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Can Facebook at Work compete with Slack, Skype and Yammer?

Can Facebook at Work compete with Slack, Skype and Yammer?

Can social media giant's new enterprise-focused social network service win market share?

Facebook is set to launch its new enterprise-focused social network service next month, but can it compete with industry competitors Slack, Skype and Yammer?

Following two years of development, Facebook at Work is a connected workplace platform that will be charged on a subscription-based model, costing businesses a fee ‘per monthly active user’ rather than a flat rate for the whole company - the exact fee hasn’t been disclosed.

As reported by engadget, Facebook at Work uses its stock communication tools including “News Feed”, “Events”, “Groups” and the “Messenger” app, powered by the same algorithm as Facebook, but the service is private and can only be used to internally interact with employees from the same company.

Subscribers can use the social networks tools, such as “Work Feed” to view posts from other colleagues to set tasks and exchange ideas and “Messenger” and “Groups” include audio and video calling options, playing a key internal communication role that could compete with Skype and Slack.

The familiarity of the social network could be the key to the new service's success as the popularity of the network means it could overtake other players in the space such as LinkedIn, Slack or Yammer.

“I think it's going to have a substantial impact on Slack, Yammer or any other system that requires user education,” Telsyte managing director, Foad Fadaghi, said.

“The way it works is exactly the same way as employees would use their personal Facebook.

"Therefore the usability and acceptance of the platform will be substantially higher than other third party platforms where people have to learn another system. It’s just second nature.”

Fadaghi described Facebook at Work as a "very powerful mechanism for internal communications" in the way that it makes employees feel like they belong to something.

“It’s a platform that seems to democratise the workplace,” he said. “Executives find it very easy to use which is a critical challenge with some of the other systems.

"Typically executives have relied on support staff to handle their communications, but with Facebook at Work you start seeing CEOs posting pictures like they would in their consumer life. You start seeing them liking comments, liking posts from staff that are many levels below them.'

Fadaghi noted, however, that there could be some initial hurdles to clear in the early stages of an enterprise adopting the social network.

“There are initial fears from employees that they may post too much personal material, or that other employees are oversharing," he added.

"Another fear could be that employees feel as though they are posting too much and therefore aren’t performing as much in their workplace.

"Another barrier could be that one in five males in Australia don’t do any social networking, so there could be some difficulty to getting people to use it across an entire enterprise. To get to that magic 70 or 80 per cent utilisation will take some effort."

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