Facebook is remaining hush-hush on reported plans to develop a workplace version to compete for a share in the corporate social networking market.
The planned new product ‘Facebook at Work’ will allow users to chat with colleagues, connect with professional contacts and collaborate over documents.
The work-related product will build on the company’s success as the world’s most popular social media platform, using Facebook’s traditional tools such as news feed, messaging and group discussions.
The new site, according to the Financial Times, will reportedly look like Facebook but will allow users to keep their personal and professional profiles separate.
Facebook currently has an estimated 1.35 billion users who log on at least once a month, with two thirds logging on daily.
The proposed new product would compete directly with LinkedIn, the social network for professionals which has a reported 90 million active users.
The professional platform could also challenge Google’s drive, email and chat products as well as Microsoft’s Outlook email service, Office software and especially Yammer, the corporate social network it acquired for $1.2bn in 2012.
However, security may be a concern for organisations if they were to consider sharing commercially sensitive or otherwise confidential information.
Facebook security was enhanced by the rollout of encryption by default last year, after the Snowden leaks revealed the ease with which the US National Security Agency was able to access users’ data.
Facebook is currently banned in many offices, with some companies concerned about staff engaging in personal social networking. If the new product was successful, it could result in employers encouraging the use of Facebook.
Facebook generates the majority of its revenue from advertising so it’s unlikely to charge for the new product, at least initially. Instead it will benefit as the increased time people spend on the website will translate into increased ad revenue.
Social media is used extensively for business purposes in Ireland with recent CSO figures revealing 46% of enterprises now use social media to connect with customers.
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