Facebook at work. I've never done that. Have you?

But what if Facebooking at work was actually encouraged, maintained by your company itself and used for collaboration?

That could be what's happening in Zuckerberg Land, if you believe the anonymous source who told a reporter last month that the social network's working on a [email protected] platform in its London offices.

Could it Work?

Exact plans were not revealed. This could be an enterprise collaboration type effort. Could be an "at work" version of Facebook that lets you do the basics but avoid getting off task. Who knows?

As for the concept of cloning Facebook in the enterprise, some are not fans.

Bob Zukis, CEO of Austin, Texas-based Bloomfire, an enterprise collaboration provider, told CMSWire that Facebook, in its current form, isn’t a collaboration tool. It was designed, he told us, as a personal communications platform.  

"And even as a communications tool, it’s not a great one in the context of work," Zukis said. "Because there are already better communication options that employees have in the workplace that are more effective at helping them get their jobs done -- email, the telephone, meetings, etc. The promise that you could get rid of email with a Facebook-like communications thread was flawed from the beginning."   

Microsoft's Yammer and Salesforce Chatter come to mind when talking about "Facebook in the enterprise." (I use Yammer, and I usually get a snarky comment from the wife during a workday when I'm on it: "Working hard on Facebook?" she will "ask" me).

"We’ve seen that merely cloning Facebook, which is what the early social enterprise software firms did, and hoping this is something employees find useful to get things done, didn’t work," Zukis said. "Employee adoption with these tools can be very low. The one thing employees are good at is ignoring tools that don’t help them get their jobs done."

We've Heard This Before

Alan Lepofsky, vice president and principal analyst for Constellation Research, pointed out that many companies in the early days of social business promoted their collaboration platforms as "Facebook for the enterprise." He cited social business ventures like Socialtext, IBM Connections, Jive and Yammer.

"So it's no surprise that eventually Facebook want to build their own offering," he said when told of the possibility of [email protected] "However it's very different to take a consumer tool and convert it to enterprise requirements than to build one from the ground up with the enterprise in mind from the start. Enterprise tools require very different administration, security, compliance and integration features than consumer tools. However if the platform is open enough, there could be a great opportunity for business partners to build those types of integrations."

Learning Opportunities

A good collaboration platform, Lepofsky said, is like the special effects in a movie.

"They are so good you don’t even notice them," he said. "Collaboration should be weaved into people's jobs and the tools they use, not be a separate destination or an complex additional step. This is not Facebook’s expertise. Facebook is good at community, but that is very different than enterprise software."

Application Overload

Alan See, chief marketing officer for CMO Temps, LLC, said his focus area is primarily on B2B organizations that typically have long sales cycles that require thought-leadership content and relationship development during the sales process.

He does have a Facebook business page because he believes you need to have a business presence on Facebook even if you are mainly B2B. His take on social collaboration platforms?

"Internal-only social collaboration platforms are OK and may be useful in certain cases," said See, who was listed as the most influential chief marketing officer on Twitter by both Social Media Marketing Magazine and CEOWorld Magazine. "When I was working with MindLeaders we used Yammer. Getting employees to adopt and actually use the collaboration platform can be difficult though. Think about it: people are already using email, corporate and personal, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Facebook and what else? What happens is that they reach the 'application overload' point and then hit the reject button."

An email to Facebook's media team was not returned.

Title image by Pavel L Photo and Video (Shutterstock).