Not so long ago Facebook announced it was making a move for a slice of the productivity market pie with their ‘Facebook for Work’ platform, appropriately named ‘Workplace’, which aims to improve communication within organizations as well as connecting different organizations together. This enables users to stay connected wherever they are. But can this be used to connect with your channel partners to replace other traditional communication methods?
‘Workplace’ embodies all the traditional Facebook features such as a news feed, the creation of sharing in groups, Facebook live, reactions, search, trending posts, as well as being able to communicate with colleagues in real time. Users however won’t be allowed to use their personal account, meaning they will need to set up separate Workplace account. Is this a bold move too far or have they hit on something that’s quite genius?
Does it fit?
Traditionally, channel marketers mainly focus on Twitter and LinkedIn to promote their brands message to partners, with Facebook appearing less appropriate for B2B interactions and more for pleasure. And for communication purposes many companies will have either created a LinkedIn group for communicating with their colleagues/channel partners or alternatively and more likely will have access to a portal, forum or intranet to house all their communication needs. This I am sure you agree sounds the more secure, easier option. So with this in mind where is this tool expected to fit and can it improve communications to channel partners?
Is there an opportunity for organizations to replace existing internal messaging systems and integrate this platform into their communication stream? The need for portals to house tools, and other pivotal resources is steadily becoming more and more important. So, can ‘Workplace’ be integrated into existing portals to replace company forums or Intranets?
6 questions you should ask yourself
- Is it cost effective? – It’s no big secret that getting entire teams to sign-up to the latest productivity tool is no easy task. However, due to the familiarity of Facebook, the adoption rate could potentially be a lot higher, being very effective, when compared with Intranets or Portals.
- Are your channel partners of the social media generation? The interesting thing about channel marketers is that in my experience, their social media knowledge and footprint tends to be rather limited. For this reason, will this audience find workplace easier to use, over familiar intranets, forums or professional networking tools? In my opinion no.
- Will I need to invest in other products? – Workplace, other than forums will not really replace your current tool investments. Its single sign on ability means that it can be integrated within your portal, but you will still have to invest in a portal, intranet and any other communication methods you currently use. For this reason you probably won’t save any money from using this tool.
- Is it scalable? – The platform is hugely scalable; it can develop and grow as fast or as slow as your business. However, will it really be for global brands who sell indirectly to customers and have a multitude of partner tiers?
- Can users be synchronized with other data platforms? The main challenge I come across day after day is data! Tell me now, do you have the same number of partners signed up to your portals, forums, email newsletters and social media amplification tools? I bet the answer is no! So, unless data can be transferred straight into workplace how can you begin to know who to enable to use this tool? And how can you ensure they all sign up to use it? If they don’t, it will mean you’re not communicating with all your channel partners, requiring you to communicate your message elsewhere as well. This is where it becomes a challenge to manage!
- Is communication functional? – One of Workplaces major benefits is the ability to communicate between organizations, so the potential for vendors to communicate to their channel partners is certainly a possibility. But once again with brands often having hundreds of partners globally, each with their own languages, they will all require their own silos/Facebook group. Imagine having to reply and send a message to every silo separately and knowing that because not every partner has signed up to workplace, a proportion will not even see your content. With this in mind, how can communication ever become consistent? And let’s not forget all your partners will have access to your new feed meaning it is highly likely half of the content won’t even be relevant to them.
So, does Workplace ‘work’ for you and your sales partners?
We can’t ignore what separates Facebook from the crowd is a familiarity that can’t be rivalled and the the user experience is tried and tested.
So yes, the basic technological and theoretical foundations of this social network can be used as internal communication purposes, but at what scale? I can’t deny it doesn’t have some strong features which I’m sure are hugely beneficial for smaller scale, less complex brands with simple data systems. But in my opinion taking advantage of other more targeted tools specifically designed for improving and providing targeted communication for each partner is what should be invested in. After all, who wants to mix business with pleasure?