Facebook rules the World?

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?

Downsides

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

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?

References

Friedman, T. L. (2007). The world is flat (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Picador.

Guarini, D. (2013). Hold your gaps, Facebook is under fire for its privacy policy again. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/05/facebook-privacy-ftc_n_3873764.html

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/

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14 thoughts on “Facebook rules the World?

  1. Nice review. Each of us approaches social media differently. For me, Twitter is my “professional” channel and Facebook is my “friends and family” channel. Yet I frequently set up private Facebook groups for classes I teach to college-aged students, as I do not have to friend them in order to communicate with them…and it becomes an avenue by which students can ask questions and answer their own questions…freeing me of having to answer the same question a dozen times by email.

    Both Facebook and Twitter are examples of social media that slips through the walls of an organization…unlike Sharepoint that tends to be within a company. As Shirky points out, that leads to both transparency and issues with message management.

    And your comment about current tech relevancy is spot on. Both of my college age nieces have dropped Facebook in favor of Instagram (which I dutifully joined in order to stay connected).

    • Our department at my university surveys incoming students during new student orientation each year about their social media use. (We have about 400 new freshmen each year.) The changes have been fascinating. In 2009, MySpace was the most used social network among our new students (68%), and Facebook was second (61%). For our new students in 2013, none (0%) were on MySpace. Interestingly, this year was the first time that the percentage of Facebook users dropped from the previous year. In 2012 it was 92%, and it dropped to 86% in 2013. To your point, Dr. Watwood, we’re seeing teenagers slowly migrate away from Facebook, as we saw a dramatic increase in the use of Instagram. The same was true with Twitter; 19% of our new students were using Twitter last year, and that percentage increased to 39% with this year’s freshman class.

  2. Thank you for sharing your post. Privacy is definitely a concern on Facebook. On one hand, Facebook has provided individuals with the opportunity to empower themselves by sharing and connecting with others online. Friedman (2007) noted that, “If you look at the Facebook.com phenomenon, an online social directory spreading virally high schools and colleges, millions of young people now have a platform for telling their own stories” (p. 118). Despite gaining the opportunity to “flatten” the world through Facebook, security and privacy issues regarding the site have raised concerns from users. In fact, Facebook has been more reactive than proactive when addressing these concerns from users. Golijan (2012) reported that approximately 4.8 million users have used the website to say where they planned to go on a certain day, which serves as a potential tip-off for burglars. In addition, over 20.4 million included their birth date on their profile, which allows identity thieves to potentially gain access and steal personal information (www.nbcnews.com).
    The leadership lesson that I get from the Facebook phenomenon is the importance of being proactive, empathetic, and forward thinking with issues that concern the people you serve. Unfortunately, I have learned in my experience with the site that there is little concern to address security and privacy issues. Facebook supports the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, which allows them to share a user’s information with the government without judicial oversight (www.nbcnews.com). I have since left the site because of these concerns, but I can only imagine how easy it is for others to access information to see what you are doing, who you are doing it with, and when from the website. Users do have a responsibility to make every effort to protect their privacy and security on sites like Facebook. However, the site can also need responsible leadership in place to help emphasize the protection of their user’s information by making it one of their top priorities.

    Gbarnes05

    References
    Friedman, T.L. (2007). The world is flat: A brief history of the twenty-first century. New York, NY: Picador

    Golijan, R. (2012, May 3). Consumer reports: Facebook privacy problems are on the rise. Retrieved from http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/consumer-reports-facebook-privacy-problems-ar-rise-749990

    • Hi Gbarnes, Thank you for your comments! I really appreciate them! I did not even think about burglers monitoring facebook for when I am not home! Given you left Facebook over the concerns you outlined, are you participating in other social media such as LinkedIn or Twitter? If so, what makes them different from Facebook? Look forward to your thoughts! Regards, Swaggin94 aka Peter

  3. Hi Peter,
    Thank you for your blog and the information you provided on Facebook. I found it very beneficial seeing how others are so involved with Facebook and how they use the features. I am not an active member of Facebook, however, others who are on my network continue to share the events in their lives which has been a great way to stay in tune with friends and family. Since many people use Facebook for personal use, access to Facebook through our company is disabled. With all the business activities that we have going on, non of our executives are active on Facebook as I know. I use my free time to directly contact the people I want to stay in touch with and because of the difficulty of removing posted pictures from Facebook, I have not used this tool. Reading your blog and other members of our class, I am eager to explore the social networking much more than I have up to this point.
    Thanks Peter,
    Mo

    • Hi Mo, thanks for your response! I appreciate your thoughts! I am not sure if my company’s management team is on Facebook. However, our company does have an electronic policy which limits what employees can do on social media. In essence, the policy prohibits employees from communicating with our clients via social media. I think the policy is good; however, it can be awkward to tell your client that you do not want to be their friend on Facebook. Does your company have a similar policy? Regards, Peter

      • It would also be interesting to see if policies are changing. Many policies went in to effect without much understanding of social media. Reminds me of schools that banned cellphones when other schools were starting to take advantage of their kids arriving in class with powerful computers I their pockets.

      • Hi Dr. Watwood, Great point! My company has not changed our electronic policy since it was put in place approximately four years ago. With the way technology changes, organizations should update these policies once a year a minimal. Regards, Peter

      • Hi Peter,
        Yes, I believe it is the same. I don’t know too many professionals that use Facebook to conduct business. It is a great social networking for those who have sufficient free time though.
        Thanks,
        Mo

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