Exploring Facebook for Workplace: Consider a private social network for your theatre or circuit

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Fans of Facebook—and there are more than 1.7 billion of them—now have a near mirror-image of the social network they can use for their movie theatre business.

Dubbed “Facebook for Workplace,” the new app offers all the familiar features that have made Facebook the world’s most popular digital meeting place.

The primary difference: Facebook for Workplace enables movie theatre businesses to use the familiar Facebook environment to create an entirely private social network for their employees and trusted trading partners.

“Workplace by Facebook re-imagines business communications by bringing the familiar social experience to the enterprise environment,” says Siddharth Bohra, chief business officer, LTI, an IT service provider.

David Meyer, VP of product at OneLogin, an Internet credentials management company that partners with Facebook for Workplace, agrees: “Today’s modern workplaces recognize that people want to use tools that they are familiar with to collaborate at work.”

Pilot-tested a year before its release last fall, Facebook for Workplace is looking to muscle in on other players already offering social networks for business, including Slack, Jive, Basecamp, Trello, Asana and Teams, a business social network still in development at Microsoft.

Essentially, each of these social-network environments enables a business to create a searchable, interactive, highly flexible community, where management and staff can meet virtually to get projects done.

Moreover, each of the companies behind these social networks stress that they sweat the details when it comes to security, promising that your movie theatre or circuit’s secrets will be safe in their secured cloud.

Facebook for Workplace’s primary advantage, or course, is that the social network is already a comfortable shoe for millions of businesspeople. Millions of Millennials grew up on Facebook. And many of their parents and grandparents could not resist its siren’s call after they realized Facebook makes it a snap to keep up with family and friends—not to mention old girlfriends and boyfriends.

Key features movie theatre businesses will find in the Facebook for Workplace environment—which can be used on smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops—include:

Groups: The same groups Facebook users now join to form special-interest communities are also in Facebook for Workplace. In the Workplace version, management and staff can uses Groups to exchange ideas, photos, images, documents and other files to move a project forward.

Multi-Company Groups: Movie theatre businesses interested in inviting trading partners to achieve a shared goal can also use Facebook Workplace to create multi-company groups. Essentially, you’ll be able to create certain groups that your trading partners can join, while still keeping the rest of the groups in your Workplace private.

News Feed: The lifeblood of any Facebook user, News Feed is also the central communications stream in the Workplace version. Here you’ll receive continual updates on how projects are going along, breaking news that impacts the entire company, and most importantly, confirmation on who’s getting that strawberry shortcake for Stan’s birthday.

WorkchatMuch like Facebook’s private messaging, Workchat allows you to engage in private, one-to-one conversations with other people at the theatre—or across the entire movie theatre chain. Plus, you can also add other people by invitation only while you’re exchanging all the images, video and other media that you can share in the more public Group’s format.

Events: This is a feature on Facebook that has proven invaluable to announcing an upcoming event to all your friends. It also shows the world everyone who was invited to the event, and everyone who has RSVPed that they’re going. It’s a great tool on the Workplace version, too.

Live: One of Facebook’s powerful new features, Live allows your movie theatre or circuit to livestream video of any company event—such as a CEO’s speech to the company at large, or the insights of a visiting consultant. It’s also simple to use: Touch a few icons, and you’re broadcasting live to the computer devices throughout the company. And viewers are able to comment on the livestream in real time.

Search: Pretty much everything in Facebook for Workplace is searchable.

Notifications: You’ll get notifications from Facebook for Workplace when anyone at your business replies to your post, creates an event, uploads a file, or engages in most other forms of social-network interactivity.

Not surprisingly, the inaugural version of Facebook for Workplace is relatively inexpensive. Monthly pricing is $3 per user for up to 1,000 active users, $2 per user for 1,001 to 10,000 active users, and $1 per user for more than 10,001 active users.

But before you lunge to create your own Facebook for Workplace community, you’ll want to look over its competitors. Each has slightly different ways of putting together a social network for business—slight differences that may be a big deal for you.

Those competitors include:
* Slack (starts at $6.67/user/month): Already well-established in the social network for business marketplace, Slack is similar to Facebook for Workplace in that it offers a searchable communications environment where you can post images, videos, messages and more.
Slack also integrates with dozens of third-party apps, including Google Drive, Dropbox, GitHub, MailChimp and Uber. For a look at all the apps that integrate with Slack, check out: www.slack.com/apps.
“Slack offers unprecedented internal transparency to organizations of all sizes around the world,” says Stewart Butterfield, Slack’s CEO.

* Asana ($8.33/user/month): Asana bills itself as a project-management network first and foremost, and features task deadlines, dashboards, message prioritization, private groups and more. Third-party apps that work with Asana include Google Drive, Slack, Hipchat and MailChimp.

* Jive (starts at $5/user/month): Billed as collaboration software, Jive features include a news stream for businesses, along with executive blogs, overall analytics, community sentiment analytics, discussions, document collaboration, search, events, community managers and an employee directory. It also integrates with a number of third-party apps, including Salesforce, Google, Dropbox, MS Sharepoint and Office 365.

* Microsoft Teams (free with most versions of Office 365): Promised for delivery sometime this year, Teams’ primary draw for Microsoft users will most likely be its tight integration with other Microsoft programs such as Word, Excel, Skype, SharePoint and OneNote. Teams is also promising a polling feature, which will enable users to seek feedback from a project team on a new idea, new direction or other query.

* Still other business social-network environments to evaluate include Basecamp, Trello and Wrike.

Joe Dysart is an Internet speaker and business consultant based in New York City Voice: (646) 233-4089. E-mail: joe@joedysart.com. Web: www.joedysart.com.