Archive for the ‘Social Networking’ Category

Social Networks: Premium vs Freemium


Screenshot of shows a bare bones microblogging platform

So why does have an uphill battle to reach mass market? I’d argue that while niche premium social networks may emerge, however they’ll only serve a small market. The majority of the addressable mass market is already accustomed to advertising in other media channels, so being exposed to highly relevant ads in will be worth the . The other option, is to head the Wikipedia business model way, and depend on revenue injections from other parties, or raised funds on a donation based model as we see Jimmy Wales compelling ads requesting donations.

So why did I give my $50 commitment to despite the massive uphill challenges they’ll face? Well, for three reasons: 1) It’s my job as a research analyst to know the market which I cover 2) Selfishly, I wanted to secure my user name jowyang (just as I have on Twitter) and 3) I’m interested in seeing if crowd funding models can work –despite the concern over Kickstarter scams.

Matrix: Comparison of Premium vs Freemium Social Networks

Premium ( Freemium (Facebook, Twitter)
Business Model Users pay up front, in the case of, $50 for a year of service, site is funded by users Free tools available to any who agree to Terms of Service, such as Google+, Twitter, Facebook. Business model often includes marketing, advertising, donations.
Data Usage As paying customers, data is controlled and managed by users, developers, and owners. Users able to export data at any time via download feature. Terms of service often indicate the data can be used by social network and is owned by social network.
Governance Managed by website owners, not clear if customer council, app developers may have upfront info on API changes. Roadmap defined by social network, developers, brands, and users at mercy of changes, often without advance notice.
User Experience Advertising free experience, with focus on social and engagement features. Ad rich experience, including marketing and advertising directly in social stream. In the case of G+ it supports Search business model and remains ad free.
Market Type At this time, early adopters, first world technologists. May incline towards disposable income and influentials Mass market, global.

When it comes to social networks like Facebook and twitter, we should all remember that these are free global communication tools, and nothing comes without a price, including seeing marketed content. When it comes to new business models that are advertisement free, we should also remember, you either pay now, or pay later, to use these tools.

So users and developers of social networks (whether premium or freemium) should recognized you’ll pay now, or pay later, you always pay.

Update: Well that didn’t take long, here’s the parody site. There’s more discussion on my G+ feed on this.

Web Strategy Matrix: Google Buzz vs Facebook vs MySpace vs Twitter (Feb 2010)


Lack Of Signal In A Sea of Noise
There’s an incredible amount of media and blogger noise about social networks, yet most focus on “killer app” hype without an objective point of view.   My career mission?  To cut out the hype and help companies make sense of what to do. For those fraught with information overload, this definitive matrix distills what matters.

Situation:  New Contender Shakes Up Industry
Google has entered the social networking play with “Buzz”, and by the look of it, this time it’s for real.  There’s a lot of market confusion on how they could stack up, so here’s my take.  Let’s cut the noise and get to the heart of it with a comparison matrix based upon my insights talking to these companies in formal briefings, observations, as a user, my former research and dealing with the brands trying to reach them.

Executive Summary:  Brands Must Stay Focused On Where Customers Already Are
Google’s entrance causes media havoc but web strategists should stay focused.  Find out where customers already are through developing data around consumer behavior called socialgraphics.  Facebook continues to demonstrate a sophisticated marketplace for consumers and brands to mix about, however don’t discount MySpace’s active consumer base –but only if your customers are already there.  Continue to monitor Twitter and respond if customers are tweeting –but they’ve yet to indicate sophistication to help marketers, instead rely on third party tools and agencies to respond.  The feature set of newly spawned Google Buzz isn’t important, what matters is their ability to aggregate social content which will impact search strategy for businesses trying to reach consumers, read my first take analysis.

This scorecard has a limited shelf life, so I’ll likely create a new scorecard after future announcements from these players.

Web Strategy Matrix: Google Buzz vs Facebook vs MySpace vs Twitter (Feb 2010)

Google Buzz Facebook MySpace Twitter
One-Liner A dark horse that has big backing and access to existing platforms. A mainstay platform that needs to grow out of its shell. The MTV of this generation is at risk during an ugly transformation. Has opportunity to become utility-like infrastructure, but not a destination.
Vitals (see more stats) Estimated to sit on a user based of over 100mm active gmail users, they have access to the most popular webpage in the world,  Has access to mainstream users on and advanced email users on Gmail. Boasting over 400mm users in just a few short years, they’ve saturated Gen Y in US, and show global expansion at record rates. Recently reported at 57mm US unique users most of which are heavily engaged with site.  Has saturation of coveted youth, working class and small businesses within US. Although difficult to track, estimates indicate 75mm active users, but doubts are emerging about reduced rate of growth.  Usage by tech savvy, media, and celebs.
Strengths A large talent pool of engineers to pull from, Buzz stands on top of existing Gmail, mobile devices, and dominant search portal.  As Buzz grows, they can integrate with all Google apps –and aggregate the entire internet. Rapid US and international growth over last few years bodes well as quickly evolved feature set of platform and and FB Connect gain traction.  Attracts top talent from Google –which are quickly defecting. Big backing by a media giant, a super engaged audience, and rich history of reaching media starved young consumers. Has clinched adoption over media elite, celebrities, and tech influencers. Incredible media buzz, and easy-to-use features.
Weaknesses Late to the party, Google has had a series of social networking misfires from Wave, Dodgeball, Orkut their culture shows signs of becoming corporate –like Microsoft. Struggles with the conundrum of having promised users a ‘closed’ experience where to be successful requires them to be ‘open’. Historically poor track record in meeting privacy expectations of customers, and overall complex interface. Complacent: they really let themselves go. In the eyes of the tech world, they are becoming irrelevant or even worse, a niched media play –not even a lifestyle network.  This leaderless ship without a captain is undergoing radical internal turmoil and innovation has stalled. Although features are dead simple, they are now a commodity –status update features are ubiquitous. Mainstream users confused by how to get started. Overhyped, the infrastructure has shown strain.  Brands generally confused on how to interact.
Opportunity The more information users share, tag, or create, the more data is created on Google’s platform to organize, giving them opportunity to monetize. By integrating Facebook Connect everywhere, the service becomes ubiquitous, and therefore the default identity and default address book for consumer behavior. A few hours ago, the CEO Van Natta was let go. Now a new chief can step up, and lead the recently formed executive team, fostering innovation and solidarity. Must develop more features to increase the overall value of this utility of the this simple status messaging tool.
Threats Mainstay email companies like Microsoft, Yahoo, and AOL have already shown social features ‘bolted’ onto their email systems, and could pose threat, although success hasn’t been proven by any. Secondly, Facebook has made notions to develop an email web client “Project Titan” that will threaten tech savvy users competing for Gmail’s attention. Facebook is a conundrum as they must make experience open –yet this provides Google the opportunity to monetize as an intermediary. Social networks come and go, before MySpace was Friendster, they run the risk of becoming complacent, losing talent to Twitter and failing to innovate over the next few years. Self-implosion from internal instability causes stalls, forcing media brands to develop their own social networking on their own sites, rendering MySpace a duplicate. Worse yet? Cool kids jump ship, and establish a colony elsewhere, leaving MySpace a wasteland of clueless advertisers. Overhype from media leaves Twitter at risk for burn-out-syndrome like a Hollywood child star turned skid row.  Secondly, the more successful they are, the more strain it put on the already questionable infrastructure.
Marketing Platform Although not fully developed, expect advertising options to appear for brands who want to promote relevant ads wherever Buzz is located, especially on SERP pages Confusing and overly complicated, there are too many marketing options perplexing brands.  It’s not clear if brands should advertise, interact in pages, create widgets or do a combination of all. Strong and straight forward. Established team has cut deals with many media companies and has legacy culture of understanding media. Nascent. Although promises have been made for branded experiences, analytics, and other premium features, for most marketers it’s being treated like a chat room –not a marketing platform.
Future State Buzz will aggregate the voices of their users –and those of other social networks, aggregate and serve up monetization options. A communications platform for consumers and brands.  Expect Facebook experience to be in many public experiences and mobile devices. There are two paths: Integrate MySpace into TV and mobile devices or fade into pit of irrelevance like Friendster. Like gas, water, or power, Twitter is likely to fade into the background and become a utility that’s integrated into everything –someday, even your fridge will Tweet.
What They Don’t Want You To Know The collective already owns you –you just don’t know it yet. They’re trying so hard to shift from closed to open, and like a nasty divorce, it’s tearing them apart from users. Like an internal disease, the insiders are hurting, morale sunk, teams in disarray, yet they don’t want the public to know. Not sure what they want to be when they grow up.
What They Should Do Demonstrate success with Buzz, then quickly integrate into other tools like Search and Chrome. Kill off the confusing Wave, and consolidate teams and efforts.  Aggregate public content from Twitter and Facebook, intermediate them and monetize their own content. Get open now. Build a browser to quickly go transcend the web. Reward users to share more information in public like restaurant or media reviews in exchange for other values. Double down efforts on Project Titan email feature. Quickly establish a chain of command and execute based upon a single vision. Have regular talent turnover to avoid complacency. Develop a white label product that can compete with Cisco EOS, Kyte, Pluck, or Kickapps (Altimeter client). Develop a vision to become the dominant protocol over SMS, where teens and international cultures are already heavily texting. Continue to build out platform for developers to build on top of, becoming a data play, like a utility.

Everyone has a morning ritual, for me, I invest up to two hours reading, thinking, and blogging each morning. I hope this helps you cut through the noise –if it was helpful, please pass it on, email to colleagues, tweet it, and blog about it.

Social Search: Customers Influence Search Results Over Brands


This post was collaboratively written on a wiki by Charlene Li, (cross posted) who maintains a focus on Leadership Strategy and Jeremiah Owyang, who maintains a focus on Customer Strategy. Together, we’re covering the convergence of emerging technologies at the Altimeter Group.

Twitter brokers a deal that offers search engines Microsoft Bing and Google Search access to their real time data streams.  Also, Facebook, offers up public status updates to be searched and served up to Microsoft’s Bing.  This trend towards micro media requires companies to pay attention to the real time and social web for marketing, support, and competitive strategies.  There are several impacts to the ecosystem, here’s what you should know:

  • Deal Fills In Technology and Relationship Gaps for Twitter. Twitter lacks the computing power of a premiere search engine, as their current Twitter search results are littered with spam, duplicate tweets, and are only sorted by time.   Leveraging the sophisticated engineers at Microsoft and Google affords Twitter an opportunity to focus on their platform –not search.  From a business aspect, this deal makes sense is that Microsoft and Google both have relationships with advertisers and brands, with trained sales forces to cut deals. Although the terms of the deal aren’t public, it’s suspect there was an exchange of material goods, it’s likely that Twitter will benefit from revenue share in the near future.
  • Social Search to Serve Results Based On Time, Authority. Expect real time data to merge with existing search engines, as a result we should see Google Search and Bing to serve up search results based on: 1) Real time information based on what Twitter users are saying, including memes from trending topics, 2) Preference given to links and URLs that are tweeted by users with more followers or authority, 3) Geo location of tweets to influence search results.  As users seek “Thai Restaurants in San Mateo” location based tweets could provide additional context.  4) Eventually results will be served up by your friends.  Google has given a nod to serve up information based on your social graph (your friends) using Google Profile.
  • To Compete, Facebook Must Make More Content Public. For closed social networks like Facebook, this means they need to continue to offer up more data that can be searched in public by search engines.  With default settings in Facebook set to ‘friends only’ this will continue to be a challenge as Facebook’s community prefers the filters and privacy settings that this closed social network provides.
  • Twitter’s Future: Seamless Integration with the Web. Success for Twitter isn’t about becoming a destination site, but instead about becoming a data protocol that’s embedded everywhere.    Like “Air“, microblogging features are already present in multiple applications, desktop and mobile clients, and the bite-sized information is becoming available in context wherever it’s needed.
  • Customers Influence Search Results An even more amazing impact of these announcements is that for the first time, consumers will be able to directly impact web search results. Although companies spend thousands of marketing dollars controlling their search results by using Google’s advertising services, customers and competitors can quickly and cheaply impact search results using simple tools like Twitter.  Consumers, empowered using mobile devices as a publishing platform can link to content and influence search results. Now, a simple tweet with a picture of a plane landing on the Hudson from a mobile phone will show up at the top of search results.

Key Takeaways: Customers Impact Brand Search Results Using Twitter
Even if your company is not active on Twitter, your customers can influence the search results related to your company –you must pay attention to this trend.  Just as your company likely already has a search strategy through search optimization or paid search terms, you’ll need to extend micromedia to your strategy.  In order to be prepared for this change, companies must:

  1. Develop a Listening Strategy That Starts With Roles and Process.  Every business and market is now moving faster and faster as information spreads around the globe in minutes –if not seconds.  Companies must be ready to quickly identify flare ups, be ready to respond, and correct incorrect information.  Develop a listening strategy that has internal roles set in place, a process to respond and the right tools like Radian 6, Visible Technologies, BuzzMetrics, or Cymfony.
  2. Change The Marketing Mindset –Legacy Methods Ineffective. Search marketers must understand that blasting marketing information through Facebook or Twitter won’t be effective, as search engines will filter out irrelevant messages that nobody listens to. Instead, marketers should allow content on all web properties and email marketing to be easily added to Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites by offering icons that encourage people to share. Providers like ShareThis and AddThis make this simple to do.
  3. Develop Influence Marketing Programs. Since these search engines have all noted that they will rank real time information on a person’s authority and not just traditional page ranking, marketers must double down on building these relationships.  More than ever, brands will need to foster discussions within Twitter as retweet, replies, and linking behavior will influence what is served up on results pages.  It takes time to build real relationships that develop into public conversations so get started now.

Related Links:
For a list of social networking stats (including Twitter) we’ve a 2009 collection we keep up to date.

Revealing Google’s Stealth Social Network Play


This post was collaboratively written on a wiki by Charlene Li, (who’s cross-posted) who maintains a focus on Leadership Strategy and Jeremiah Owyang, who maintains a focus on Customer Strategy. Together, we’re covering the convergence of emerging technologies at the Altimeter Group.

Google has quietly been launching a social network right under our own chins. No, it’s not about Google extending Orkut, a social networking platform they developed a few years ago, or growing Google groups, or even launching their own version of a Twitter. Instead they’ve been releasing small bits of social networking features, little by little. Previously, we’ve made the case that email is already the largest social network, however Google’s plans go beyond Gmail. First, let’s define what to look for, in order to identify what Google is concocting.

Defining Social Networks
To start with, we define a social network as having three baseline components: 1) A profile that contains a person’s information; 2) The ability for people to connect to each other via those profiles, often called a social graph; and 3) the ability to do something useful or valuable they couldn’t have done otherwise. Features such as discoverability or public access are often cited as social network features, but we believe that the common denominators across most social networks are the three characteristics we listed.

Now that we agree on the definition, we can see that Google is launching each of these features with little fanfare. Let’s break down what’s happening. Google allows people to:

Maintain a Rich Profile. Google recently launched new features called Google profiles which allows users to upload profile pics, include personal information and preferences, and allow it to be discoverable on the web. These are coupled with a Google account such as gmail, and is at the core of these efforts.

Connect and Communicate With Others. Individuals using the Google profiles can connect to each other and share information using a variety of tools, not all of them necessarily social. For example, Gmail and Google Talk contain not just your contacts, but also understand with whom you communicate the most. Google doesn’t explicitly ask if you’re a ‘friend’ or ‘fan’ of someone, but rather, allows people to connect to each other in a variety of communication tools. And most recently, Google launched Google Sidewiki, which allows anyone to add comments to any page on the Web with just a Firefox plug-in.

Centralize Information In A Useful Way. Allowing people to build profiles and communicate with each other isn’t of much value unless it can provide a more useful experience not previously available. Google provides a number of tools like Google Wave, a collaboration tool we’ve started to experiment with, Gtalk instant messanger, and Gmail which rivals Facebook’s newsfeed, chat, and inbox respectively.

Google’s Stealth Threat
The difference between Google and destination social networks like MySpace, Friendster, and Facebook is that Google doesn’t have a specific URL. Instead, it is creating elements that envelope the web, by enabling every online (and mobile) activity to possibly be social one –then running it all on their own centralized platform. Google isn’t going after a frontal, brute force assault on Facebook and the other social networks — it simply can’t win at that game on a global basis. Instead Google is pursuing a softer approach, a zen-like attach much like water flowing around a rock. It is using its strengths — ubiquity and open platforms — to put “social” into every corner of the Web.

This is the stealth threat — that today’s social networks won’t really be losing share to the “Google network”, but rather, that they will become slowly less relevant as EVERYTHING gets social thanks to advances by Google. Their end goal? Google’s social network is designed to exist everywhere –not be centralized in any one location. By the way, two can play at this game and we see Microsoft making similar moves in the future. (Edit: It was pointed out to Charlene that Yahoo! is also making similar moves with its social APIs).

Key Takeaways

  1. Enveloping The Social Web Is Core To Google’s Strategy. This is inline with Google’s traditional strategy of organizing the world’s information –then serving up monetization options around it. Although a few years late to the game, Google’s move is crucial as they already have large amounts of information about what you look for, who you know, and the activities you do. It’s a natural step for them to also organize and make sense of the social and behavioral information that people create. In addition, Google — who already has long term relationships with agencies, brands, and marketers — will be a natural place for companies to look to for advertising and marketing opportunities around social data, rather than new players and start-ups.
  2. Google’s Recent Moves Threaten Incumbent Social Networks. Facebook and other competitors will need to quickly spread it’s Facebook Connect platform and evolve it to something that doesn’t even require APIs or registrations. The challenge with Facebook Connect is it requires the website owner (publisher) and the user to opt-in and allow for content to become social. With Google’s SideWiki, only the users need to opt-in, which will cause adoption to spread must faster. Facebook will need to extend it’s inline browser (surfing the web within the context of or developing their own browser to counter Google’s moves. Facebook’s core conundrum is balancing personal and often private information of its community with the need to expose information in public in order to be relevant in search and eventually advertising.
  3. Despite Privacy Concerns, Users Will Continue To Use Google. Although privacy concerns will continue to be the mainstay of objections, the benefits to the common user will outweigh any critics. We know that people will verbally object to their privacy being an opportunity for another company, yet they continue to behave in a way opposite to their objections. Why? For most, they’ve grown to trust players like Google. Or they are willing to give up control of some information in exchange for convenience, such as having social data conveniently show up on Google Maps on your phone. And for others, the price of privacy can be measured by what information they will give up to get ‘free shipping’. The root concern isn’t broadly about privacy, but specifically about privacy in the context of when you’re not in control of it. Google is highly motivated to maintain the trust of users and will do everything possible to continue earning and deserving that trust.

We’re not the only ones to notice this trend, Search Engine Watch also characterizes Google as a social media company. We hope our viewpoint sheds light to where Google is heading, and hope to hear your viewpoints too.

Interlaced: Email and Social Networks


Despite Having 300 Million Members, Facebook is Not The Largest Social Network
In my opinion, online social networks have three distinguishing features:  1) They have profiles that enable people to express their identity 2) Ability for people to connect to these profiles 3) To be successful, there’s a greater value created by a group of people sharing than as individuals who do not.

This week, Facebook announced it has ballooned to 300 million users, far more than MySpace and certainly Twitter.  Yet, I want to assert that Facebook isn’t the largest social network, email is (we’ve talked about this before).  Recent numbers from Microsoft showed that the number of active users (although the definition of ‘active’ isn’t explained) exceeds 375 million users for Hotmail.

When you combine all of the email networks from Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo, and the millions in Outlook at corporations all over the world –it dominates over Facebook.

Not Everyone Agrees Email and Social Networks Are The Same
I took the conversation to my own community in Twitter, and while the majority seemed to agree others respectfully suggested that “email is not a social network because:”  1) It’s private, not public, 2) Lack of profiles, and  3) Lack of discoverability of people. I’d like to quickly address why I stand by that email is the largest social network:

Social networks can be private.  Just like in real life, some communities are not for the public.  In fact, Facebook is a closed social network, very little of your personal information can be seen by the public.  Secondly, some of the most successful social networks are deployed inside of companies, just ask folks like Telligent, Mzinga, Awareness, and Jive.

Email does indeed have profiles. Many argued that email doesn’t have a profile, yet, consumer email clients all offer profiles.  For example, see Yahoo’s, Microsoft Live, (which can spur from a hotmail account) and the Google profile.  We’re encouraged to put our handle, name, location, and other demographic information.  The second place to look is within the signature of each email you receive, people put their name, company, title, contact information and whatever else they want to self-express.  In both cases people opt-in to put that information in, and make their profile information accessible to those they want to share it with.

Email profiles are discoverable and social. Some who don’t believe email is a social network will argue that the profiles are not easy to find.  A social networks will help like-minded users find each other, and some social networks even recommend others to follow. Take another look corporations that have deployed exchange server have a large directory with individual names, profiles, and groups that they belong to.  You can search for titles, locations, and groups to find who in a company may have similar needs to you.  What about in the consumer space? Yahoo encourages it’s mail users to ask and answer questions from each other –even if you don’t know them directly.  In fact, in my Yahoo profile, there’s an area that suggests people I should connect with, one which is Shel Israel, who is certainly a friend, and Microsoft Live recommends people “like you” to connect with.

Agree or Disagree, Email and Social Networks Intertwine
A few more indicators that email and social networks are starting to merge: For public social networks like Facebook, Glassdoor, Yelp, and Twitter, email is a pre-requistite to register.  Messages that you receive in Facebook or Twitter, often end up in your email stream.  Email portals are already developing social features around them, have you seen the Yahoo homepage?  It’s starting to look like a social network.

Recommendations: Approach Email and Social Tech in an Integrated Strategy
It’s too easy to focus on the shiny microblogging tools and cast incumbent technologies by the side.  Savvy communicators should factor in how email and social networks fuel each other, they should:

  • Interlace email and social efforts. In your marketing efforts, make it easy for people to share content both on social sites and through email.  Use the sharethis feature on your websites encouraging people to post content on social networks –or email to each other.  In your email marketing, make it easy for people to also share the information on their social networking profiles.
  • Prepare for applications to be build on email platforms. Recognize that email portals are becoming social platforms, and brands will soon build or sponsor applications that interact with Yahoo Mail, Microsoft Live, and whatever comes next.
  • Focus on the relationships between individuals –less on the medium.  The medium isn’t as important as the relationships between the people.  When Twitter goes down, some shift to Friendfeed, or Facebook to communicate, people have a way to find each other regardless of the medium or channel.

I hope this triggers an interesting discussion, even if you don’t agree. Would love to hear a global perspective on mobile usage, how does that factor in?

Update: On a related note,this study indicates that email usage is being eroded away by social networking sites and instant messaging. This is the type of data that will send email providers scurrying to the product roadmap to quickly integrate into the social web as quickly as possible.

Help! My Boss Wants To Be My Friend On Facebook


Help! My boss wants to be my my friend on Facebook” was exactly the text message I received from someone close to me early last week.

Career Limiting Move or A Platform To Build A Great Relationship?
This young member of the Gen Y generation recently joined the workforce –and was experiencing the pain as personal and professional lives collide.  While some may laugh at the notion, first understand that Generation Y may share their most intimate of details on Facebook, from what they love and hate, who they love and hate, photos from last Saturday night to where they’re going tonight –it’s more of an online diary.

Don’t scoff at this situation, on this Web Strategy Blog we discuss how corporations can benefit from new technologies (like social) and know that employees will use them –often in the context of the workplace, this is just one instance of a particularly real issue.  What’s at stake?  Building a long term relationship with your boss –or sending the right or wrong message about your ability to be a worker (update: like this one link via William).   We were successfully able to wade through the situation, but first, let’s list out all the options available to you when this situation happens:

Contingency Planning: So Your Boss Wants To Friend You On Facebook

1) Do nothing.  Simply ignore the request and hope it goes away, it sends a message: one of inability to communicate or not follow through.

2) Deny them.  Suggest this isn’t how you want to communicate with them, with a message like “Sorry but Facebook is just for my family and friends” and risk alienating a relationship you could grow.

3) Add them and expose them to your entire life.  Adding one’s boss may be easy as a single click, but exposing them to their steamy private life could be detrimental to one’s career.

4) Redirect to LinkedIn. Suggesting that you want to keep professional relationships professional and they go in LinkedIn is a fine idea.  But snubbing them could be a career limiting move saying you don’t want to be in an engaging relationship –or worse yet: you’ve something to hide.

5) Use Facebook permission features and filter.  Although clunky and hard to figure out for most, users of Facebook can create groups (like one for colleagues) and allow them to only see certain types of information.

What Did We Do? Our Solution: The best course of action was number 5.  I had this individual create a separate group for work, and tag it the name of their company.  They then filtered what information that could be seen, of course, only professional related content void of those party pics from last week.   For the test they added me to this group and I confirmed it was only a limited view.  This individual then granted admission to their curious boss to Facebook –preserving the relationship.   In addition, I encouraged the individual to send a LinkedIn request –nothing like granting one’s request –and offering to grow it in yet another area.

What You Should Do: While it’s going to take time to setup, invest your time wisely and use Facebook’s group features from the start.  Everyone you add should be segmented into the right bucket so you can easily control who sees what of your life.  Also, set some guidelines of comfort where the line is for you, for some, putting colleagues into LinkedIn is the only place that it’s appropriate as Facebook could be for work alone.  See how to create and manage groups, manage privacy, and other advanced privacy features.

You A Boss?  First, Think It Through. A manager should first be sensitive to the relationship they have with their subordinates, you’re in a position of power.  Really gauge if your relationship is that of a friend, mentor, or just work related.   You may want to leave the offer open to your subordinates –and let them add as their prerogative, rather than forcing them into a potentially awkward situation.  If you do feel your relationship is on strong ground, send them a LinkedIn request first, and see if they reciprocate into Facebook.  Lastly, be sure to see if your content doesn’t embarrass you in front of your own team –use the filtering features yourself.

Social and Professional Lives Continue To Collide. Social networks technologies are pervasive, they’re creeping into our personal and professional lives.  The challenge is finding the separation –and defining the overlap between both.  Love to hear your stories of where social tools cross the employee and friend relationships.