The Social Network- 500 million strong and growing

I just saw The Social Network this weekend with my teenage niece and nephew. Hard to believe that Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook barely 7 years ago and now he has over 500 million people logging on to “the” Facebook. 150 million of those people are accessing Facebook through their mobile devices;  Facebook is now the second highest traffic site after google- but if you count the time spent per visit, Facebook crushes Google.

I  am in week two of a month long Facebook deep dive with the Facebook Success Summit 2010– it’s incredible.. and i can’t help but think that Mark and the team at Facebook are just getting started.

Yet when I do google searches for companies using social media platforms like Facebook internally- going where the energy is… my searches come up dismally empty. How is it that on the one hand we have a world outside of work exploding with new tools to connect and communicate and we are still hanging on for dear life inside work spaces to such traditional forms of communication?

My sister in law works for ICBC- she has for over 20 years. Last year they introduced a Facebook-like Intranet and she hasn’t looked back. At the click of a mouse- she can “friend” anyone she might need to work with, and see instantly if they are at their desk and online. Through Instant Messaging she saves time and money by typing a quick question to get an opinion, a decision, a different viewpoint- and gets instant feedback. She can share her desktop screen with her colleagues by giving them permission to remotely view it- and thus share pictures, or whatever part of the ICBC system she is working in- again – instant real time feedback.

For customers it means faster turnaround on decisions; for staff it feels less cumbersome and more dynamic. How many times have you picked up the phone, got a voicemail, played phone tag… by the time that person phones back you found the answer- even email seems a bit archaic: Email gets typed (and arguably that takes long than an Instant Message because you have to craft full sentences vs. “chat” talk which is more like conversation), sent, sits in inbox, gets opened, read, reverse process to send back;

ICBC allows Facebook access in certain cases for adjusters doing research on a case, but still has the site blocked during work hours for all staff without special permission. At least they are headed in the right direction though…. and I look forward to following their progress in the next few months.

As I looked over in the movie theatre, at my 16 year old niece loving every minute of “The Social Network” I had to shake my head- her world has never been anything BUT this kind of social, interactive, DYNAMIC form of communication and network building…. and she is about to get a bit reality check heading into her first part time job this winter.

I can only hope that as more millenials flood workplaces, we will be able to shift communication and collaboration in the workplace to a more mainstream acceptance of Facebook and other social tools that have the potential to serve multiple purposes.. if we think creatively about how to use the applications, instead of just banning to Firewall land.