Unsocial Media and What it Means

January 2, 2013 7:18 pm Published by Bill Boorman

There’s a trend that is becoming apparent with the social media channels that has implications for social recruiting channels. Because the channels play such a big part in our lives, its easy to think that they have been around forever, but this is of course not the case. The first social network Six Degrees was launched in 1997, LinkedIn in 2003, and Facebook and Twitter did not appear on our screens until 2006. it’s hard to think of a world without Facebook, but then the channel has been around no more than seven years. We are only just beginning to learn how the channels grow, and how each stage of growth changes the dynamic each time a landmark number of users are reached. Only now are we beginning to learn what it means to be a user of a free service, and what our thinking and planning should be with regards how we integrate them into recruiting.

The big internet uproar last month has been over Instagram, the photo sharing site that achieved phenomenal growth, before being acquired by Facebook for a reported $1billion. The free application announced that they reserved the right to sell your pictures. That really caused the Twitter stream to light up. This reminded me of a comment analyst Naomi Bloom made at #HRTechEurope, when the product or service you use is free, you become the product. Channels are not charities, and the trade off we make for using them for recreation and business is that the channels own our content according to their terms of service. This usually materializes in the form of data, where the channels track our online behaviour and interests in order to enable advertisers to reach us with products or services we might buy. It is tailored advertising and messaging that works because we are willing to trade our data for access to the services our “free” accounts afford us.

The best way to get around this is to understand that you get what you pay for, which means looking closer at paid-for apps in free channels. These give you the free channels to attract people, and paid-for apps that give you a greater degree of ownership over the content and data.

The other notable thing over the last few months is how the channels are separating out in terms of the ease with which you can post from one channel to another. The fallout between Instagram and Twitter, and Twitter and LinkedIn is a good example of this. At the start of a channel, they all play nicely because the new channels need the giants to get users engaged. The best way to do this is to make cross-posting easy, and to enable users to use the new channel easily. Think how easy it was to tweet your Instagram images, and how popular this was before Instagram decided otherwise. The reasoning behind this is quite simple. Each channel wants to keep you in their web place, because when you are there, they have access to you, and when you are gone, they don’t. I’m happy to pay that price for the benefits social media brings me, personal and professional. We all get the benefit, and the implications are quite small.

Going into 2013 there is a lot to learn from 2012, not least from these latest events. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn are not the bad guys in this. They bring us access and the opportunity to connect in ways we could never have dreamed of only a few years ago. Nothing is free, there is a price to pay. What you should be taking away from this year is that you need a separate channel-by-channel presence, and that increasingly your networks in the separate channels are going to be different. Different communities in different places, and your apps need to be paid-for to give you greater control and ownership.

Just my thoughts, have a great 2013,

Bill

This post was written by Bill Boorman