Facebook is the largest social media outlet in the world and boasts the more 750 million active users and while the general enterprise of the platform has been geared mostly toward social interaction new applications such as BranchOut are positioning themselves as Facebook business “utilities”. BranchOut, with over 800,000 users, is a networking service which functions similar to the stand alone site LinkedIn but with a major difference. The application resides on the powerful Facebook platform. The BranchedOut approach is to make use of users profile career data and allow them to grow their online professional network by leveraging their Facebook friend list.
Previously users were able to create a profile by integrating their LinkedIn account data. However the company has recently blocked access to its groups and the API isstating breach of Terms of Service. At present when creating a profile the application automatically pulls a new users Company and Education data from the users existing Facebook page, but the bulk of the career profile must be uploaded manually. However once a profile has been created a dashboard displays the users network statistics, most connected friends, options to expand their network by inviting friends, and job suggestions based on a users chosen search criteria. There is also an Endorsement link that allows a user to “say something nice about your friends” (the function even can auto generate standardized/example endorsement texts). Also of note is the Badge of Honor section which gives the ability to bestow friends with badges which are posted to their profile. These badges range from “Exceptional Doctor” to “Super Funny”. How much clout these awards might bring is certainly questionable. Finally on the dashboard the company tab enables users to view current jobs as well as connect with friends and friends of friends that work at the company they have searched. This page also gives you the opportunity to request an introduction.
Additionally a unique feature to BranchOut is that and user may list a job. However, it will only be seen by your network and friends of friends. To publicly post a Premium Posting viewable to all users the price is $49.
Another interesting function is that the site uses the idea of “gamification” to obtain a qualitative snapshot of a user/candidate. The answers to the multiple choice questions in these “games” provide information to a potential employer about you as well as help to provide relevant job suggestions. Quizzes such as “What is your Dream Job” ask users questions such as “In school the best classes were: a) The challenging ones, b) The ones with discussions, c) The ones where I could make things up, d) The easy ones.
Lastly, for organizations that wish to post jobs to their company Facebook pages, BranchOut has a solution called “CareerConnect”. This generates a Jobs Tab widget on the companies Facebook page. Companies can post openings and alert followers to new jobs, encourage job opening link sharing, and show applicants applying through BranchOut who they might know at the company to look to for referrals.
BranchOut has made the smart move of tapping into the connective power of Facebook with their professional network application; it remains to be seen if the formula will prove to be true competition for the established and widely used LinkedIn.
Carley Oberdoerster is a Communications professional living in Boston. She currently works at ThomsonReuters as a Product Specialist managing online Investor Relations and Public Relations products. Her background includes a client roster of several Fortune500 accounts and international work experience in both Hong Kong and London. Carley received her B.A. from Michigan State University in Organizational Communications and holds a Digital Graphic Design certificate from New England Institute of Art.