Will Facebook prove social media can increase productivity?


Facebook is on a mission to break taboos about social media use at work.

The social network enlisted more than 100 companies to help prove that Facebook can increase productivity on the job by using its newest iteration, “Facebook at Work.”

Those who work in public relations and related fields may view the “at Work” portion as an unnecessary modifier. Social media use is standard practice for most people in communications, but that isn’t the case for every industry or organization.

About 36 percent of employers worldwide still block access to social media, according to a San Jose Mercury News article. In that piece, Queenie Wong writes that communicating with co-workers through Facebook at Work might encourage users to think twice before they post.

A 2014 report by author David Maxfield and Facebook’s learning and development manager, Mike Rognlien, reveals there is untapped potential for social media use in the workplace, even though many company leaders view online networks as disruptive to productivity, Fox Business reported.

Not the only game in town

Facebook at Work certainly is not cornering the market on business-friendly networks. Salesforce has Chatter, Microsoft has Yammer, and IBM has Connections.

Still, Julien Lesaicherre, a Facebook project manager, told CCM that Facebook at Work isn’t just another corporate social network (CSN):

This is not a CSN, but more generally a collaboration or productivity tool. The social aspect is just one part of it. Facebook at Work is larger than an enterprise social network—it includes options such as video calling and screen sharing, which are not available in CSN tools. Many of our major partners who are participating in our pre-launch program have previously deployed a similar type of solution, but these projects have not always functioned well and have shown very low rates of engagement.

Employees at many large and small organizations already use Facebook groups to collaborate, and they often communicate via Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. Lesaicherre says that’s because of the social network’s simplicity, the tool’s power and Facebook’s efficiency on desktop and mobile devices alike.

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Businesses testing Facebook at Work report that employees make faster decisions, gather information more quickly, learn about co-workers in other offices, share updates on projects and get recognized in real time for their accomplishments.

Facebook at Work should be publicly available in several months. Facebook will offer a free version, and it plans to charge for extra features.

Shedding its for-personal-use-only reputation is another step in Facebook’s quest to remain relevant for business and increase its bottom line.

What do you think, Ragan readers? Will business leaders buy in to having their employees on the social network throughout the workday? What are the pros and cons? Please let us know in the comments section.