LinkenIn’s CEO was at the Web 2.0 conference and gave an interesting antidote that’s sure to keep customers and investors in LinkedIn happy. When asked whether he was afraid of Facebook, he claimed to be unafraid because of two little words, “keg” and “stand”. He points out that as long as there are embarrassing pictures on Facebook, no one is going to want their colleagues, bosses and potential colleagues and bosses browsing through them. I’m sure some of LinkedIn’s employees and investors chuckled and felt a little warm inside.
The problem, they’re wrong. I give LinkedIn 2 to 3 more years of growth before it starts to fall away. No, I don’t think that embarrassing pictures are going to come off of Facebook. On the contrary, I think they will proliferate. In fact, I think they will proliferate to the point that the social stigma associated with them will be lifted. I would be just as likely to hire someone who has pictures of them having a good time outside of work on Facebook as I would be someone who didn’t. In fact, if they’re willing to be friends with me on Facebook and the only indicator in their profile that they’d be a bad employee is a shot of them doing a keg stand, I’d feel better about hiring them. If they hid their Facebook page from me, I’d be worried there was much more.
The truth is, someone who has a couple of good drinking stories fits in better at many companies then a lilly-clean employee who has never had a drink. As social networks spread, people will be more apt to be themselves on Facebook and companies will be able to look for employees whose “real selves” match their culture. Once that happens and Facebook adds work history and professional recommendations there won’t be any need for LinkedIn.