Facebook at Work—Facebook Inc.'s enterprise social network for businesses—is set to roll out in 2016 while taking on established workflow software players like Slack and Yammer. While Facebook will not charge users for the basic level of the service, it will eventually make them pay if they want analytics, apps and customer support for the platform. Wall Street is therefore equally as interested as the tech community in whether Facebook at Work takes off next year.
Today, Weber Shandwick is the first global marketing agency to partner with the Menlo Park, Calif.-based social giant to beta test Facebook at Work. To get a glimpse into what the platform is all about, we asked Adam Clyne, head of digital for EMEA, Weber Shandwick, to explain what he's seen so far and how he envisions his company employing it.
Adweek: Assuming your company demoed the technology, what are its strengths?
Adam Clyne: The Facebook at Work platform has several advantages—perhaps the most obvious is that it's a familiar user experience and environment for most people. The learning curve for adoption is shorter because people generally know how to use Facebook. It's also inherently mobile, which is important for us as a growing global company with teams that collaborate across regions. We're paying special attention to how the platform impacts collaboration on a global scale.
Is the system replacing another program like Slack or Yammer?
Facebook at Work isn't replacing a specific workflow system just yet, but we're hoping it will be a useful tool for knowledge sharing, showcasing great work and connecting our employees around the world. If it's successful, we'll plan to expand the pilot to all employees.
How many global employees will be using Facebook at Work?
To begin, we'll be piloting Facebook at Work with about a quarter of our staff across practices and offices around the world—between 800 and 1,000 people. The pilot will include teams with varied organizational structures and workflows since we're looking at this with two goals in mind—to understand, explore and master the platform so we can advise clients on how to use it when its publicly available, and as a tool to enhance our own highly collaborative culture at Weber Shandwick. So, we want to understand the platform for different types of clients and companies as well as for different groups within our firm itself.
What is Weber Shandwick doing to get all of its employees on the system?
We're onboarding employees into the pilot beginning today. Depending on the office or team, different types of communications are happening—in-office events, webinars, etc.—that are tailored for the different teams and offices around our global network. We'll also have local champions around the network who will oversee onboarding and gather intel/questions.
Will the move require training employees at all?
There are some early "best practices" we've learned from the Facebook at Work team that we'll share with employees as they get started, in addition to our own social media guidelines. But most importantly, the pilot is centered on doing a lot of listening, learning and experimenting from our employees. We're hoping to learn the ins and outs of the platform from them, the experiences they're having, and the best ways they're getting value and ideas out of the platform.
Does Facebook at Work sync to personal Facebook accounts?
Facebook at Work is completely separate from a user's personal Facebook account. The platform allows you to switch back and forth seamlessly, but it is a separate and secure experience.