I realized that I did not mention Yahoo! Kickstart in my last post about social networks.
Yahoo! has had clear success in injecting social components in its offering, most notably through Yahoo! Travel and Yahoo! Answers. Interestingly, the portal did not try to create yet another generic social network and went for a niche approach with Kickstart.
The service aims at establishing bridges between two worlds are not strongly interconnected from a social computing standpoint: the business universe where LinkedIn is the social network of choice, and the academic universe where Facebook established its initial stronghold.
Linkedin offers amongst other things to put job applicants in contact with company insiders that they are connected to, and Kickstart follows in those footsteps. Kickstart is in fact probably closer to Doostang than Linkedin. It inherits a few things from Yahoo! … its enormous traffic, its brand reputation with young adults, and its legitimacy on the job search segment through HotJobs.
There is undoubtedly a need for this service. The HR department of one of my clients recruits a lot of graduates every year and was interested in a similar application as part of the redesign of their web site. In corporate marketing, as the war for talent intensifies, brochures have no longer the same impact as word of mouth and peer conversations – just like in consumer marketing.
The key question for the future of Yahoo! Kickstart is whether Facebook (or an independent third party Facebook developer) will offer a similar service to its fast growing user base. Which in turn brings us to the larger topic of the professional credentials of Facebook – so far, the network has been mainly synonymous with frivolous time-killing activities like games and quizzes.
Can Facebook become a force in business networking? Is an exchange protocol a la OpenSocial the answer? What do you think?