Backed by Big Brands, Facebook Is Taking On Slack in the Workplace Communication Space

Plus, it's a nonadvertising revenue stream

After 18 months of tests with businesses like Weber Shandwick, Facebook has opened Facebook Workplace—formerly known as Facebook for Work—to all organizations.

In a blog post, Facebook said 1,000 businesses are now on board with the tool that turns the social platform into a business-communication hub, as Slack and others try to shake up office communication. To differentiate itself, Facebook said big brands like Starbucks, Danone and Booking.com use Workplace, and 100,000 groups have been added. It's also rolling out a program called Workplace Partner Program that gives companies including Deloitte, Edelman, TBWA Worldwide and Weber Shandwick the keys to helping set up clients' and companies' offices with Facebook Workplace.

Another differentiator: Unlike Slack, Facebook Workplace is built using the huge platform as a base, meaning employees can use things like live video, reactions and search, and see the site's trending posts all in one place, at work. While Slack has effectively reduced email for companies, it isn't positioned to be such a one-stop shop.

Facebook's business tool comes with a few work-only features, too. A dashboard, for example, pulls in analytics and IT systems. There's also multicompany groups feature that lets businesses chat with other companies, although Facebook didn't say exactly how that would work when it launches in the coming weeks.

Facebook Workplace represents a significant way the social platform can make money from fees instead of advertising. It comes with a three-month free trial after which companies will be charged $3 per person for the first 1,000 users, $2 for up to 10,000 users and $1 each for offices with more than 10,000 employees. The prices are based on monthly active users, requiring staff to use the software at least once a month. To compare, Slack charges businesses $8 to $15 depending on the plan.