Stay aHead: SocialCast, Yammer and Facebook at Work
21 Jan 2015
This week Facebook introduced Facebook at Work (or FB@Work): a version of Facebook with a familiar look and feel, but that is specially adapted to help people share relevant ideas within an office or organisation.
Facebook at work is the latest entrant to an already crowded market of “Enterprise Social Networks” (ESNs) all of which help employees work together across the various departments, levels and offices of a company.
Remember the days of sharing interesting work related questions, ideas and news with your colleagues over email? Well I don’t – I interned in 2013 – but I’m told that’s how it used to be done…
As a word of mouth agency we’ve always advocated the importance of not just talking about an organisation, but talking within an organisation. Since early 2009 we’ve been practising what we preach with SocialCast.
As we’ve grown as a company, we’ve been very aware of the risk of becoming segmented by teams, departments and international offices. SocialCast has continued to make it easy for every ‘head to ask a question or share an idea with the entire company – facilitating crucial and fruitful conversations between colleagues who don’t necessarily work closely together from day to day.
On their webpage SocialCast proudly declare that 79% of companies today are using some kind of ESN and boast a massive 25% potential productivity increase as a result. SocicalCast is at the core of 1000heads internal communications and yeah…we love it.
The ESN market is very crowded and SocialCast, although well loved, is not without competition – head over to Mashable for a good comparison of the main contenders.
Microsoft’s Yammer, used by over 200,000 companies worldwide is perhaps the most well-known name in the space. Like SocialCast, Yammer allows employees to follow one another and chat freely across the organisation. Yammer’s big USP is that, thanks to the Microsoft acquisition, it integrates with Office 365 services – helping to bring messaging, collaboration and email together within a company’s existing communication network.
Facebook at Work
SocialCast and Yammer have very similar offerings and both platforms pay clear homage to Facebook in both look and feel. The way users follow, form groups, post, like and comment all bear a striking resemblance – to the point it’s almost surprising that Facebook has taken this long to throw down the gauntlet.
With the introduction of Facebook at Work, employees can now create a work account that is separate from their personal profiles, and which will only allow them to see, follow and communicate with peers within the same company. Questions of pricing and or advertising are still being questioned as well as many other features of this incumbent ESN but from what we’ve seen, the offering seems very similar to existing competition.
So who should you choose?
Frankly, Facebook have done little to innovate – or to help those searching for an ESN provider to discriminate.
Normally the value of a social network is dictated by the size of its user base; a trend that Facebook has benefitted from immeasurably over the past few years. This generally leads to a winner-takes-all effect (i.e Facebook crushing Bebo and MySpace) – but ESNs are catering for a naturally limited group.
There’s still a serious opportunity for an ESN with a little more creativity to come along and blow the big names out of the water. Facebook at Work isn’t it.
The good news? Companies should pick one, any one, and go for it. You can’t expect your employees to be open, social and collaborative with their customers until they understand how to do it amongst themselves.
Our big tip? Ban all-company email lists. Once people are forced to go to your ESN to get essential information (updates on broken toilets, invites to team drinks), they’ll soon get the hang of playing in your social sandpit.