About 6 months ago I posted something on my Facebook account that had nothing to do with work. It was a rant about a sales guy trying to sell me something completely unnecessary for my motorcycle. Two days later, a friend on Facebook and superior at work asked me about it at work – the implication being that I was ranting about the workplace – where we ironically extolled that the social graph (or identity/profile) was and should be separate from the professional graph.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been emphatic about a singular online identity – which obviously paves the way for Facebook Connect to be the way people log in anywhere online. He’s quoted three times in The Facebook Effect saying: “You have one identity.”
And that…“The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly.” Further challenging the current separation of the social and professional graphs by saying: “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.”
Well, we know how he feels about it.
In turn, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner has maintained that the separation between social and professional graphs is vital to professionals and to LinkedIn. At last fall’s Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco — in his “keg stand” interview — he told John Batelle:
“While many of us in college probably were at parties having a good time, doing things like keg stands, or being exposed to keg stands, I don’t know that many of us would look forward to having a prospective employer have access to picture of those events.”
Who’s right? I’m less confident in the separation between the two than I was just 24 hours ago.
If I’m answering Shel literally, I’d say “see the first paragraph of this post.”
But I had to test this just a liiiiittle bit more. The attendees of this conference were a better cross section of U.S. professionals than the early-adopting, Banana Republic-wearing, all technology-loving dot.com crowds that populated the early social media conferences. Insurance. Federal and municipal governments. Universities. Healthcare organizations. And, even the country’s largest cemetary.
They were all in the house — represented by professionals from every generation in the workforce today.
These are people working for really big, very regulated, widely and deeply impactful organizations from never-go-away industries — all there trying to figure out where to place their social media bets and budgets. Shel’s point may be the most thought provoking point made out of all the sessions. Because none of us are over-staffed or walking around with extra dollars pouring out of our back pockets, picking one may be a choice we’re forced to make.
So I put the question to the attendee group to see what they thought about the separation or blurring of social and professional graphs. That group was on Facebook. I’ll post the comments as they come in.
I’m not a Dead Head, but as I sit here during business hours while at the dealer getting my car repaired working on a post that has benefits to both my professional and personal brand, it’s hard not to think that maybe Shel has spoken for many of us.
My car is ready. Back to the work.
– Jose Mallabo