Facebook Revisited

Posted by Charlie on 10 August, 2011

Level – Intermediate +

¬†As Facebook launches its new business site, Google rolls out its own social networking site: Google Plus The e-lesson on Facebook (May 2008) stated that the world’s biggest social networking site had over 70 million users. Today, that figure is a staggering 750 million. For many, social networking is an important part of their life. What about social networking in the business world?

Last week, I was invited to join Google Plus. As I am already on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, I was sceptical about joining yet another social networking site. I investigated, and was quite impressed, especially with ‘Circles’ (a way of putting people into different mini-networks and sharing information just with them) and ‘Hangouts’ (the video conference facility).

The test site, launched at the end of June, has attracted 20 million users, including many entrepreneurs. Google has admitted to having underestimated the strength of interest shown by companies, and plans to provide a full business service soon.

It’s an interesting moment, then, for Facebook to launch its new business site, Facebook for Business. This site provides guidance on how businesses can benefit from Facebook, including placing adverts (of course!).

So, can social networks help businesses? There are certainly some functions that can be exploited. Social networking sites could enable companies to post targeted adverts, based on user profiles. The ‘Like’ button (or equivalent) could be great for ‘word of mouth’ advertising. Indeed, some international companies are collaborating on projects using such sites.

However, social networking also has its critics. Over half of the companies in the UK have banned employees from using Facebook at work, and a recent scientific report claims Facebook and Twitter are encouraging a new generation of people with shorter attention spans and poorer face-to-face communication skills.

Oh dear; now I’m not sure whether to join Google Plus or not!

Areas you may wish to explore with your business English students are:

  • Which social networks do you belong to?
  • Do you agree that social networking can negatively affect real-life communication?
  • Should companies restrict Facebook at work?
  • Can ‘social networking’ benefit your own company? How?

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