Facebook is testing a new product for the workplace, Facebook at Work—basically a second Facebook that you can only use with coworkers. It’s designed for communicating and collaborating on work projects, and nothing bleeds over to your personal Facebook account.
Will it catch on?
One factor in Facebook’s favor: Millions of people are already using Facebook at the office, either for work or to goof off. Last December, for example, 36% of Facebook visitors in the US using desktop computers visited from a work computer, according to comScore.
Chartbeat, which measures real-time traffic for many of the most popular websites, provides another look at people’s Facebook habits. As this chart illustrates, Facebook desktop traffic peaks during the workday, while mobile traffic rises in the evening.
Is that enough to entice corporations? While more than a billion people already know how to use Facebook, there are still questions. These include whether companies will trust Facebook with their business secrets, whether they’ll think of Facebook as a serious-enough tool to make it part of their work culture, and whether it will solve enough problems or add enough benefits. Some Facebook add-ons—such as letting people receive Facebook messages through e-mail—haven’t become wildly popular.
But it’s easy to see why Facebook wants to do this. It already commands a huge share of people’s personal communication, so work is a logical place to expand. Slack is the latest startup to show that web-based business communication tools, when designed and priced correctly, can take off quickly.
And if Facebook could eventually charge companies money for Facebook at Work, it would provide a new stream of sales growth—and help diversify its business away from advertising, which represented 93% of its revenue last year.