By George Rosenthal
Facebook at Work is a new version of the social network designed for business use. It is moving out of beta stage and could soon be readily available as a business tool for both large and small businesses.
Based on the Facebook personal platform, its goal is to enhance communication among colleagues and improve efficiency in the workplace. By using the platform’s Groups feature, a company can reportedly cut down pointless workplace emails, eliminate long email threads, and provide a customizable place for conversations.
According to reports in Re/code and other outlets, the social media giant has been using Facebook at Work internally for several years.
Now they hope to engage others to adopt the format. The goal is to entice businesses to drop their other existing office products.
How does it work?
Once a company starts utilizing the program a user can simply click on the email sent from their employer to set up their account. They can then download the iPhone or Android app to access it.
The work account enables you to connect and collaborate with colleagues. It also lets you join groups related to your team or project and receive company news and updates.
Users can set up their own profile, similar to the personal version. You can create events and invite coworkers.
Group Files can be added to messages and notifications can be adjusted as necessary.
Facebook said an individual’s business account can be easily separated from their personal account. Your work related messages will only be visible to those in your firm.
TechCrunch said Facebook has now added its own chat client as well. The Work Chat app, available in Google Play, allows coworkers to message each other individually, participate in group chats, share photos and videos, make voice calls and even use stickers. An iOS version will be available soon.
Facebook told TechCrunch that it has some 300 businesses using its platform, ranging from smaller startups to large, established companies like banks, real estate firms, beverage companies, travel companies, and more.
Larger name clients include Heineken USA, Hootsuite, Linio in Latin America, and the Royal Bank of Scotland. The bank plans to have 30,000 workers on Facebook At Work by March 2016, and then its entire workforce of 100,000 by the end of next year.
The question remains if those enterprises will see enough value in switching to a newer platform while dropping some already complete with years of stored documents and messages.
At some point Facebook will need to monetize the application. Thus far it is offered as a “freemium service”. It is unclear how the company will charge for the service whether through payments based on size of user groups, archived messages or product support.
Competition will play a role as “At Work” competes head-on with a number of other social and communication-focused platforms for businesses, including Microsoft’s Yammer, Salesforce Chatter, and the rapidly growing Slack.
However, based on the success and resources of the social media giant, it will be hard to bet against the company’s new endeavor into the business marketplace.
As it becomes more readily available, businesses should try their own beta test of the platform and determine if Facebook at Work will work for them.