Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan press release trophies Chicago Bulls NBA Championship

Don’t Branch Out on Facebook

It’s where relationships die and drama is spewed. High schoolers use it to cyber bully. It also functions as an ad platform where you can be targeted as a consumer based on minutiae of personal details you give away in your profile. It’s not the place you want your resume or job hunting efforts anywhere near.

Facebook Branch Out Career Networking on Facebook green logo I first heard about Facebook Branch Out on my friend Melody’s Facebook wall. Her friend Rachel had invited Melody to Branch Out. My split second valence reaction: Gross.

Caveat: I am a LinkedIn purist.

Odd: I typically encourage competition (heralding Google +1 for simply existing)

Reasoning: Branch Out challenging LinkedIn is like community college Division 3 athletics taking on the 1990s Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls. Here’s the Wall conversation:

Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan high five on the court Chicago Bulls 1997
These are professionals.

Rachel: Its a professional networking site (so like LinkedIn), only its on the FB interface, which obviously reaches more people – that, of course, is its advantage. It is just getting off the ground so I haven’t played around with it that much, but feel like it is likely to replace LinkedIn in this area for the reason mentioned above (also because I think it will have better functionality bc the FB ppl are better at social media..). Hope all is well!

Melody: Em’s a social media person–thoughts @Emily Binder? My hesitation is that I’m not sure I like the idea of mixing fbook with business. I guess I’m at the cusp of needing to make all my sm profiles 100% work proof. Deleted my personal twitter yesterday after a social etiquette seminar….

Emily Binder: Where to begin… Facebook is not LinkedIn and never will be. (By the way, I’m not a guru.) Unless your personal brand is a page, not a profile, you are not on Facebook to represent yourself to the business world. If this is the main reason you’re on social networks, then just hang out on LinkedIn. LinkedIn reaches 100 million+ members with targeted interests. Sure, Facebook reaches more, but for professional networking and exposure, you don’t want to reach the majority of them, trust me.

The big three social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) are three for a reason: Each is different in uses, users, purposes, and presentation. How many articles and horror stories have we heard about employers running background checks on job applicants using Facebook? Remember the Massachusettes teacher who got fired in 2010 for a Facebook post complaining about the snobby parents? Did you know that  the U.S. Federal Trade Commission recently granted permission to Social Intelligence Corporation to file all user Facebook posts for job applicant screening.

Facebook for jobs is only one step above Craigslist. I’d wonder why the Brancher doesn’t use LinkedIn- can’t they hack it? There isn’t enough control over your own Facebook presence (just read the incredibly long privacy policy) to be a place that can accomplish two purposes. Its actual purpose is to provide an informal social platform to share thoughts, pictures, news, events, opinions, and, when you feel like it, utter time-wasting garbage.

Professional networking and the domain where resumes, bosses, and colleagues live does not belong on the social network where pictures of you doing keg stands in college could be unearthed.

Melody: Valid points, Em. Rachel, you do SM, right? Rebuttal?

Rachel: No I don’t care that much to be honest.


You’ll notice that the Branch Out advocate above didn’t really understand it, didn’t care to comment on it, and is thus probably the type of person willing to throw their information to the next trendy network. Social media has imbued us with the value of quantity over quality; and that omnipresence is good.

24 thoughts on “Don’t Branch Out on Facebook”

  1. Emily, I am a LinkedIn purist, like you. FB is not an environment conducive to business. Retail, luxury brands… YES, you a presence on Facebook. B2B, not so much.

    1. I agree. Just because you interact with a brand as a consumer on Facebook, that doesn’t mean you should interact with a brand or company as a job candidate. We do so much that isn’t related to business or our professional personas on Facebook. That’s the beauty of privacy settings. I wouldn’t want my personal conversations and wall posts and photos anywhere near a professional network because it’s just too informal.

  2. I am having trouble finding anybody who is not on Facebook for the same reason as myself.  I just don’t care what everybody else is doing.  I don’t want to hear about it.  It’s not about privacy for me, I wouldn’t write anything anyway.

  3. Interesting statement: “You’ll notice that the Branch Out advocate above didn’t really understand it, didn’t care to comment on it, and is thus probably the type of person willing to throw their information to the next trendy network.”  It’s a little dangerous to extrapolate from a sample size of one, but you are probably right.  

    Btw Branch Out has tried to use the LinkedIn API but got shut down by LinkedIn (ironically, at exactly the same time as your post) for TOS violations: In a previous version of this comment I stated that LinkedIn was very careful about to whom they gave access to their data, but that appears to not be as true anymore as it once was, since the TechCrunch article says LinkedIn has 20,000 developers using its API. Still, they are certainly more privacy sensitive than Facebook, based on their focus on being the business face of social networking.

  4. I’m all in Emily’s court on this one.  I think the person who will mix professional networking with Facebook is probably the same person who is Facebook friends with people they may not even know.  The carelessness will catch up to its user at some point.

    1. MaKenzie, great point: Consider that amassing as many Facebook friends as possible was the M.O. for most users who started in 2005-2006 back when a .edu email address was required for an account. Facebook was exactly as portrayed in The Social Network: a social guide to your college peers, voyeuristic but natural. This beginning attitude applies to at least some portion of the current 22-30 year-old group. Those who had Facebook during college understand my point.

      So flip the switch, put professional networking in that arena, and tell me what to do with the 900 friends I don’t really know but may not want to unfriend.

    2. ” The carelessness will catch up to its user at some point.” What exactly does that mean? Are you suggesting people that have friends on facebook that they don’t know or even interact with are at some risk? Isn’t that assuming a lot? For example that the FB user is spilling out private information that could lead to burglary, getting fired, or not hired? If that’s the case I would like to mention I have met more crazy, maladapted people that have negatively impacted me from church than I have just from having strangers on Facebook.

      1. I will say people who have Facebook friends they don’t know are 100% certainly at risk. With the amount of information people share on Facebook, sharing that with strangers, potential criminals and social engineers is way too risky.

        1. I agree, I never friend anyone on Facebook that I have not met in person at some point in my life (except for a couple of relatives that I wanted to get to know).

  5. Hey Emily, you make very valid points!  But for someone who doesn’t join BranchOut because they don’t want to mix business with drunken-photos-from-last-weekend, BranchOut thought of it–they offer a level of security that guarantees that professional connections can only see your work and education information on your professional profile–they can’t see your Facebook profile!

  6. Facebook is going to be the evolution of the world. Social networking was just the begining. This will create more jobs and be used for things much bigger than all of us. LinkedIn is lame and isn’t nearly as powerful as fb. There’s no social aspect to linkedin. We had a presidential debate with Facebook users asking questions.
    My point is, get use to Facebook being the marketing place for Everything! Including showing the world how hard you can party..

    1. First, this post is geared toward digitally savvy white collar professionals. LinkedIn  may be too formal for some careers. Other industries may have their own niche job sites that work better. LinkedIn may seem “lame” to the kind of people who would be attracted to BranchOut as their primary source for professional networking and job hunting. You can find plenty of Craigslist-esque acting, modeling, and service jobs there. A few real companies also participate, but I guarantee that an HR professional is more likely to take seriously an applicant with a decent LinkedIn profile and to give more weight to one’s legitimate LI connections rather than a Facebook friend in common. LinkedIn is “the world’s largest professional network.” It is indeed a social network, with a much more focused and targeted audience.

      Perhaps having no LinkedIn profile or few connections makes BranchOut an attractive alternative because one may have plenty of Facebook friends already. But as I stated in my post, most users’ standards for Facebook friends are looser than those for LinkedIn connections. LI even warns users about only connecting to people you actually know and would trust to recommend you professionally. Facebook is more useful for certain things, and I agree that it can be more fun, but when it comes to a serious, career-oriented interface and network, there is nothing better than LinkedIn.

      I could go on about the incredible power of all the professional data stored on LinkedIn, the groups and forums features, and the social proof of a shared LI connection versus having a Facebook friend in common.

      The prolific nature of and general legitimacy and quality of the jobs on LinkedIn trumps BranchOut, about which I’d say the majority of professionals are unfamiliar, barely familiar, or  uninvolved with no desire for a profile on a casual, less robust, slightly gimcrack version of a professional network.

      For a public event like a presidential debate, Facebook is a sensible platform. It reaches the masses and people of all socioeconomic statuses. LinkedIn would be inappropriate and doesn’t have the ideal format for a massive live discussion.

      As a marketer, I understand the value of both Facebook and LinkedIn. One must weigh the different perspectives and desires of a consumer, a B2B, a B2C, an HR recruiter, an adult looking to reconnect to high school friends, a recent college graduate seeking a job, a laid-off fifty-year old hunting for work, or a lower middle class American wanting more direct involvement with politicians, brands, or their local community. Facebook won’t be “the evolution of the world;” the increasingly social nature of the web, mobile and location-based (social) marketing, and essentially what I described in my Web 3.0 posts will be:
      Part 1.
      Part 2.

  7. There is no self responsability in this world. It comes down to one simple thing really when you think about it. DONT POST THINGS ON FACEBO9K YOU DONT WANT THE WORLD TO SEE! I reakly only post my mus8cal tastes and political opinions and certain events in my life. If employees actually WANT to discriminate me based on my veiws taste in music etc. I woldnt want to work for you. Its all self responssbility people

    1. I agree with you a great deal, except that there should be a barrier between work and social life. Unless you are friends with your boss or are connected to your job’s through your social network, there is no reason that your posts should be viewed by them (you have the ability to control your privacy online and even with specific posts for a reason).

    2. *responsibility *don’t *facebook *don’t *really *musical *employers *views *wouldn’t *it’s *responsibility

  8. Facebook will be shut down because is out of control & a war against each others instead a place for friends…FB is a Hackers, CIA, FBI, Homeland Security, Government, Secret Societies & Some Other Influence Peep’s Property..There, and never were privacy at all…FB apps are a trick & entrapment for FB addicts..

  9. Your use of community college division three athletics to illustrate the canyon between the two networking sites was a poor example choice because it suggests that community college athetics are inferior because they are different. While I see the point you wanted to make, a better example would have been more appropriate rather than one that slammed an industry that already struggles with perception problems.

    1. The wide perception of lesser job prestige associated with two-year technical school degrees or community college degrees and their related careers brought community colleges to mind for this analogy. We are talking about careers so colleges are an easy comparison. CC is as opposed to four-year schools and graduate programs which are more likely to feed into the kind of white collar careers for which the topic of this post is most salient.

      Here are the factors that led me to draw this analogy: prestige, attention, pay grade, competition, required levels of ambition and aspiration, required skill level. I think of the 90s Bulls as a top-performing, inspiring, highly skilled, sedulous team. Their excellence and legitimacy in professional sports is both deserved and heralded. “Community college athletics are inferior because they are different” is not the analogy I intended because BranchOut is not inferior to LinkedIn merely because it is different. Some of the differences make it inferior. But I am not comparing apples to oranges with these networks; LinkedIn is an organic, highly nutritious Red Delicious and BranchOut is a smaller, slightly bruised or mealy genetically modified apple. So if basketball is apples, what would be the lower quality apple (basketball team or league)?

      I wouldn’t want to add to an unfair perception problem if one
      exists; I am unfamiliar with the industry struggle you mention
      and am not much of a sports aficionado. I’m open to editing the analogy to be more accurate and thanks for your comment.

  10. Completely agree with you Emily (as I ignore another friend on FB trying to ‘Branch Out’).  FB is the personal side of my life, and LinkedIn is the professional side.  Hate that it sounds alot like the social networking version of the mullet (business in the front, party in the back) but thats exactly how it is.  I would not come to your cookout in a suit and tie, not would I go to work in a hawaiian shirt and sandals. 

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