Is Facebook’s Workplace the future of business communication?

The network’s foray into internal messaging seems poised to make significant inroads, but the competition is stiff.

Facebook has become so much more than a social network.

Workplace, Facebook’s emerging business-focused chat platform, recently introduced a multi-company group feature that enables users to include people from other organizations. This represents a major step in Facebook’s effort to become a dominant business communication platform.

Workplace’s multi-company groups feature enables PR and marketing agencies to share drafts, images and videos with clients, who can review and approve content with a “like.” Agencies can create groups for each client or project. Marketers could host their influencers on the forums. Other groups might include suppliers, vendors and partners.

“This will be a game changer for advertising and marketing agencies who need an easier way to work with clients,” predicts Emma Wiltshire, community manager for Social Media Today. Businesses might abandon Facebook groups, because Workplace groups offer more tools and resources for collaboration, Wiltshire says.

The new feature has been gaining traction. Workplace has attracted more than 14,000 organizations since launching in 2016.

Pros and cons of Workplace

The platform includes livestreaming and an instant messaging tool. Another benefit is familiarity. With so many users already intimately familiar with Facebook’s interface, staff training should be minimal.

Facebook offers a free version of Workplace that includes livestreaming, voice and video calls and group chat. Its premium tier offers support and more functionality.

As Computer World points out, Workplace is far from the only game in town. Facebook faces stiff competition from established players including Jive, Microsoft’s Yammer and IBM Connections, as well as collaboration tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams and Atlassian Stride.

It’s unclear what impact the Facebook name will have on Workplace’s popularity. Many remain wary about Facebook’s handling of proprietary internal communication. Others struggle to overcome the network’s association with fun rather than work.

Which tool should you choose?

“The best corporate communication tools are the ones that work the best for your teams,” Ben Renner writes on the Employee Communications Council blog.

Renner also advises evaluating all communication tools carefully before making a choice. Whichever software or platform you choose, get everyone on board and stick with the decision, he urges. People hate change, and they will especially loathe having to learn a new system just to communicate with co-workers.

Workplace seems poised to skyrocket in popularity, but who knows? There are plenty of useful fish in the business communication sea.

A version of this post first appeared on the blog.

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