Last month, Reuter’s reported that something new is coming to Facebook: work. Facebook at Work, Facebook’s professional complement to its social network, is set to launch in the next few months.
The services will let businesses create their own internal social networks for employees to use. The service also allows for file and video sharing as well as creating events which those on the platform can use for scheduling recurring meetings or one-off events.
While Facebook at Work is designed for workplace collaboration, it utilizes the same features as its existing social network including a news feed, likes, and a chat service. Speaking to Reuters, Julien Codorniou, Facebook’s director of global platform partnerships and leader of the Facebook at Work team, said that, "95 percent of what we developed for Facebook is also adopted for Facebook at Work.”
While many of the features and the cost (free) are the same, profiles will be separate and distinct from users’ existing Facebook profiles. Or, as Facebook puts it, “With a Facebook at Work account, you can use Facebook tools to interact with coworkers. Things you share using your work account will only be visible to other people at your company.”
Reports of Facebook at Work began to surface last January when the company began beta-testing the service. As TechCrunch wrote at the time, “the product puts Facebook head-to-head with the likes of Microsoft’s Yammer, Slack, Convo, Socialcast, and a huge number of others who are trying to tackle the ‘enterprise social network’ space.”
These in-office social networks are set up to improve coworker communication and create running conversations that take place in real time instead of over disorganized email threads.
Reuters reported that “the service will be open to all companies once launched and Facebook plans to charge ‘a few dollars per month per user’ for premium services such as analytics and customer support, a company spokeswoman said.”
The product has been in testing and development for over a year and CIO.com reports that more than 300 companies including Coldwell Banker and the Royal Bank of Scotland were among the beta-testers.
Codorniou’s ultimate goal? Connectivity. "The fundamental bet behind Facebook at Work is that a more connected workplace becomes a more productive workplace," he says. "When you connect people, you create a more open, more transparent workplace, and ultimately a more productive workplace."
While the connectivity of Facebook at Work is appealing to many in business, there are those who believe there are some serious security and privacy issues Facebook will need to overcome. Many are concerned over storing data on Facebook's cloud instead of on their own servers as well as Facebook having access to their business data. Speaking to TechTarget, Nemertes Research Group analyst Irwin Lazar said, "Beta users have expressed data governance concerns. Facebook has not been clear on whether messages can be stored and archived in case of an audit or lawsuit."
CIO.com reports, "The reality is that few companies can effectively serve consumers and enterprises because their needs and objectives often run counter to the each other."
We will have to watch to see if Facebook at Work will become as popular for business as it has for people in their personal lives.
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David S. Buddingh is founder and partner in Buddingh & Associates, Inc., an award-winning strategic marketing consulting firm in Naperville, IL. Contact him at (630) 961-4504 or visit www.BuddinghAssociates.com.