Can Facebook's BranchOut Bridge the Business/Consumer Divide?

Chris Measures
Chris Measures Director, Measures Consulting

Posted on January 21st 2011

Image representing BranchOut as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase

When it comes to social media most people are schizophrenic – using specific tools for business and personal life. Generally this means your contacts on Facebook are different from those you interact with more formally on LinkedIn. Twitter can be either (dependent on the person) while blogs tend to be either ‘What I do in my spare time’ or ‘Why I know what I’m talking about in my field of experience’ (hopefully Revolutionary Measures fits into the second category).

But as part of its plan for world domination Facebook is looking to change this, with the launch of BranchOut. Essentially it builds a LinkedIn-style network on top of your Facebook friends, using the power of your contacts to find and match you with job opportunities. It is simple to import your LinkedIn profile so you can be up and running quickly, but here are five reasons I don’t think it will work:

1          People

Your Facebook friends tend to be just that – mates, mates of mates or people from down the pub. Do any of them have access to the jobs you are looking for – and after seeing you down the pub, would they employ you?

2          Language

I may be forty something and out of date but how I talk to my friends and business contacts is different. Even if someone spans both groups you change your approach and language dependent on context. Hence using different networks for each group makes sense.

3          More spam

Due to the opt-in nature of BranchOut you need to request your friends to join your network – which could well be seen as more spam from people you only vaguely know – and then not in a business context.

4          No interactivity

LinkedIn worked hard to move away from being a static CV database, introducing news, company listings and relevant groups you could join. At the moment BranchOut seems to be early LinkedIn – you sign up and then not a lot happens.

5          Flavour of the month

There’s a tremendous number of apps, widgets and games available for Facebook with more being launched all the time. Evolution dictates that lots of these wither and die, while others retreat to their niches. BranchOut is the current new great thing, but after the initial euphoria has waned, will users still sign up?

Time will tell, but my bet’s on BranchOut not having enough to dislodge LinkedIn from its top spot – even with the backing of the world’s biggest website.

Chris Measures

Chris Measures

Director, Measures Consulting

I've spent 15 years working in PR and believe that marketing is undergoing a revolution. The advent of social media provides the opportunity for one-to-one communication for the first time since the move to an industrial society. My blog gives my thoughts on the market and the journey we are going on.
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This should be pretty obvious for anyone who has used BranchOut or looked at its website - it's not a Facebook product. It's an app produced by a third party company. If you look at their own fan page, it states that pretty clearly. So calling it 'Facebook's BranchOut' is basically wrong. 

With regard to bridging the business/consumer divide - BranchOut is just really annoying. It spams your followers and is already being blocked or ignored by most people I know. If I want to do some work-related networking, I'll always use LinkedIn. Facebook is a place for my friends and not the kind of place I want to go looking for work.