What is Facebook?
Hart (2013) ranks Facebook as number nine on her list of top 100 tools for learning and, unless you have been living under a rock :), most people know what Facebook is. In case you do not, Facebook is a social media website that enables people to network by sharing information and photos; it is a dominant social force evidenced by 1.3 billion users (Smith, 2013) across multitudinous countries. To demonstrate Facebook’s functionality, the author of this blog lives in Philadelphia, PA and Facebook allows him to keep track of his three nieces who live five hours drive away in Pittsburgh, PA. As we speak, he is checking Facebook to see his niece’s costumes for Halloween. However, Facebook is so much more because it allows people to express themselves as individuals! To explain, people take to Facebook to comment on daily events such as having a baby, buying a new car, or getting a new pet. Moreover, people often comment on world events like the United States Presidential election or Super Bowl and Shirky (2009) describes these events as shared social experiences. Finally, Facebook allows people to reconnect who may not otherwise get the chance. For instance, the author found high school friends through Facebook after 15 years passed and subsequently met them for dinner.
In comparing Friedman (2007), uploading and the steroids are two of his ten-flattener forces that enabled Facebook. Friedman (2007) describes downloading as the sharing of photos and videos, which is core functionality to Facebook. However, Facebook would not be as successful without what Friedman (2007) defines as steroids which amplify and empower forms of collaboration. To illustrate, the proliferation of smartphones and tablets such as the Ipad in developed countries enabled users to access Facebook anytime and anywhere. Next, the author discusses applications of Facebook to business.
Business applications for leaders
Applying Facebook to the discipline of business, leaders today develop a strategy for social media based on goals of the company and the demographic it covets. Based on this analysis, leaders decide if a social media presence fits with their organization. If they desire a presence on Facebook, leaders can utilize tools such as advertising, Facebook pages, and Facebook groups. For example, some companies pay Facebook to advertise to its 1.3 billion users (Smith, 2013) across the globe. However, if companies do not want to pay for advertising, businesses can setup a Facebook page where users hit a like button to receive content. To manifest the power of Facebook pages, the author of this blog works for a financial services firm and reaching the millennial generation challenges the company. To motivate these potential young investors, the firm setup a Facebook page where it targets content touting the benefits of investing, compounding, and saving for retirement for these echo-boomers. The goal is to speak to these young investors in their preferred medium. Finally, leaders can setup a closed group to communicate with members on their team. For example, the author’s cohort for Creighton’s doctoral program in leadership setup a closed Facebook group to facilitate conversations among students; the author’s observation is the cohort group page made his cohort much closer. Leaders in business could utilize a similar approach. If your organization uses Facebook, how does it do so?
The largest downside for leaders to consider in using Facebook is privacy. To illustrate, privacy groups are irritated that Facebook’s new policy allows it to use personal data about users for advertising purposes (Guarini, 2013). The author of this blog thinks the recent changes by Facebook violate user’s personal space and, as leaders, we must stand up for what we think is equitable. Some users already took a stand by leaving Facebook; Vibes (2013) reports 11 million Facebook users dropped because of privacy concerns. The number seems like a drop in the bucket compared to 1.3 billion users (Smith, 2013); however, a movement starts with one!
Along similar lines, another downside for leaders to consider for Facebook is its future relevancy. With the continual evolution of technology, leaders should have a pulse if users move away from Facebook. If you do not think it can happen, recall Myspace, the predecessor to Facebook. Leadership entails strategizing to anticipate when users move to the next big thing and being in a position to capitalize on the opportunity!
On a more macro level, parents are the ultimate leaders. Facebook’s downside for children is possible exposure to predators or bullying. Therefore, parents must be vigilant with regard to their children and their usage of Facebook. For example, many of the author’s friends do not allow their children on Facebook until a certain age such as 16. Furthermore, once children join Facebook, many parents monitor the child’s activities on the website. Regardless, parents should take the necessary precautions to safeguard their children. Changing gears from Facebook, the author next analyzes instant messenger.
Instant messenger changed this author’s life at work! In reviewing Hart’s (2013) list of top 100 tools for learning, the author’s experience is instant messenger applications such as WhatsApp improve client experiences and productivity. Although the author’s organization does not use WhatsApp, his company utilizes a similar internal system. As background, his company elevated a new instant messenger system for employees about a year ago and he leads multiple client service teams. Prior to the elevation, his teams gathered in a room for client conference calls and put the phone on and off mute to answer questions about a service, product, or project; in essence, the calls felt choppy. With the new company instant messenger system, he directs his teams where to take conversations real-time during client conference calls. For example, if a client asks a question for which he does not know the answer, he sends an instant message to request help from an expert on the team. Furthermore, if a member of the team introduces a sensitive topic, unbeknownst to that person, to the client, the author sends an instant message requesting the team member cut the conversation. The result is a better experience for clients.
Productivity is another benefit to instant messenger. To illustrate, the author receives calls from clients on a regular basis regarding the status of financial transactions, such as an employee’s loan or withdrawal from their 401(k). Previously, he instructed the client he would call them back after researching the request with the processing team. Now with instant messenger, he can chat real-time with the processing person responsible to get a status and rely it immediately to the client. Think of the time saved; that is real power! Does your organization use company instant messenger? If so, what is your experience? If not, do you think your organization would benefit by doing so?
Friedman, T. L. (2007). The world is flat (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Picador.
Hart, J. (2013). Top 100 tools for learning 2013. Retrieved from http://c4lpt.co.uk/top100tools/
Shirky, C. (2009, June 16). Clay Shirky: How cellphones, Twitter, Facebook can make history [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_iN_QubRs0&feature=youtu.be
Smith, C. (2013). How many people use 275 of the top social media, apps & services? Retrieved from http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/resource-how-many-people-use-the-top-social-media/
Vibes, J. (2013). 11 million users drop Facebook over privacy concerns. Retrieved from http://intellihub.com/2013/09/18/11-million-users-drop-facebook-privacy-concerns/