Facebook Enters Enterprise Social Network Space

14 Jan 2015

Facebook has launched a limited pilot of Facebook At Work which allows companies to create their own private social network for their employees. It seems fairly full featured with:

This last feature seems in direct contradiction to Mark Zuckerberg’s thoughts in 2009 when he said:

“You have one identity,” he says emphatically three times in a single minute during a 2009 interview. He recalls that in Facebook’s early days some argued that the service ought to offer adult users both a work profile and a “fun social profile.” Zuckerberg was always opposed to that.

“Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity”

(The Facebook Effect, David Kirkpatrick, Chapter 10: Privacy)

I imagine he might argue that these profiles are different as they are only for those inside your company. However more likely I think is that with the success of LinkedIn and all the internal enterprise social networks, Zuckerberg may have changed his mind.

Facebook faces an uphill battle in gaining the trust of companies; many of which currently block their employees using Facebook on their networks. This may be overcome if Facebook At Work offers a much slicker experience than existing enterprise social networks. If users are hooked then companies might have to work hard to stop their employees using it.

This space has lots of competition and is developing fast. As TechCrunch puts it:

The product puts Facebook head-to-head with the likes of Microsoft’s Yammer, Slack, Convo, Socialcast, and a huge number of others who are trying to tackle the “enterprise social network” space. Even LinkedIn conveniently let drop last night that it too was looking at building a product for coworkers to communicate and share content

To Salesforce’s credit they announced Chatter in 2010 (Dreamforce pitch video). It wasn’t the first enterprise social network but it was one of the early ones. At the time this was reported as “The Facebook for business”.

Today looking at the screenshots of Facebook At Work, Salesforce’s Chatter has never looked more out of date.