BLOG: Facebook at Work; the real deal or dud?
AKRON (March 2, 2015) — First things first, when I am referring to “Facebook at Work,” I am referring to the actual platform the social media giant launched, not just using Facebook for or at work.
As this platform was rolled out in January and is still in beta testing, it has left a lot of people and companies with many questions. So I wanted to break down the information I have found on it and provide you with some additional resources in case you were interested.
Before getting into the nitty gritty, let's go over a few points from Facebook about Facebook at Work. When using Facebook at Work, users will be using a work account, not their personal account. This means employees will be able to separate their personal Facebook use and using it for work.
Basically, while other companies have tried to create an easier Intranet for business use, Facebook is throwing its hat in the ring. Although the idea has been bouncing around for a while, Facebook is finally pushing it with the platform's beta launch.
As stated in Network World, Facebook's purpose with Facebook at Work is to “replace the corporate intranet, or at least replace some of how employees interact with each other and share information and documents.”
Things for it to overcome
Apps Tech News published “Four things Facebook at Work must do to succeed where others have failed” and I think it's a great read for any business owner thinking about using this new platform.
One of the biggest questions people may have is: How can Facebook — which some employers choose to block from work computers to dissuade employees from accessing — turn into a go-to resource for employees?
It may be hard to backpedal and now tell employees it's OK to use Facebook during work hours. Also, this could open up the flood gates for personal Facebook use.
One other great point the App Tech News article makes is that Facebook has not always been known for its security and if it expects companies to log on with company information, then it may need to up its game so people feel safe using it.
Although there are several points in the article, the last one I am going to detail is that one of the biggest things this platform is going to need is the ability to collaborate and integrate. Meaning, it needs to work with other platforms people use for work. If it does not fit into the fold of business applications already in use, then who is going to use it?
Pros and Cons
Sometimes when in doubt, the best thing to do is make a pros and cons list.
There are quite a few pros with Facebook at Work if the social media site overcomes the above and other objectives.
One of the biggest benefits is that Facebook is widely used, so the user functionality already will be known by many employees. Other similar platforms could have a larger learning process than if a company signed up with Facebook at Work. Additionally, it may be a way to cater to some of a company's younger employees or attract younger demographics to its work force.
Using an interactive platform online for employee communication and development is a great way to show that an employer cares about the work experience of employees.
Small Business Computing touched on many pros and cons about Facebook at Work for a small business.
“Facebook says that Groups, a key feature of the service, could replace the endless back and forth of email with more immediate messaging,” according to the article.
Users could pick and choose the conversations in which they want to participate, which could lead to better productivity.
I thought one of the most interesting ways a company could use the service is not just for the more traditional uses, but also for community outreach or wellness programs, polls, surveys — or even a virtual town hall meeting.
If the Facebook at Work platform is used in these manners, I could see how employees easily could feel more involved in what is going on with their company.
As for cons, there are quite a few cons to consider. Small Business Computing lists workplace etiquette concerns and plenty of other options as two of its top concerns. For instance, Facebook is used for personal relationships, liking photos or posts from people with whom users want to connect. How does this work in the business world? Do users have to connect with everyone in the company? Does an employee need to Like or share every post the boss posts?
Those are questions that may be hard to answer, especially when first starting out.
Ultimately, I would take the advice from Small Business Computing and adopt “a wait-and-see approach” because there are still so many unanswered questions. Another such question is the price. While Facebook technically is free to use, with promoted posts, etc. there can also be a cost involved. It has yet to be stated if Facebook at Work will be a free service or come with a cost.
Do you have an opinion about this story? Do you have some thoughts you'd like to share with our readers? Tire Business would love to hear from you. Email your letter to Editor Don Detore at [email protected].