I’m looking at you, Facebook.
When word leaked out this past week about Facebook launching some sort of jobs board, I hoped that it would be something game changing or unique. As I learned more about the leaked plans, I came to the realization that it clearly wasn’t (and I’m not the only one).
I don’t know what the ultimate game plan is here. I’ve seen a lot of new ideas (a lot) and there are some solid ones out there. But this? This is job board 1.0 sort of innovation. And we don’t really need more of that.
Is there potential? Yes
Does Facebook have potential for a career and employer application that could be bigger than anything we’ve yet seen?
With deep connections into Facebook’s knowledge graph — the way we’re all networked and tied together on the social network — a career and employment app could be incredibly powerful.
The strength is obvious: imagine you’re applying for a job at XYZ company and you find out that a friend’s family member works there. Or what if some sort of robust search capability were added to the site? Or what if Facebook could recommend certain career options based on your activity beyond career-related postings?
The problem is that it would also come at the expense of privacy and the sort of digital wall that many people have put up to differentiate between their Facebook life and their LinkedIn life. Yet, the sheer numbers potential is attractive in it’s own right (and the certain flexibility of a large number of their users to roll with the privacy punches, myself sadly included).
Going the jobs board route now
Those are complicated questions. That’s why I think Facebook is going for the low hanging fruit here. And it might be a good strategy, especially for a (now-publicly traded) company that is looking for a new revenue stream.
That doesn’t mean they’ll have a great monetization strategy right off the bat. In fact, it sounds like that might not even be a concern. But at some point, they can flip that switch, start writing themselves some checks, and placating an impatient Wall Street.
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And, you can be certain that money they will get. People will absolutely pay for easy access to Facebook’s masses. Social media mavens might not like it, but it might be a cheaper way to bypass all of the brand building and fan page modifying and just reach the people you want.
Avoid the temptation
Last week, I alluded to the two paths that I believe LinkedIn has in front of them: open versus closed. I think Facebook has a similar choice in front of them as well: innovation versus monetization.
Using the job board path isn’t a bad way to get started. Maybe it will help people think about Facebook beyond personal relationships. But there will be some temptation to go back to that well time and time again.
First, it will be premium placements, then ultra-premium placements, then paid search capability, and then dropping stuff into people’s news feeds. By then you’ll never want to go backward, lose revenue, and make a truly innovative model based on that very valuable social
What I’m hoping for — beyond another job board that we don’t need — is something interesting, unique or differentiated from what the market has today.
No company is in a better position to do this than Facebook. But, I believe they are going to have to do it themselves.