Jul 10, 2007

Toad's Big Idea

The unlinkable-except-for-today-thanks-to-Dell Wall Street Journal has an excellent columnist named Jared Sandberg, who writes something called "Cubicle Culture" about the absurdities of office life.

This week he writes about what happens when your boss wants to be your MySpace friend. Here's an excerpt that pretty much sums it up:

Paul Dyer was always able to hold off his boss's invitations to party by employing that arms-length response: "We'll have to do that sometime," he'd say.

But when his boss, in his 30s, invited Mr. Dyer, 24 years old, to be friends on the social-networking sites MySpace and Facebook, dodging wasn't so easy. On the one hand, accepting a person's request to be friends online grants them access to the kind of intimacy never meant for office consumption, such as recent photos of keggers and jibes from friends. ("Still wearing that lampshade?")

Mr. Dyer, it turns out, wasn't the one who had to be embarrassed. His boss had photos of himself attempting to imbibe two drinks at once, ostensibly, Mr. Dyer ventures, to send the message: "I'm a crazy, young party guy." The boss also wore a denim suit ("I'd never seen anything like it," Mr. Dyer says) and posed in a photo flashing a hip-hop backhand peace sign.

It was painful to watch. "I hurt for him," says Mr. Dyer.

Anyway, reading this, I immediately thought of LinkedIn, which is MySpace for work. And then it hit me: MySpace (and Facebook) should create a MySpace/Work (Facebook/Work) site that would allow users to connect in a way that's work appropriate. The pages would operate independently of the users "social" MySpace page and would likely attract an older audience as well. Users could take advantage of the multi-media tools to show off some of their achievements or even offer Dilbert-like plaints. About work. Either way, the sites would be free of pictures of people playing beer pong or exposing their breasts.* And landing on one would not subject the hapless viewer to a loud blast of Maroon 5. The sites would be a brilliant brand extension as well as a huge moneymaker for them.

Any venture capitalists out there?

*Why? Seriously, are so many people that insecure of their level of coolness that they need to post photographic evidence of their ability to "party?" Especially given that such evidence only serves to make them look even dorkier.

5 comments:

Chris Grayson said...

I think there is already a really great business networking site just like Linked[in]... It's called Linked[in].

But more seriously, it might make business sense for Facebook to go there. I think MySpace is too in-the-gutter to attract serious business users. Really, if you had a business associate ask you to be "friends" on their MySpace/Work site, how seriously would you take them?

Toad said...

You know Chris, that was my first thought when I read the WSJ article. But then I remembered that we live in a bubble and that most people work at Dunder-Mifflin or the equivalent thereof.

So while MySpace may seem old school and uncool in our upscale urban bubble, for the mass of the country, it's very much a brand new toy.

And as we all know, whether you're a restaurant or a social media site, you make your real money when the masses find you.

CK said...

"*Why? Seriously, are so many people that insecure of their level of coolness that they need to post photographic evidence of their ability to "party?" Especially given that such evidence only serves to make them look even dorkier."

Um, in large part due to advertising and marketing. (just try and disagree with me on that one.)

CK said...

"Anyway, reading this, I immediately thought of LinkedIn, which is MySpace for work. And then it hit me: MySpace (and Facebook) should create a MySpace/Work (Facebook/Work) site that would allow users to connect in a way that's work appropriate. The pages would operate independently of the users "social" MySpace page and would likely attract an older audience as well."

Are you saying here to create a space that's just a "cover all" to keep professionals out of certain spaces (e.g. MySpace or FBook)? Or to actually create a decent b2b networking site?

I can't use LI. I just accept connections...I ran an active post on it over at my blog and how the heck I could use it. It's like a yellow pages of people. I've yet to see anything, other than blogs, that are really of value to me professionally or personally.

Toad said...

@CK: I was thinking a B2B space that utilized all the graphic/video/interactive tools of MySpace and Facebook. To let people post things other than their CVs, but to keep it all about business, e.g. no beer bhong photos.

As for LinkedIn, it's a great way to reconnect with people you've lost touch with. It's caught on in the ad industry for precisely that reason: people change jobs so often, you lose touch with each other and LI gives you a reason to get back in touch. But in terms of actual usefulness a la MySpace... you're right- not much.