When you think of Facebook, the first thing that comes to mind is connecting and chatting with friends and is therefore a platform to “fool” around and that’s the way it is for many. While it may be that to you and maybe others, it’s something else to other people and namely businesses and the millions of advertisers who intend that their businesses be seen by Facebook’s 1.71 billion users.
While a portion of these users may be interested in just advertising to users, others want to use it to connect with work colleagues and get updates from their favourite professional Pages. Speaking of Facebook Pages, there are over 45 million small and medium businesses using Pages on Facebook. These businesses have employees (direct or indirect) and these employees may not always be together in one location every time, hence the need for a professional connection like some sort of LinkedIn.
Connecting this category of users professionally is what the newly announced service Facebook Workplace aims to achieve. It’s different from LinkedIn such that it provides employees with tools they need to be productive at the workplace by connecting them online through presentations, live videos among others in the News Feed directly. Maybe once the Microsoft $26.2b acquisition of LinkedIn is complete, then we may begin to see some of Microsoft’s Cloud based enterprise services integrated into LinkedIn directly but as it stands, LinkedIn is a professional social media network that allows professionals connections and interactions. There’s no specific enterprise based productivity service that that it offers at the moment. Its revenue is mainly drawn from subscription services but like I said this could all change in the near future.
Facebook Workplace used to be called Facebook At Work and was opened for testing to over 1,000 businesses in the last 18 months and seeing as Facebook said the service has been largely successful, it decided to open it up to other businesses.
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Like I said earlier, there are over 45 million small and businesses using Pages alone and there are others who don’t use the service but are on Facebook too. In the last 18 months, about 1,000 companies including really big brands like Starbucks and RBS have both tried out the service and have decided to continue with it and these businesses have created over 100,000 groups over the same period.
Facebook has a robust Live/video feature that allows direct video collaborations between colleagues and employers alike.
They are adding an inter-business interactive tool soon that will allow employees of other businesses interact with each other. This would allow them connect with each other and share ideas and eventually do business together
Workplace Partner Program is another cool feature that allows consultancy companies like Deloitte to sign up and manage clients. This tool could very well be useful to consultants who have a number of businesses they help make decisions for growth. They can sign up clients to tools and this means more business to customer and consultant if fully utilised. I don’t want my clients going directly to do this maybe for business reasons or because they don’t have the time or because they don’t know how to use such tools, I could do it for them. It’s all business for this set of people Facebook now calls Workplace Partners. This could see more businesses using Workplace tools in future as well.
Facebook is leveraging on its deep pockets to roll out the service at ridiculously low prices per employee. For example, organisations will be charged $3 per person for the first 1,000 users, and will reduce to $2 for up to 10,000 users and $1 each for organisations with more than 10,000 employees/users. Now compare this to similar services;
Salesforce Chatter ($15/month)
Microsoft’s Yammer ($3-$24/month).
Facebook’s pricing stands out and this could be a selling point for the social network giant. Facebook has been praised over the years for its analytics (Insights) which give businesses a comprehensive look into performance over time. This helps businesses make informed decisions as to how to grow businesses. They have done a good job with Pages over the years and one can only imagine what they have planned for a paid service such as this.