After spending the last year quietly being tested by over 300 select organizations, Facebook's enterprise version of its social network, Facebook at Work, will roll out in the coming months, company spokeswoman Vanessa Chan said yesterday.
Facebook at Work is aimed at businesses and their employees, and on the surface looks almost identical to the 'traditional' Facebook layout. It has a scrolling newsfeed, posts that can be 'liked', timelines, groups, events, the ability to follow and interact with co-worders, and a built-in chat service.
"I would say 95 percent of what we developed for Facebook is also adopted for Facebook at Work," Julien Codorniou, director of global platform partnerships at Facebook, told Reuters. Although he did say that you wouldn't be able to play Candy Crush on the platform, as games aren't part of the package.
A lot of companies are fighting to become the number one social network for the enterprise market, such as Microsoft's Yammer, VMWare's Socialcast, Salesforce Chatter, and Jive. But one big advantage for Facebook is that the vast majority of people are already familiar with how it works.
In addition to all the features and options Facebook at Work brings from the consumer version of the site, the company is also developing exclusive products for this professional version, including security tools, Codorniou said.
Those using Facebook at Work will have their business and personal profiles kept separate, so what they share on their work account will only be seen by people in the company and anything they put on their personal account will only be visible to their friends (based on privacy settings).
During the last 12 months of its testing phase, Facebook for Work has been a free, 'invite-only' service. Once it's launched and open to all companies it will still be free, but Facebook plans to charge "a few dollars per month per user" for premium services such as analytics and customer support, a company spokesperson said.
Some of the companies that have been beta-testing the service include Heineken, Royal Bank of Scotland and jewelry firm Stella and Dot. French resort company Club Med plans to offer Facebook for Work to all its 13,000 employees through summer 2016, according to Anne Browaeys-Level, Club Mediterranee's chief marketing & digital officer.
If the service proves popular, it could mean that workers won't have to hide the fact that they're on Facebook from their boss anymore - as long as it's the professional version.