Earlier in the year, Facebook announced Facebook at Work, and since then it has been available to a select few companies. As the testing phase is nearing its end, the company is ready to launch the product on a larger scale, but also a freemium version by the end of the year.
Facebook itself has been using a version of Facebook at Work for several years, but reports of the platform have been going around for nearly a year and a half. Up to now, only around 100 companies have used Facebook at Work but the beta program is growing daily, and the larger companies out there that have been using it – Heineken for example – have been doing so at a smaller scale. In any case, when exactly Facebook at Work is launched, is anyone’s guess right now.
Obviously, the beta is free, but Facebook is planning on making companies pay for the finished product somehow, and advertising is obviously not on the list of options. In an interview with Re/Code, Julien Codorniou, head of Facebook at Work, explained that
“businesses will start with the free version and pay for extra features or analytics associated with their accounts”.
He also explained that the exact membership model is “still being defined”.
Facebook at Work is almost an exact copy of the real thing, and people sure love being on Facebook, but this is not something that can be relied upon on to make the product a success. With other similar products out there such as Slack or Yammer (which has actually been around for years) Facebook will have look at how it can compete on different levels and how it can offer companies something they can really use. Perhaps even throw in the opportunity to seamlessly migrate from they current internal social networks.
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What else can Facebook at Work offer to companies other than users’ “familiarity” with Facebook? Facebook at Work is currently available as a separate app on iOS and Android, but also on desktop where users can switch between their personal and work profiles. Many company still don’t allow their employees on Facebook during work hours, so it’s unclear how they will be convinced to relax things on that front. Facebook is a real sticking point for companies who don’t want to lose productivity, but I think they will have to realise that this is an unrealistic idea.