Social networking for business is officially a thing. Microsoft is doing it with Yammer. Slack is proving social isn’t just for slackers, and Convo is delivering meaningful social networking conversations to savvy enterprises. Similarly Socialcast isn’t exactly a social outcast among businesses, garnering a $9.4 million buyout by VMware. Unfortunately, social didn’t go so well for Google with the recent announcement that Google+ will be splitting off into smaller platforms. And, LinkedIn continues to be the go-to for business professionals.
Into this mêlée of enterprise-focused social networking enters the king of all social networking: Facebook. Hoping to capitalize on the feedback provided by their 1 billion users over the course of over a decade, Facebook has launched the beta version of a new app, Facebook at Work, on a very limited scale. The iOS beta version rolled out on January 14, 2015, with an Android version following. Currently, beta testing is reserved for a “small subset” of companies with more than 100 employees.
Realize What It Is and What It Isn’t
Facebook at Work is a social networking app that works just like the regular Facebook, only businesses can set up their own social network, much like users can set up Facebook Groups now. Internally, Facebook has used this platform for about 10 years, sharing documents and collaborating on projects. Employees can choose to link their personal and work Facebook accounts, but the work content and personal content will remain separated, also like Facebook Groups works now.
Though Facebook at Work allows documents to be shared, it does not allow documents to be edited, at least at this stage. A number of other issues are yet to be worked out, such as whether it would be a paid app or utilize advertising to generate revenue. In beta, Facebook Platform is disabled, and users neither pay for the app or deal with ads. Also to be addressed are the issues of connecting Facebook at Work to software that allows for full collaboration on projects, as well as adequate security for business purposes. In other words, it’s not yet to the level of Google Docs when it comes to collaboration and security.
Develop Social Media Policies and Procedures
What does all of this mean for the IT service desk? For now, nothing. Though Facebook at Work could take off like most everything else the company does, it could also crash and burn (does anyone remember Facebook Paper?). It’s too early to sweat Facebook at Work.
With that being said, whether your employees are hiding their smartphones under their desks or openly using Facebook at work, they are using it. It’s time for businesses to address this and (if not embrace it) develop realistic policies for how social networking is to be used at work. This might range from time limits to open company utilization for collaboration and sharing, but enforceable policies need to be in place.
Consider Incorporating It Into or As a Knowledge Base
There is a way to leverage social networking to IT’s benefit. If a knowledge base is part of your overall plan, social networking can fall right into these plans. It is a valuable tool for employees to get fast and easy answers from coworkers and/or help desk workers without having to open a service ticket. Does it fit within your IT service management plans? Maybe, maybe not. But it’s worth a look-see.