Keep Your Business Off Of Facebook

Facebook is so outrageously popular that many are tempted to use it for business, just like other consumerization trends. Resist the urge. Facebook will always be a poor choice for business functions.

The logic of BYOD is that if it works for me personally and I like it, why can't I use it at work? The numerous problems with such a philosophy can be mitigated in many cases, such as smart phones and tablets. But Facebook is a good case of an irredeemable product in business. It simply doesn't belong there.

Now that I've made an absolute statement, I'll give the obvious qualifier: Facebook is great for outbound marketing and connecting with customers. That may be it for legitimate business functions.

But there are obviously good reasons to bring social networking to business. That's why a large and diverse market of enterprise social networking products has developed. These products give administrators, managers, and users the control they need to make the connections they need and to keep company data confidential.

Not only does Facebook have a long history of iffy respect for privacy, but also of offering users minimal controls over their own data. In business terms, this means you lose control of your business functions. Can you trust Facebook? There's a good rule of thumb about Facebook: If you post something on it, assume anyone in the world can see it.

Personally, I think it's a bad idea, but InformationWeek has identified the Top 15 Facebook Apps For Business.

Microsoft SharePoint is not, in and of itself, a social networking product, but it has many social features and it is the platform on which many real social networks are built. Plus the upcoming SharePoint 15 will add many new social features. Like most enterprise social networking products, SharePoint can be bought as a cloud service or an on-premise solution.

Almost all enterprise social networking products offer a hosted solution, and you need good business reasons to justify running it on premise. There is a good mix of small, innovative companies like Yammer and large, established brands like IBM and Oracle.

Next month's Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston will have leading vendors and analysts in the field of enterprise social networking. And to learn more about enterprise social visit The Brainyard, which focuses on the subject.