from each and everyone of my social networks contacts.

I am not sure whether I have settled in already with the number of FB apps. I will be using, perhaps I will create a blog post at some point putting together my Top 10 favourite ones, but, for the time being, I am still experimenting at the same time that I am watching quite closely how Facebook may be pulling its act together so that in the end it would help me manage and re-use better the information from those connections. Oh, and if in the mean time it doesn’t provide me with a complete picture of it all, what would be the problem? It will not be the first, nor the last social software tool where conversations come and go by and where / when needed they would eventually get back to me. In whatever the shape, in whatever the form. It’s all part of the flow…

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  1. Luis –

    Let me share a story about the communication and social network powers of Facebook.

    One of my “friends” in Facebook is a person who works in my office. We take up 14 floors in the office tower, so I can go weeks without seeing him. We both regularly update our status, post items and do the other typical Facebook activities.

    Last week, after not meeting face-to-face or otherwise directly communicating for a few weeks, we ran into each other in the stairwell. We both remarked: “It feels like we talk every day.”

    It is this indirect communication feature of Facebook that is so powerful. LinkedIn is great for maintaining contacts. But it is not very good at being a communications tool. At its core, Facebook is a very powerful communications tool.

    I feel like we talk every day.


  2. Hi Luis,

    Though I am not yet on Facebook (ya, there are still guys like me out there), and the only site I actually connect on is LinkedIn, from what I have read about Orkut tells me that there is a lot of stuff happening out there, a lot of it desirable, and some of it not much so.

    The thing quite nice about LinkedIn is the way they have positioned it, where I can connect with people only on a professional interest basis. Not that I have too many connections (around 70), but thats not the point, I think. Most of the guys on the connections are folks with whome I interact, either from college, or from my professional perspective, and this takes care of the school lunchroom comment on Thomas’ blog.

    One thing I think is quite nice over at LinkedIn, is the Answers feature. The way you can attach your questions to categories, the way answers can be written and read, and particularly, how you can refer an expert. I think this is really nice!

    Hope you are enjoying your new role!

    Cheers, Atul.

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