Facebook’s low key move into the workplace became a reality this week with the social media giant launching its Facebook at Work apps on a limited pilot.
The corporate version of the social juggernaut, which has been in the pipeline for months, will see Facebook go into directly competition with the likes of Jive, Yammer, Slack and – at a stretch – LinkedIn and Google+.
Early reports suggest Facebook at Work will either allow people to establish a separate work account or simply link their personal profiles to Work to gather everything in one place.
Handy indeed but the iron test will undoubtedly surround the issue of whether people wish to blur the lines of personal and working lives.
Lars Rasmussen, the engineering director at Facebook heading up the project, revealed Facebook employees are already using Work as their primary IC channel – and is convinced the social media giant’s experience will give them a vital edge in an already saturated marketplace.
He said: “When Mark [Zuckerberg, the CEO] makes an announcement he just posts it on Facebook at Work.
“Facebook at Work’s strength is that we’ve spent ten years and incorporated feedback from one billion active users. All of that is embedded now in the same product but adapted for different use cases.”
Graham Davidson, Headlines’ Head of Digital, says the move in social enterprise was inevitable – but stresses that Facebook is facing numerous challenges ahead.
He outlines the key points:
With so many people already using Facebook as their personal social media tool of choice to connect with friends and family, the use of Facebook as a method to engage with colleagues has the potential to be the holy grail of internal communication.
By using a platform that people are comfortable with, and often use almost as second nature to check on updates, the distinction between work Facebook and personal Facebook has the potential to be blurred and therefore encouraging people to engage with their work Facebook in their own time as an extension of their own personal social media use.
It can open a pathway for companies to enable them to develop the use of other internal comms tools within the digital world as employees become more and more accustomed to using technology to engage with work in their down time.
Of course, familiarity will be a key tool in Facebook’s expansion in the workplace. Users know the system and understand it, making its introduction for colleagues far less traumatic than many other platforms.
Given the track record of Facebook you can rest assured that the use of Facebook at work will come at a cost.
An educated guess suggests that this will either focus around advertising, or potentially taking the approach of LinkedIn by offering a premium version of the service.
Although this is not something we are not already used to – and Facebook have made no indication that they will do either, yet.
Engagement also has the potential to become an issue.
Many individuals are open critics of Facebook, with privacy and data protection being two of the biggest grips.
And who is to say that Facebook will not make it mandatory for you to have a personal account before you can use the work edition (a model that they adopted with Page Creation)?
This is something that not everyone will embrace and will provide gaps in blanket use of the tool and dilute the engagement levels in pockets of the workforce.
If you’re interested in signing up for a Facebook at Work account, visit their sign-up page here…