No not you, and I hope not me.  I’ll try and keep this short, as there are already way too many blog articles discursively annotating the onward march of the social media phenomenon.  Pop is indeed eating itself.

In my view, the Network Effect, that is the key to the success of Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter, has an optimum saturation point, which is way below 100%.  Moreover, each of these channels is ill prepared for practical use beyond a certain point.

I use social media for a variety of reasons, which also include the dreadedpersonal branding.  I want more people to know what I’m like, what I do, and have a direct route to contact me.  The “Brand” these days, whether personal or corporate, has to be three dimensional, and authentic.  Whatever you project must be truly stamped through you, like a stick of Blackpool rock.  The concept of a brand as a veneer is dead, but don’t we want to maintain a veneer for public/ business, and save the real stuff for closer friends and family?  I know I do, and I’m an open book.

Up until now, there has been an ad hoc and tacit agreement that, amongst us lot anyway, LinkedIn and Twitter are used for business (in that order) and that Facebook is reserved for “Me Time”.  Here’s the news; people are resisting, but Social Media Creep is eroding Facebook.  Business associates inevitably hook up on FB if they are also friends, but what if Eddie is more friends with me than I am with him?  What if he is only friends because he wants to do business?  If I connect to Eddie’s colleague, who is a real friend, Eddie will feel rejected if I er … reject him.  So being nice guys, we all end up connecting to anyone who asks.  LinkedIn used to be really strict in their policies on this, because connecting to 25,000 others actually negates the benefits of a network of real contacts.  Otherwise you may as well use the phone book.

Right then smarty-pants, what’s your big idea?  OK, I’ll tell you; it’s not new, but I believe the time has definitely come for layered network connections.  I want to be able to have a hierarchy of networks, where an inner circle can be invisible to all other connections.  If I’m a recruiter, I want my employer clients to be able to view my many business connections, but not those candidates I have been cultivating.  I want to be able to connect to other recruiters, who are both friends and rivals, and decide what level of access they have to my connections.  I know many people maintain several different accounts on FB, Li, and Twitter, but that just becomes too confusing, and is impossible to manage.

So I say it’s time the big three got a little more sophisticated and gave us the tools to do this.  One last request; can you make it idiot-proof too please?

Stephen O'Donnell is a lifelong recruiter, internet enthusiast, fadgadget and peripatetic writer.

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