Now that Facebook‘s Chat function seems to be officially out of Beta and is deployed everywhere (if it’s on my network, it must be everywhere), I got a chance to try it today.
I haven’t been a big user of IM (Check that: at all.) This is completely new to me.
But I can see how Chat will be a strong addition that will make Facebook even more valuable for business networking, as Adam indicates. I think of it particularly in a PR/Journalist relationship. If you can see whether your journalist friends are on-line and can send them a quick message, that will be less interruptive than a phone call. If you continually send them worthwhile news tips or ideas, you can solidify the relationship. If you start abusing them with off-target pitches, they can un-friend you…or block you. It’s one more way Facebook can put the “relations” back in media relations.
I think this also has obvious applications for workplace collaborations…the ability to have conversations that are much more informal, back and forth, without the ponderous formality of e-mail.
“Can’t you just pick up the phone instead?” Of course. But just as my middle daughter (in particular) uses SMS text messaging to connect with her friends (and don’t get me started on how far she went over her monthly allotment of 300 in March) instead of getting into a long conversation, sometimes a more terse interaction is appropriate in the business world, too. And Facebook Chat could be a great way to do this.
In fact, I had a nice conversation with my son-in-law, Kyle, via Facebook Chat this morning (see above); I saw he was on Facebook and had the pleasure of introducing him to this new feature. Would I have thought to pick up my cell phone and call him? Highly unlikely. But when I saw he was on-line, we were able to have a chat that didn’t take a lot of time, but let us touch base.
I think Chat will likely cause me to keep my Facebook status more regularly updated, too. And I like how well Chat and Messaging are integrated. I was called from my desk during my chat with Kyle, and by the time I returned he had signed off. So instead of continuing the chat, I was given an option to send him a message in Facebook. This is a great way of blending the rapid interactivity of Chat with the asynchronous tools already built into Facebook.
Here’s a good Facebook Chat FAQ that outlines some of the current features for those of you who, like me, haven’t been IMers.
I hope you’ll try out Facebook Chat, and if you see I’m on-line, start a conversation. If you’re not my friend yet, you can add me here, and I’ll make you part of my Blog Friends list.
Which leads me to a set of feature requests and enhancements that would make Facebook Chat a really strong business networking tool. That will be the subject of my next post.