Book Review: I’m on Facebook — Now What??? How to GET Business and Professional Value from Facebook
From time-to-time, as we receive career-related and job-hunting books and other resources from publishers, the staff of Quintessential Careers will review them to help you make better decisions about the best books to use in your career and job search.
I’m on Facebook — Now What??? How to GET Business and Professional Value from Facebook, by Jason Alba and Jesse Stay, $19.95. Paperback. 102 pages, 2008. Happy About. ISBN-10: 1600050966
Reviewed by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
Unlike LinkedIn (see our review of Jason Alba’s companion volume about LinkedIn), of which I became a member in its early years but didn’t do much with, Facebook is a social utility about which I have been a bit obsessive. I joined in about 2005 when Facebook was a year old and back in the days when only those with an .edu email address could join (now anyone age 13 or older can).
I enjoyed following my students’ activities and once a semester, I rocked their world a bit by reminding them that faculty members were on Facebook and could see what they were up to. I have neither stalked my students nor sat in judgment of their lifestyles. Let’s just say that occasionally what I saw on Facebook explained a few things — why a student undergoing a bad breakup was off her game academically or why the guy who frequently bragged about getting high seemed so sleepy in class.
In September 2006 (the same time Facebook was opened up to the general public) Facebook introduced the News Feed, the page that aggregates the activities of all of one’s Facebook friends on one page, and most of my students denounced the move as stalker-ish. Some even left Facebook then. But I loved it. This page enabled me to see at a glance what was happening in my students’ lives and led to my obsessive habit of checking Facebook just about every time I open a Web browser. I’ve gone through periods in which I’ve stayed off Facebook. But today, with more than 60 former students I care about as Facebook friends, I relish following their progress in life. I also enjoy following the exploits of my son and seeing the photos he uploads to Facebook via Facebook Mobile and his cell phone. Note that if you are creeped out by the idea of others knowing so much about you, you can use Facebook’s privacy controls to keep information out of the newsfeed and even keep people other than your Facebook friends from seeing your profile. It’s prudent to either eschew posting risky information and photos to Facebook or to keep professors and employers from seeing them.
My comfort level with Facebook made me quite receptive to Jason Alba’s and Jesse Stay’s slim guide to getting the most out of the platform. I was eager to implement a number of their suggestions and have already undertaken some of them. Here are the top 10 things I learned from this book:
1. You can add the micro-blogging application Twitter as a Facebook application, which then enables you to update your “status” (what you are doing at any given moment) simultaneously on Twitter and Facebook.
2. If you are a woman with a maiden name, you can make yourself more “find-able” by the friends who knew you when — without having your former name show up in your profile. You can add the name to your profile, but it won’t be visible.
3. Facebook can enhance your online presence, hence your personal branding, and hence your visibility to employers, especially since October 2007 when Facebook public profiles began to be indexed by search engines. You can thus, if you choose, show off your personality to prospective employers, make yourself attractive to them, and allow them to find you online. You also never know when someone with whom you network on Facebook could lead you to a great job. You can create a Facebook “badge” (mine is at the end of this review) and place it on your blog or Web page, thus increasing your visibility and perhaps enabling you to add more friends.
4. Facebook can be an excellent tool for collaboration. My students used it for teamwork in a number of ways. Assigned to a team for a group project, they would often go on Facebook to scope out other team members and get a feel for their personalities, strengths, and weaknesses before meeting with them. Once they met their team members, students would often set up Facebook Groups that enabled them to communicate in a central location (Alba and Stay recommend an application called ClassTalk). And I have set up Facebook groups for entire classes to build camaraderie by posting photos and sharing information. Alba and Stay suggest Facebook Groups for work teams within organizations.
5. While many Facebook Groups are kind of silly (I saw one dedicated to buying carrots on a certain day in 2008 to see if a carrot panic would ensue), some can be valuable and can enable you to network with other members.
6. Setting up and inviting Facebook friends to a Facebook Event is a great way to promote the event and generate attendance/participation.
7. The next revolutionary wave in Facebook history came in 2007 when the utility was opened up to developers to create applications to run on Facebook; Alba and Stay note that “tens of thousands” are available. I saw my students add tons of these fun — and often useful — applications and tried a few myself. I find that one must be selective in adding applications as they can really clutter up your Facebook space.
8. You can synch your blog so postings show up on your friends’ Facebook News Feeds. Alba and Stay aren’t specific about how to do so, and I haven’t quite figured it out, but I have seen my friends do it and find it a very cool feature. The authors offer a chapter on Facebook applications, highlighting those they find most useful.
9. If you have a business, you can create a Facebook page to promote it, but you need a good strategy for bringing in Fans to your page, as businesses with only a handful of Fans look a little pitiful. Alba and Stay devote an entire chapter to suggesting possible components of such a strategy. Primary among these elements is to investigate the Facebook strategies of similar and competing businesses.
10. Copious resources are available for getting even more out of Facebook, and Alba and Stay devote a full chapter to listing these. These resources, especially blogs about Facebook, are important because the utility continues to evolve rapidly, so avid users will want to stay current. For example, at this writing, Facebook had just announced looming changes to its profiles. Regularly updated resources are a smart way to stay on top of discussion about such changes and what they mean for Facebook users.
One aspect of I’m on Facebook Now What??? that I especially like is that the chapter summaries are set up as lists of Action Items (in Alba’s I’m on LinkedIn Now What???, they were simply called Chapter Summaries); these suggestions give the reader a framework for getting more out of Facebook. One small quibble with the book came from an Action Item that recommended looking at Alba’s LinkedIn book, and devising a strategy for using Facebook and LinkedIn together. I’ve read both books, and I’m afraid I need guidance on how to combine these tools. Alba and Stay also suggest posting an ad to Facebook to reach a specific demographic. Perhaps I didn’t do so in the right way to the right group with the right product, but my advertising efforts on Facebook have been quite unsuccessful. I also liked Stay’s description in Chapter 6 of what a typical Facebook day is like for him.
It’s great to see that both the LinkedIn and Facebook guides suit a variety of users. I found the Facebook volume just as helpful to me as a heavy Facebook user as the LinkedIn book was to me as a confused and minimal user.
You are welcome to check out my Facebook profile and consider “friending” me via my badge below.
Check out all our book reviews in Quintessential Reading: Career and Job Book Reviews.