A Dilbert strip once followed Catbert, the head of human resources as he called a person into his office and noted that the person had done nothing for six months but update a Facebook (News - Alert) page. Catbert went on to note that the company had an opening for a marketing manager in social networks, and that the person in question was completely qualified. The end result was not a firing, but a big raise and a promotion. The value of Facebook marketing is almost as hard to understate as it is to quantify, but even Facebook looks to make it a little simpler with a new tool called Facebook At Work.
Facebook At Work is available for iOS and Android (News - Alert), as well as a Web-based version available directly at Facebook itself, and at last report, all involved were available as part of a limited pilot mode. With this system, employers can either establish separate links for employees to use, or employes can link the profiles together to access both work and personal Facebook all from one point. With Facebook At Work, companies essentially can create a social network that's specifically for work. There's a central News Feed mechanism for company events, as well as the ability to stage both individual and group chat. Groups can be set up within the larger overall framework, and events can even be staged where the whole company can be invited to participate.
Facebook isn't alone in the market here, as companies like Microsoft (News - Alert) have been involved in the so-called “enterprise social network” space for some time now, and several other products are on hand to make this a bigger part of the everyday workday ranging from Convo to Slack to Socialcast, and reports suggest even LinkedIn (News - Alert) has a plan to get in on the action, minus the chatting aspect.
Privacy is naturally a concern here, as whatever's posted to a feed can be seen by the entire company. Plus, those who manage the Facebook At Work system are able to access whatever is shared from a work account. But despite these concerns—which likely don't much prove concerns at all for astute users—there's still quite a bit of value here, especially if it's put to work the right way.
What Facebook At Work really has the potential to do is put a face on an otherwise faceless company. While admittedly, there will be a certain amount of skepticism involved—the idea of developing two Facebook profiles, one for personal use and one for carefully-curated employer-friendly use, has been common practice for some time now by some reports—there's also the potential to help humanize a company and make it seem friendlier by comparison. A company that, for example, recently suffered a data breach is more likely to recover customers if the company is perceived as a company who was attacked rather than a company who just didn't care who took what information. Putting a friendlier face on the organization with something like a clearly work-focused Facebook could be a help there. So too could internal dialogue, regardless of where the worker physically is; a purely work-based social network could allow the mobile workforce a means to get more face time at work, and thus improve the likelihood for promotion down the line, as well as the always-valuable sharing and refinement of ideas. Plenty of possibilities follow in this new development, and so it will bear watching over the weeks to come as we see just which possibilities become realities.