Facebook took its time getting into the enterprise game but Facebook for Work is finally ready to see the light of day under a new moniker, Workplace. The service has already been adopted by more than 1,000 companies during its 18 month closed beta, and now it is opening up to anyone to use for a monthly per user fee that goes from $1 to $3.
The service is entirely separate from Facebook’s social network, requiring its own login and mobile apps, so you just can’t use the standard Facebook app and toggle between professional and personal profiles. It is also advertisement-free. Facebook won’t scan your postings or communications to serve you ads, hence the monthly subscription fee.
Workplace by Facebook looks very much like the company’s flagship social network. There is a news feed, user profiles, events, groups, and messages. The idea is that since more than 1.7 billion people already use Facebook it’s likely that those signing up for Workplace will be instantly familiar with how the product looks and works — indeed, Facebook credits this decision for the very high engagement rate during the closed beta test.
Among its collaboration-focused features are the ability to create multi-company groups, allowing employees from different organizations to easily communicate on shared projects. There's also live video broadcasts, audio and video calling, and text messaging. Employees don’t need to ‘friend’ each other but they can follow people to see updates from them.
With Workforce, Facebook is entering a crowded space that includes the likes of Slack, HipChat, Microsoft (Skype and Yammer) and Salesforce.com's Chatter service. Facebook is arriving late to the party and might have a hard time luring in users from those services, but a company with its massive reach can’t be easily discarded, and there are plenty of business that aren’t on any collaboration platform yet.
In terms of pricing Facebook is charging $3 per month per user for the first 1,000 monthly active users, $2 per user for teams of 1,001 to 10,000 and $1 a month per user for groups of more than 10,000. It's free for nonprofits and educational institutions.
By comparison, Slack costs $6.67 per user per month and Hipchat is $2 per user per month. Both services also offer a free tier with a more limited feature set, while Workplace won’t be offering a permanent free option beyond a three month free trial.