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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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