How to Choose a Social Network for Work

By Mike Elgan Print this article Print
social network for work

With Facebook entering a crowded market for business social networks, the category is legitimized, but the choice for companies is still a hard one to make.

Also, two crucial things are currently missing from the Facebook at Work offering: enterprise-grade security and document sharing.

Finally, Facebook is a world of addictive distractions. The company is touting as a benefit the ability to easily and instantly slip between Facebook and Facebook at Work. By requiring Facebook at Work, you'll be green-lighting the use of Facebook ... at work. That's great for Facebook, but it might not be so great for your employees' productivity.

Come to think of it, LinkedIn might not be so great, either. After all, the main purpose of LinkedIn is to help an individual find his or her next job. That's great for your employees. However, once you mandate LinkedIn at work, the site will be constantly luring your employees to greener pastures.

The way to look at choosing a social network is to avoid the companies whose mission is to take people away from their work—or from their current employer.

Facebook exists to distract people and get them to spend as much time as humanly possible on Facebook, where their data will be harvested and used to enable contextual advertising.

LinkedIn exists to find people jobs.

Your best bet is to explore the business social networks that exist primarily to facilitate communication by supporting real-time chat, asynchronous messaging, document sharing, groups and teams, and external services and formats.

In other words, you don't want a social network. You want a communication and collaboration tool. And that's very different.

One impressive choice is Slack, which I often hear great things about, and which I've found to be highly useful for team communication.

This isn't a comprehensive roundup, and Slack is not my specific recommendation. It's just an example of the kind of tool that will almost certainly benefit your organization more than a social network like Facebook at Work.

The best approach is to test some of the bigger and more popular options (which are likely to still be around in a few years), but avoid the Silicon Valley giants that have other agendas and are entering into the business social space as an afterthought and a way to expand.

Facebook at Work and LinkedIn may evolve to become compelling business tools. But, for now, there are far better options out there.

This article was originally published on 2015-01-21

Mike Elgan, a Baseline contributing writer, is a Silicon Valley-based columnist, writer, speaker and blogger. http://elgan.com/

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