On Wednesday, I attended a class on Facebook and MySpace. It was geared toward parents, but I also wanted to explore the sites for business reasons. I have heard that Facebook is the #1 networking site for professionals, and MySpace is the favorite among teens and those in their 20s. Here is my personal analysis of these sites:
I had several friends invite me to join Facebook, but I assumed it was like MySpace and never took the time to investigate it. However, after viewing their pages, I created my own Facebook profile. From viewing the profiles of people I know, the site seems fairly tame. The layout, as far as I can tell, is pretty much the same though you can tailor some features to meet your needs. Like other networking sites, you can add your photo, list your profile, show your friends, join groups and talk about what you are currently working on. While most of my connections are work-related, I don't see a lot of business use for this site other than to stay more casually connected with my far-flung business contacts.
I would caution Facebook users to remember that prospective employers and others interested in you (e.g., ex-husbands, etc.) have been known to use Facebook to learn more about your personal life, so don't write anything in your profile or on your Facebook wall that you don't want the rest of the world to know.
On the flip side, people who aren't members can't view profiles, but once you're in, you can see just about everything unless you have blocked specific users or have opted for a private profile. From a parenting perspective, I'd be much more likely to let my technologically-curious teen daughter create a Facebook page than one on MySpace.
I'll be honest about this site. I hate it. I absolutely hate it. It is loud, trashy and, in many instances, inappropriate for teen use or for business. I know people who have business profiles on MySpace but I can tell you that I, for one, will never view them. I have always had a hang up about MySpace because of all of the Dateline stories about sexual predators on the site, but after giving it a chance, I still don't like it. The site has a whole section on privacy, keeping your kids safe, etc., but it doesn't prevent anyone from surfing the site and seeing what's out there.
I'm a big proponent of freedom of speech, so I respect the right of users to express themselves freely and to design their pages to suit their own tastes, but I don't see how it would benefit businesses unless they cater to younger audiences. My advice: proceed at your own risk.
I'd love to hear what other businesses think about the two sites. Please send me your comments.