Should LinkedIn be worried about ‘Facebook At Work’?

Daniel Rae - 16/06/2016 - 4 mins read - Community Management

Facebook has been trialling one of it’s newest innovations, Facebook At Work, over the past year and has started to roll it out to many organisations after a trial period with a select few partners. But is it something that (now owned by Microsoft) LinkedIn should be worried about?

What is Facebook At Work?

In a nutshell, Facebook At Work is a version of Facebook ‘behind the firewall’, open only to employees of a company which has signed up. Features familiar to users of good-old regular Facebook are there - the news feed, groups, chat (Messenger) and events. On top of that, there’s improved search functionality and a new Community Centre feature that lets admins check community metrics such as top contributors and employee activity.

If you work for a large company that has multiple office locations or geographical sites, finding the right people and keeping track of conversations, projects and files can be tricky. If all of that is in a single cloud-based service with a familiar, intuitive interface, then that’s surely going to at least improve communications if not productivity too.

Is it a competitor for LinkedIn?

There has been a lot of chatter on social networks about Facebook At Work becoming a “LinkedIn killer”. That’s a view I disagree with.

LinkedIn is a public social network for professionals and doesn’t have much competition in that space. It serves a purpose for connecting with fellow professionals, recruitment, and lead generation, sales and marketing in a predominantly B2B setting. This week’s sale to Microsoft should ensure that LinkedIn has a future!

Facebook At Work is for internal communication and collaboration - the only crossover with LinkedIn I see is where companies use LinkedIn Groups for internal comms, and I think that’s fairly rare.

So which companies should be worried?

Intranet, internal community and communication tools are the ones that should be slightly worried. I’m looking at you Yammer, Slack, BaseCamp, Podio, Sharepoint and Jive!

They all have their advantages and USPs, but Facebook At Work is an interface familiar to 1 in 5 people across the globe - that’s a huge advantage for quick adoption.

What does it have over traditional company intranets?

That familiar interface I mentioned earlier - Over 1.5bn people in the world have a Facebook account - a mind-boggling number! Facebook At Work is almost identical to “classic” Facebook on desktop and mobile, therefore most people will find the Facebook At Work interface familiar, making adoption quick and widespread.

Notifications - of new comments, new files, updates, etc. - are better with Facebook At Work. Most intranet and collaboration tools rely on email as a way to notify users of updates or changes. That’s all well and good, but when busy workers get tens or hundreds of automated emails on top of all of the other email they receive each day, they're fairly easy to miss or ignore and find their way into that special storage folder, the recycle bin. Facebook At Work’s notification system is almost identical to Facebook’s - you’ll get notifications when logged in to the desktop client and, depending on your configuration, will get app and push notifications to your mobile device too. Having used Facebook for almost ten years, I’m now conditioned to check the top right of Facebook when on a desktop or the app icon when on my mobile - this would be no different when using Facebook At Work.

The Mobile App is a great benefit. It allows an organisation’s employees to access company information, a staff directory, chat to colleagues, share updates and collaborate on projects, all from a mobile or tablet. One of the biggest challenges many large organisations have is to instil a culture of collaboration across multiple sites and employees. And when your employees aren’t desk-based, this is multiplied. Facebook At Work could potentially solve this issue completely.

Who’s using it already?

During its test-phase, they’ve recruited a huge variety of companies to trial the service, including a couple of our own clients. As well as Facebook themselves, trialists include: RBS (financial services), Club Med (travel), Weber Shandwick (creative agency), Heineken (drinks), Hootsuite (social media), and Century 21 (real estate). Since then, more companies, including ourselves as part of the Communisis Group, have taken the plunge. Although in the early stages of adoption and roll out, I can already see the potential benefits.

Take my money!

Steady on, you can complete a sign-up form to express your interest currently, but it’s not available to everyone yet. Expect to see a public launch later in 2016.

Some of our clients

Let's work together