CEOs faceless on Facebook

“All these work-related conversations are taking place on Facebook, and the CEOs are missing out!”

Sofia Quintero almost spits out her coffee with impatience. She’s been studying for an MA in media and communications at London Metropolitan University and has just handed in her dissertation – on Facebook at work.

For the paper, she interviewed five CEOs from different sectors – and uncovered this disconnect:

“They allow their employees to use Facebook, but they see it as ‘oh, something that the kids do’. They won’t ‘friend’ or be ‘friended’ by the people they work with. They keep their profiles separate. But what’s the point of that?”

We’re sitting in the new Tinderbox cafe, in Angel, North London, on a chilly Friday afternoon at the tail end of January. All around us, people have got their laptops, Blackberries and i-phones out, hooked up to the wifi, working, social networking and generally communicating.

“Social convergence is a reality – why don’t they see it?”

I’ve never thought about the term “social convergence” in the simplistic context of public/private before, but I like it. The faster we work, the more we need simplicity.

Blogger Rob Vanasco put his finger on the problem in a recent post:

“People want more and more to bring their data together to one central, easy to use place. However, people also want to be able to separate their data for their friends, family, co-workers, potential employers, and online acquaintances.”

And Rob goes on to give a good example:

“Someone heavy into the tech industry who uses Twitter, or a service like it, might not want their Twitter post automatically updating their Facebook feed. Their family and friends might not want to be inundated with post after post about what article they are reading, up to the date tech news, or what sites they’ve just bookmarked or added to their RSS feed. This could potentially turn their friends/family off to reading their updates, and could be a good way to lose friends on social networks. “

He adds that “contacts on Linkedin don’t need to see “party pictures” or your latest mobile uploads of your child’s first haircut.”

But as home-working, flexi-working and other work/life hybrids become the norm, surely the hard and fast division of work/social personas is increasingly irrelevant?

We’ve already seen this happen: post the dotcom crash of 2000/1, there was an explosion in laptop use in coffee bars – back then it seemed to signify you were either a student who’d been thrown out of the library or someone who’d just been made redundant (from your hi-tech start-up) and was filling out applications online. Now laptop, coffee/green tea and jeans looks positively modern and industrious. The fact you’re not wearing a suit is neither here nor there. But it’s taken a while for that to change.

I’m convinced that the same will happen with the traditional “line you cross at your peril” that defines the employee/boss relationship.

Like Sofia, I think we’re going to see an increasing number of bosses lowering their defences on Facebook – even if it involves taking up multiple profiles.

2 Responses to “CEOs faceless on Facebook”


  1. 1 Jo

    It’s an interesting how much we keep our persona together. As we link platforms, we have to stop and think.

    If the appreciative inquiry mantra is find what works and do more of it, is the social media mantra find what you are willing to make public to everyone and do more of it?

  2. 2 gareth wong

    Great post Jemima!

    My comment is that from the CEO/chairman’s perspective, some might want to get involved but the potential “cost” could be much greater!

    Like you, I deal with a lot of CXOs, and their challenge is that whatever they said in public, especially in black & white (print and digital), it can be interpreted/taken out of context..

    Don’t blame those that are/maybe a bit more on the cautious side of things when it comes to social media!

    One thing is for sure, they have to be in it to “understand” what it’s about…

    The result of kangaroo project is a prime example!!

    Another thing is, being firm with a “friend” is sometime much tougher than being firm with an employee…

    @GarethWong

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