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Is Facebook at Work the 'killer app' for enterprise social networks?

Facebook at Work is going where others have trod. Will the new enterprise social networking tool fare better than its predecessors?

In mid-January, social media giant Facebook launched a public pilot of Facebook at Work, a social networking tool for companies to use to communicate and collaborate internally.

Enterprise social networking applications like Jive and Microsoft Yammer and even Salesforce.com's Chatter have been trying to sell enterprises on a Facebook for workplace communications for some time, and apps like Chatter mimic the Facebook interface. But companies have been slow to adopt these applications -- or have adopted them to a lukewarm employee reception. Workers often find that these applications are just "one more thing" to have open on their desktops rather than an application that is woven into existing core work processes.

"We have been hearing about workplace collaboration for years," said Ron Miller, an enterprise technology reporter and content management expert, who talked about the prospects for Facebook at Work in this SearchContentManagement podcast. "It has tremendous potential, but it's been hard to implement."

Facebook at Work has the advantage of being a known quantity for consumers in their personal lives -- by late 2014 Facebook had 1.35 billion users -- so Facebook at Work could gain traction among workers.

"What Facebook at Work offers is a familiar tool for the desk," Miller said. But there is also a question about whether it will be easy for Facebook to separate consumer and worker personas -- and do so such that workers don't make a mistake in a rushed moment.

There is also a question about whether Facebook at Work can monetize this application and give it legs the way it has its consumer-based application. Targeting ads may be a more difficult proposition for Facebook at Work.

For more, check out the podcast.

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This was last published in February 2015

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Do you have reservations about using Facebook at Work, and why?
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Due to Facebook's recent revelations of monitoring and recording Facebook users data and activities, along with Facebook evening they now try to "manipulate" Facebook users through placed ads and postings, we have serious reservations regarding Facebook use in our work environment. As part of our company policy we do not allow any personal Facebook use and have strict rules regarding the use of our company Facebook page. We have a dedicated Facebook page manager.
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I'd agree that there are some concerns related to security/privacy, but if you're looking for an enterprise collaboration tool I think Facebook at Work would be at least worth a look, purely due to its familiarity for the user.
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That said, I'm not super bullish that this will be the 'killer' collaboration app.

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In addition to security, I also wonder about application fatigue. Workers need an application native to the way they work. That is the idea behind some apps, such as Salesforce Chatter and Yammer with the Microsoft suite. Time will tell, though, if integrated collaboration  helps in terms of business productivity and employee adoption.
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Facebook is the perfect tool if you're hoping to share your work with the entire universe.... While it may be dandy for staying in touch with long-lost friends, it's an incredibly insecure platform for business communication.

It's a much better resource for your PR department. It's the place to show off whatever you want everyone to know.
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Facebook is a great communications platform, but in the workplace I believe it could lead to undesirable distractions and security concerns for the company.
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