The evolution of social media in the past few years has been incredible, not only because of the drastic difference between traditional forms of communication, but also due to how fast it has changed things. Facebook went from being a network that was exclusive to college students to a Web site that became popular among other demographics to a tool that many companies have been obliged to exploit in order to stay relevant.
In the media world, Facebook has become even more important recently, as advertising campaigns have increasingly featured the social site. Ad agencies create fan pages for their clients’ products and publish news (such as reviews from publications) on these pages, and a plethora of "likes" and comments later are able to gauge how effective this innovative form of advertising has been. At the same time, it isn’t uncommon to find media companies with Facebook pages, which are moderated by their human resources department and feature exclusive information on open positions. Pages also are accessible to those who are not Facebook members. Once infamously labeled as the catalyst of procrastination, Facebook has emerged as a viable tool for research, particularly for those who seek to land interviews with companies.
For quite some time, Linkedin has been known as a site where facts about companies can be found. From the company profile page, to the Advanced Search, which allows for finding meticulous information about a specific department in the company, Linkedin has allowed countless users to prepare themselves for interviews or simply learn more about an organization. It also rewards networking, thanks to its six degrees of separation-esque connectivity and groups (such as the university alumni groups that expose you to a network that you may not have been connected with previously). However, a balanced mix of research between Linkedin and Facebook (as well as traditional methods) can help job seekers reach their goals more efficiently.
The two Web sites clearly are starting to become more similar, and not only because LinkedIn recently adopted a Facebook-esque "Like" button. Researching a company and the individuals you are interviewing with (and/or hope to interview with) on LinkedIn is necessary, but finding the little details on Facebook can also help tremendously, in particular for those seeking to land research-heavy jobs. While searching for a job at an ad agency, you could review the Facebook page that they created for their client(s) to find smaller details (number of fans and the latest updates) and use LinkedIn to find general information about companies that may not be available on their Web sites, such as finding how you’re connected with them via your network.
The key is to make sure that you don’t sound like you are reading off of a script, but instead find ways to work the information you find into your conversations and interactions with the company that interests you. Sprinkling this information that you found while in an interview (or while writing a cover letter) can make a substantial difference if done subtly. For example, mentioning a company fact that you found via LinkedIn/Facebook as a means of supporting an answer to a question shows that you took the time to do the research. While interviewing with someone, you don’t want to read off his or her résumé (and of course, yours neither), but rather express to this person how his or her background and goals are similar to yours. In a world where shifts have become longer and overtime has become common, companies are increasingly adamant about hiring individuals who will be compatible with the company culture and get along well with the rest of the team because they will have to spend much more time with them.
All of the results you need can’t always be found on Facebook or LinkedIn. Traditional ways of finding information, such as communicating with people you know who are in the roles that you want to be in and asking for advice will always be critical. Above all, remember to be creative and mix up all of the aforementioned research methods until you find an approach that works for you.