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Facebook at Work:
thumbs up or
thumbs down?

Mark Zuckerberg wants Facebook to become an internal communications platform. The social network, which has 1.4 billion users worldwide, is trialling its Facebook at Work app in a bid to conquer the workplace – the one area it has so far been unable to reach out to potential users.

So what does it look like?

  • It’s free to use
  • There are no adverts
  • No user data will be gathered for third parties
  • The News Feed, Search, Groups, Events, Messenger, Photo/Video functions are retained
  • Users ‘follow’ each other rather than become ‘friends’
  • Its colour scheme is different from Facebook’s white and blue
  • Facebook at Work profiles are completely separate from personal Facebook profiles
  • Posts are kept private within a workplace
  • Facebook at Work is a direct challenge to existing tools such as Yammer, Jive and MangoApps, and perhaps an alternative to internal email and intranets.

But critics have been quick to speak out against it.

Some say it’s merely a ploy to ensure you’re spending as much of your life on Facebook as possible. The more time you spend on Facebook, the more of your attention it can monetise – and now it stands to gain a further eight hours of that every day.

Facebook at Work offers nothing that can’t already be achieved on the regular Facebook – so how serious is it really about internal communications?

It remains to be seen whether firms are really going to trust Facebook with sensitive information and confidential conversations, seeing as it has repeatedly changed its terms of use and admitted to running psychological tests on users.

And there’s a strong chance that, because it retains the Facebook name and identity, company executives will simply regard Facebook at Work as nothing more than an extension of employees’ social media use.

However, there’s evidence to suggest that more employees already use Facebook as their primary tool for internal communication – which suggests that Facebook at Work makes complete sense. For many colleagues it would be one fewer service they need to log into.

We’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on how Facebook at Work develops – but at the end of the day, it’s just one of many ways in which companies can engage colleagues in their values and visions. It will never be the only answer to the multi-layered challenges of employee engagement – just one of many platforms that are available for a wider internal communications strategy.