Socially working on THE social network

Much like clothing, over the years, social media has also gone through fads. Remember AIM (AOL Instant Messenger)? Screen names, buddy lists, buddy profiles – it was great! And then came along Myspace – top 8’s, comments, pictures – even better!  And after that, Facebook – our current reigning king of social media. After a while people have grown accustomed to moving on to the next big thing. Which leads to the question, what will come after Facebook? When Twitter first emerged, some wondered whether or not it would make the leap. And recently Instagram has been making growing strides. Yet in terms of users, Facebook is still far superior. So how is it staying on top?

It’s a social network that is keeping up with our social needs. As both our time on social sites and the platforms themselves have grown, it has evolved that we use social networking in part for socializing, but also in part for specific functions. Our social media accounts allow us to connect with news sources, look up businesses for hours of operations and directions, create and plan events, research topics, find articles, and do a myriad of other things. In lieu of these various capabilities that have become so integrated into our social media experience, Facebook is capitalizing on how users use its platform to get work done by creating a platform specifically for work,  “Facebook at Work.”

According to an anonymous source from Facebook, the company is working to put the social network in the office. While the company itself has refused to comment officially, Ron Miller reports on what he knows about the project via this anonymous source. According to the source, a Facebook enterprise collaboration tool has been tested inside Facebook for the last six months, and is now being piloted by a small group of companies.

In regards to the companies own internal use of the program, the source says, “It’s an incredibly powerful system to spread knowledge.” The new enterprise collaboration tool would be hosted separately from your personal page, but in appearance would be very similar – including a Newsfeed, Messenger, and Groups.

This familiarity could be key for the success of the platform. Miller theorizes that the lack of success for enterprise collaboration tools in the past is that that other tools have forced users to learn a new way of working in spite of that moniker. The difference here is that everyone uses Facebook and is familiar with its functionality, and by transferring that same interface to work, employees would be comfortable using it and it would catch on in a big way.

If the rumors prove to be true, this could be a smart move for Zuckerberg and his team. Group involvement in the workplace is not a potential, but an expectation. Project management requires employees to work via groups, and often requires a multitude of different groups to perform together. Collaboration tools are vital infrastructure to connect with co-workers and even customers.

So while we wait to see what exactly Facebook has up its sleeve. Here is a list of platforms and tools that are great for collaborative sharing and/or editing for projects that involve groups or overview of various people.

Google Drive – Docs, Sheets & Slides

Launched in 2007, Google Docs solved the problem of electronic single editing. No longer do you have to wait for that email with an attached file to start writing and reading. Anyone in a shared document can add, rewrite, and/or comment to one another instantly. We actually use this service every week to write our post.

Dropbox

Dropbox is one of the most popular file sharing and cloud service. With over 300 million users Dropbox allows every user 2 GBs of free storage and then upgradeable individual or team monthly plans.

WeTransfer

We Transfer is a file transfer platform that allows you to send 2GB for free per transaction. This is a great and free option for those who run into the “file is too big to send in email” problem. Your documents are temporarily hosted on their server and a link to the document is sent to the recipient. The recipient can then download the file via the link. This solves the problem of email and the problem of having to share folders on Dropbox for a one time transaction.

Facebook Groups Feature

This feature allows for you to build smaller groups within your Facebook friends. In these groups you can privately share content and converse. The feature visually looks similar to a separate page with its own feed. Both of us have used the group feature and find it particularly useful when we are working with more than three or four individuals. This is also a feature we hope will be seen in Facebook Work.

Now, if you are a big organization or company these small scale sharing platforms might not work for your needs. This is when you can turn to project management and collaboration platforms like Asana and Huddle. They make it easier for larger and smaller groups of people to interact. Check out the Asana and Huddle promo videos to learn more.

In review of what resources are currently available, it seems that Facebook may hit it big if it can successfully combine the tools of syncing, sharing, and editing, with the functionality and popularity of its social network. Even if it is just speculation at this point, the “At Work” platform leaves us with some serious questions. While we understand that its intent is to be used internally, it is unclear how well suited the platform is for acting as public networking account as well. If such capabilities are present will LinkedIn have met it’s match? Currently LinkedIn hold the reigns as the business oriented social network but will it be able to hold it’s professional dominance if competing with Facebook? Facebook at Work is offering a social account + collaboration and editing tools + the benefits of having a superior user base. With such an equation it’s hard to imagine the launch could end up a flop, but user traction will be the ultimate determinant.

Do you currently use any electronic collaboration tools in your job position? How well do they work for your group needs? How would you feel about using “Facebook at Work”? Would you choose a “Facebook at Work” account or a LinkedIn account over one or the other? Why?

-Savannah Valade and Caroline Robinson

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