Myspace, once a social media giant, was recently sold for only $35 million. Google just launched its Google+ project in an effort to compete with Facebook, and so far, according to the L.A. Times, the most popular person on Google+ may be Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg! And in the meantime, the New York Times is reporting that more and more companies are turning to their own internal social networking sites. All this change can be hard to keep track of, but it certainly is fascinating.
According to the Wall Street Journal (News Corp. Sells Myspace for a Song), Myspace was sold to “a little-known ad-targeting firm” for $35 million in cash and stock, which is “a major comedown for a property that was acquired for $580 million just six years ago.” The company, Specific Media LLC, is apparently going to team up with Justin Timberlake to “‘rebuild and reinvigorate’” the site “by making it a place to consume media and connect with entertainers.” We will see whether they are successful in their efforts, as that is “a strategy several rounds of Myspace managers have pursued unsuccessfully for years.” We will also see what impact, if any, this has on the workplace.
Where one social media site fades away, another is born. Google+ is attempting to compete with Facebook by capitalizing on many Facebook users’ complaints that they don’t necessarily want to share everything with everyone. While Facebook does allow people to create groups, it is not the most user friendly process. Google+, in contrast, claims that it is focused on sharing information with groups, not with everyone.
As Bradley Horowitz, a vice president for product management at Google explained to the New York Times, “In real life, we have walls and windows and I can speak to you knowing who’s in the room, but in the online world, you get to a ‘Share’ box and you share with the whole world. … We have a different model.” (Another Try by Google to Take on Facebook)
Whether this model will catch on is unclear—especially given the enormous popularity of Facebook and Google+’s relatively late entry to the social networking scene. However, the ability to more easily control with whom you share your information may be tempting for a lot of social media users. This may have a very positive impact on job seekers, employees and others who prefer not to share certain information with everyone (i.e. certain weekend activities or rants about an employee’s supervisor). It may also be a good thing for employers who are now inundated with petty complaints and “water cooler” discussions that prior to social media they may never have known about.
What is also apparently tempting, at least for corporations, is the idea of internal social networking sites. (Companies Are Erecting In-House Social Networks). According to the New York Times, increasing numbers of companies, “from tiny start-ups to midsize companies like Nikon [Industries] to behemoths like Dell” are turning to internal social networking sites. Many companies see internal sites as a way to capitalize on the benefits of social media while doing so in an environment where the company can (at least to some extent) manage and control the culture and tone of the site (i.e., no drunken photos or other displays of questionable judgment). As John G. Bivona, a customer relations manager at Nikon Instruments put it, “if you don’t want your company president to see it, don’t post it.”
Nevertheless, “it can be tricky to transport the mores and practices of social networking into the office.” Issues arise relating to security, disclosure of confidential information, and, of course, missteps in etiquette (like an employee at Symantec, the computer security company, who apparently posted his cat’s photo in his profile instead of his own—very professional).
What does all of this signal? That the social media landscape continues to shift and evolve. Trends change, tastes change, and what people do in their private lives seems to inevitably spill over into their professional lives. What’s your new favorite social media trend?