Facebook officially states that around 50% of members include educational and professional information in their profiles, Wallace said, but "we're seeing it's closer to 70% to 80%." Nevertheless, when you sign up for Identified, the service prompts you to fill in the blanks. In fact, I found it didn't do a particularly good job of pulling in the limited professional and educational information that is present on my Facebook profile, so I had to enter that information manually.
I suggested they ought to be tapping the LinkedIn API to offer people who do have a professional profile there to import it. "That is something we would like to do, eventually," Wallace said. "As we grow in scale, we will have the opportunity to integrate with other social networks, including LinkedIn--which does have tremendous data in it."
On the other hand, the virtue of Facebook is not just its larger membership but that its members spend so much more time on the service, Wallace said. LinkedIn members in contrast tend to only check in occasionally and only update their profiles when they are looking for a job or have just changed jobs.
The generation that grew up with Facebook following them all through college doesn't see the point of investing time and energy in LinkedIn, but they're on Facebook every day, Wallace said. That level of engagement makes up for a few gaps in online resume data, he said.
There is another career and professional service built off the Facebook social network, BranchOut, but BranchOut is different because it is as implemented as a Facebook app, meaning that the entire service is embedded inside Facebook. Identified operates as separate website, integrated with Facebook through Web-based application programming interfaces.
Wallace said he agrees with some of BranchOut's critics that people don't necessarily want to do their professional networking inside of Facebook. By setting up Identified as a separate but integrated website, he wants to let people take advantage of their Facebook networks but do so outside of the distractions of Facebook itself.
Identified may well be the next big thing in professional social networking, but it's a horrible match for the way I use Facebook. One reason I'm not as professionally well connected there is that I've always tried to drive purely professional connections to LinkedIn and keep Facebook as a place for friends. I don't usually refuse invites from professional contacts on Facebook, but those aren't usually the contacts I seek out.
Wallace said he understands the privacy concerns and the desire of people to keep personal and professional lives separate, but he thinks that's something the Facebook generation will be able to address by adjusting the privacy settings on their profiles. Putting your professional life on an entirely separate social network is too extreme a solution, particularly for those with strong Facebook networks, he said.
"Whenever I try to look someone up on LinkedIn, it seems we never have any connections. But if I look up the same person on Facebook, it will turn out he knows someone I used to play soccer with," Wallace said.
I believe him, but I still say those 20-somethings should sign up for accounts on LinkedIn, too.
Attend Enterprise 2.0 Santa Clara, Nov. 14-17, 2011, and learn how to drive business value with collaboration, with an emphasis on how real customers are using social software to enable more productive workforces and to be more responsive and engaged with customers and business partners. Register today and save 30% off conference passes, or get a free expo pass with priority code CPHCES02. Find out more and register.