Workplace by Facebook
A Private Social Network for Your Business
Fans of Facebook—and there are more than a billion of them—now have a near mirror image of the social network that they can use for their businesses. Dubbed Workplace by Facebook, the new app offers all of the familiar features that have made Facebook the world’s most popular digital meeting place. The primary difference is that Workplace by Facebook enables businesses to use the familiar Facebook environment to create an entirely private social network for their employees and trusted trading partners.
“Workplace by Facebook reimagines business communications by bringing the familiar social experience to the enterprise environment,” said Siddharth Bohra, chief business officer of IT service provider LTI (www.lntinfotech.com/en-us/pages/home.aspx).
“Today’s modern workplaces recognize that people want to use tools that they are familiar with to collaborate at work,” said David Meyer, vice president of product for OneLogin (www.onelogin.com), an internet credentials management company that partners with Workplace by Facebook.
Pilot tested a year before its release in October, Workplace by Facebook is looking to muscle in on other players already offering social networks for business, including Slack, Jive, Basecamp, Trello, Asana and Teams, a business social network still in development at Microsoft. Essentially, each of these social network environments enables a business to create a searchable, interactive, highly flexible community where management and staff can meet virtually to get projects done.
Each of the companies behind these social networks stresses that it sweats the details when it comes to security, promising that your business secrets will be safe in each company’s secured cloud. The primary advantage for Workplace by Facebook, of course, is that the social network is already a comfortable shoe for millions of business people.
Millions of Millennials grew up on Facebook. And many of their parents and grandparents could not resist its siren call after they realized that Facebook makes it a snap to keep up with family and friends—not to mention old girlfriends and boyfriends.
Not content with providing a social network for more than a billion people, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg now wants to host a private social network for your business.
Workplace by Facebook can be used on smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops. Key features include:
- Groups: The same groups Facebook users now join to form special-interest communities are also in Workplace by Facebook. In the Workplace version, management and staff can use Groups to exchange ideas, photos, images, documents and other files to move a project forward.
- Multi-Company Groups: Businesses interested in inviting trading partners to engage in a shared goal can also use Workplace by Facebook to create multi-company groups. Essentially, you’ll be able to create certain groups that your trading partners can join while still keeping the rest of the groups in your Workplace private.
- News Feed: The lifeblood of many Facebook users, News Feed is also the central communications stream in the Workplace version. There, you’ll receive continual updates on how projects are going, breaking news that impacts the entire company and, most importantly, confirmation on who’s getting the strawberry shortcake for Stan’s birthday.
- Workchat: Much like Facebook’s private messaging, Workchat allows you to engage in private, one-to-one conversations with other people at work. And you can also add other people by invitation only to view images, video and other media that you can exchange in the more public Groups format.
- Events: This feature on Facebook has proven invaluable to announcing an upcoming event to all your friends. It also shows the world everyone who was invited to the event, and everyone who has RSVP’d that they’re going. It’s a great tool for the Workplace version, too.
- Live: One of Facebook’s powerful new features, Live allows you to live stream video of any company event, such as a CEO’s speech to the company at large or the insights of a visiting consultant. It’s also simple to use: Touch a few icons, and you’re broadcasting live to the computer devices throughout the company. And viewers are able to comment on the live stream in real time.
- Search: Pretty much everything in Workplace by Facebook is searchable.
- Notifications: You’ll get notifications from Workplace by Facebook when someone replies to your posts, creates an event, uploads a file or engages in most other forms of social network interactivity.
Not surprisingly, the inaugural version of Workplace by Facebook is relatively inexpensive. Monthly pricing is $3 per user for up to 1,000 active users; $2 per user for 1,001 to 10,000 active users; and $1 per user for more than 10,001 active users.
Before you lunge to create your own Workplace by Facebook community, you’ll want to look over its competitors. Each has slightly different ways of putting together a social network for business—slight differences that may be a big deal for you.
The competitors include:
Slack (https://slack.com; starts at $6.67 per user per month): Already well established in the marketplace of social networks for business, Slack is similar to Workplace by Facebook in that it offers a searchable communications environment where you can post images, videos, messages and more.
Slack also integrates with dozens of third-party apps, including Google Drive, Dropbox, GitHub, MailChimp and Uber. For a look at all the apps that integrate with Slack, check out https://slack.com/apps.
“Slack offers unprecedented internal transparency to organizations of all sizes around the world,” said Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield.
Asana (https://asana.com; $8.33 per user per month): Asana bills itself as a project-management network first and foremost and features task deadlines, dashboards, message prioritization, private groups and more. Third-party apps that work with Asana include Google Drive, Slack, Hipchat and MailChimp.
Joe Dysart is an internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan.
Jive (www.jivesoftware.com; starts at $5 per user per month): Billed as collaboration software, Jive features include a news stream, executive blogs, overall analytics, community sentiment analytics, discussions, document collaboration, search, events, community managers and an employee directory. It also integrates with a number of third-party apps, including Salesforce, Google, Dropbox, MS Sharepoint and Office 365.
Microsoft Teams (www.tinyurl.com/microsoftteamchat; free with most versions of Office 365): Promised for delivery sometime in 2017, Teams’ primary draw for Microsoft users will most likely be its tight integration with other Microsoft programs such as Word, Excel, Skype, SharePoint and OneNote. Teams is also promising a polling feature that will enable users to seek feedback from a project team on a new idea, new direction or