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Social Collaboration: More Than Cloning Facebook

Many social collaboration advocates are wary of the easy and obvious comparison to Facebook, which has positive but also some negative connotations. To describe a corporate collaborative application "as engaging and easy to use as Facebook" is a good thing in terms of getting people to use it. On the other hand, do companies really want employees posting the same sort of things on a corporate system that they would post on Facebook? No way.

By definition, an enterprise social network has different aims than a public social network or any consumer website. For example, Facebook says its mission is "to make the world more open and connected" (even though critics often charge that its mission is to get people to share even more than they realize they're sharing). In contrast, corporate network managers may be very concerned about making sure that sharing is carefully controlled and that proprietary information won't leak outside the company. These confidentiality concerns also apply to smaller businesses.

Of course, social collaboration tools have indeed been heavily influenced by the design and functionality of public social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, often with elements of Wikipedia, YouTube, and other popular consumer websites mixed in. Many basic social collaboration functions for posting, sharing, tagging, Liking, and commenting on content are judged at least partly on how well they mirror those functions on the consumer sites.

If you're the person trying to sell social collaboration to the boss, arguing that it will be "just like Facebook inside our company" could be counter-productive, given that Facebook is associated with frivolity. So, if you find comparisons to Facebook troublesome, you might work LinkedIn into the conversation, given its reputation as the site for professional social networking. (You won't see a lot of beer bash photos or tasteless jokes posted on LinkedIn.)

The social collaboration system inside your business should have a similar professional focus. People use LinkedIn to burnish their professional reputations and find their next jobs. Employees use social collaboration to build professional connections at work and do their current jobs better.

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