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Facebook at Work an attempt to gain new users?

January 15, 2015

Facebook recently launched a pilot of its professional version - "Facebook at Work." One has to wonder, can this be helpful as well, or will it only be a drain on employee productivity?

Everyone knows that social media has helped in the success of many e-commerce businesses. Facebook recently launched a pilot of its professional version – “Facebook at Work.” One has to wonder, can this be helpful as well, or will it only be a drain on employee productivity?

Facebook at Work is for colleagues, not friends and family
The social media company wants people to be on Facebook all the time. In addition to increasing the amount of video and news articles in News Feeds that are meant to draw people in, Facebook is also introducing a professional version of the site called Facebook at Work. The new tool is intended to be used to connect with colleagues and professional affiliates. Facebook at Work closely resembles the original site, except for subtle changes to the color scheme, reported Wired.

The idea behind the new product is to increase inter-company transparency and promote dialogue between colleagues. Currently, Facebook at Work will only be rolled out to select partners as a trial version, but the full launch should take place later this year. Reportedly, Facebook has been using the product internally for years. Lars Rasmussen, Facebook’s director of engineering, told Wired about the benefits of the professional version.

“We have found that using Facebook as a work tool makes our work day more efficient,” said Rasmussen. “You can get more stuff done with Facebook than any other tool that we know of, and we’d like to make that available to the whole world.”

What Facebook at Work brings to the market 
According to Tech Crunch, one of the main benefits of Facebook at Work is its ability to filter posts. Companies that frequently use message boards and chatrooms to share professional ideas often encounter the problem of irrelevant comments and distracting content. Facebook at Work will filter posts and prioritize ones that are endorsed by a greater number of teammates. In this way, the portal may serve to improve inter-company communication.

The new site may also pull people away from their smartphones or personal Facebook accounts. It is conceivable that employee productivity can increase if some the staff’s social networking time is replaced with professional networking time. Facebook at Work, as Tech Crunch noted, will have to overcome the stigma of being a distraction. Additionally, given Facebook’s shaky past regarding privacy and security, chief information officers may be reluctant to accept the new product until it has been thoroughly tested for assurances that organizational information will be safe and protected.

“Some people are less comfortable than others using their personal Facebook in the work context,” Rasmussen added, according to Wired. “With Facebook at Work, you get the option of completely separating the two.”

Is Facebook doing this for new users?  
One question asked regarding Facebook at Work is how will the company make money from it. According to Tech Crunch, the new professional site does not have ads. Given that advertising is Facebook’s main source of revenue, there must be another incentive for the company in releasing this product now.

Wired noted that Facebook’s monthly active user base is currently 1.35 billion. Interestingly, growth in new users has slowed over the past year and Facebook at Work may be an effort to reach out to prospective users who are not already on the site. Perhaps the company believes it still has not reached out to the maximum number of Internet users out there with potential to sign up for an account. Perhaps people who do not have personal Facebook accounts have been hiding out in company message boards this whole time!

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