Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Oblivious to Some Social Networks

A colleague's son recently graduated from college and is looking for a job. The son suggested that his father recommend him on LinkedIn, but my colleague thought a recommendation from a father might not be the best idea.

That's when my colleague's father turned to my 13-year-old daughter, who knows the son, and suggested that she recommend him on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com). My daughter replied: "What's LinkedIn?"

I was surprised at my daughter's response. As an early user of LinkedIn for business, I thought everyone used LinkedIn.

Upon further reflection, my daughter has no use for LinkedIn. It's primarily a business tool for people to connect people to other people. And my daughter is in the eighth grade.

For my daughter, her social media life is taken up with two main social media sites: Facebook (www.facebook.com) and Tumblr (www.tumblr.com). Her main use of the sites is that her friends are there and that's how they communicate with each other.

Her email account remains essentially unused. More than 90 percent of her digital communications with her friends is done through texting, Facebook and Tumblr.

The current most successful social media/social networking site is Facebook. With its expected $100 billion IPO coming up, it is clearly a social and financial success — especially for those with pre-IPO shares of stock.

As I started to think about the other social media sites that are out there, I recall a few that were huge (relatively speaking) just a few years ago, but have clearly languished in comparison to the big boys.
Remember Second Life (www.secondlife.com)? It was a site where people could create an avatar (a digital image to be themselves — or a person they wanted to pretend to be — in a fictional, digital world). Some companies opened up stores in Second Life. At least one country talked about opening up an embassy or consulate in Second Life.

How about MySpace (www.myspace.com)? That has become the place for bands and performers to publish their music and performances.

What I find interesting is how both Second Life and MySpace were once the "gotta go to" places that controlled significant heft, they are no longer quite as compelling, especially for the masses.
While Facebook will continue to dominate the social media space for a few years, one thing I've learned is that in technology, nothing is unchangeable. Not only do the people and products change, but the companies behind them change. I just wish I knew what the next step would be. And I look forward to showing my daughter LinkedIn. Maybe even making her first recommendation.

Mark Mathias, a 30-plus year veteran of information technology and a resident of Westport, Connecticut, was named by Computerworld magazine to their inaugural list of “Premier 100 IT Leaders.” This column was originally published in the Westport News on Wednesday 8 February 2012.

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