[[updated December 23, 2016]]
At the end of 2014, Facebook announced a new mystery product: Facebook at Work. Shortly after the announcement, the app went into a closed beta. And then…. silence.
Finally, in October 2016 the mystery product, now called Workplace, opened up to the public.
The Workplace versus LinkedIn showdown was finally approaching.
In this post, I’m going to cover exactly what Workplace is, how it relates to LinkedIn, and what you need to know about it.
Workplace v. LinkedIn
LinkedIn is full of industry news, pictures of smartly dressed professionals, career development advice and its very own job board.
It helps job seekers research prospective companies. It makes it easier for recruiters to identify and discover potential talent. And, most importantly, it lets you keep in touch with fellow professionals in the one place online where Aunt Daisy won’t post an embarrassing baby picture of you.
It’s all about the work.
Facebook, on the other hand, is filled with cat pictures, top 10 articles, snaps of that person you went to high school with and constant Candy Crush requests from the uncle you met at a family gathering five years ago.
Company pages on Facebook tend to be lighter and a little bit fun. There are personality tests, listicles, pictures of people doing volunteer work and wearing goofy Halloween costumes.
It’s about the human connection. The shared fun.
LinkedIn pages are about staying informed and up to date. If your LinkedIn page is your company at a fancy cocktail party, your Facebook page is the after party where the real fun happens.
The two aren’t at war; they complement each other.
That was before Facebook announced Workplace.
So what does Facebook’s sudden interest in the workplace mean for LinkedIn?
Is Workplace in competition with LinkedIn?
Naturally, the mysterious beta and lack of information sparked a lot of debate, discussion and rumors! The most prevalent one was that Facebook was moving in on LinkedIn’s turf.
And so, for the better part of 2015, a huge number of major news outlets including Forbes, Time, The Guardian and Fast Company reported that Facebook was coming for LinkedIn. And, on their side, LinkedIn executives like Ariel Eckstein were preparing for the fight.
But, when Workplace finally made its entrance in October complete with a brand new name, it seemed to put some of those worries at bay.
The two platforms appeared to have very little in common — at least for now.
What exactly is Workplace?
Despite the original expectations, Workplace isn’t just Facebook in a clever disguise.
It is a collaborative workflow platform. It allows users to work in teams, schedule projects, share files, break off into groups and communicate in real time via Work Chat.
What makes Workplace really stand out is its familiarity and integration. Unlike a lot of other scheduling and collaboration software, it has a low entry barrier because most people already use the interface on a daily basis.
Here is how Facebook describes the basic features of Workplace.
But what about my private Facebook account?
One of the biggest concerns I heard was the meshing of the personal and the professional. Would your work team see just how many pictures of your cat you post?
Facebook resolved that by keeping the two completely separate. Your Workplace account and your Facebook account never have to meet. They are hosted on separate websites and use separate apps.
All they share is the familiar interface (and you.)
Workplace is a subscription service, starting at $3 a month per active user, and includes a 3 month, zero commitment trial period.
As far as workflow apps go, this is the cheapest one I’ve ever come across. Facebook’s sheer size and name recognition, allow it to make a move its competitors can’t afford. And, because Workplace is a paid service, it’s completely ad free.
How will Workplace affect LinkedIn?
This is where things get a bit complicated.
As it stands at the moment, at least from the outside, Workplace and LinkedIn aren’t in direct competition.
Your Workplace account lets you interact with people inside your company but it doesn’t provide the kind of wide angle professional networking across industries that’s available on LinkedIn.
However, Facebook is in the process of making some changes to its business pages that are being tested across select accounts.
TechCrunch reported spotting a Job tab appear on its Facebook page. They reached out to Facebook and a representative confirmed that this is something they are currently experimenting with.
Up until now, the only way to advertise a job opening was by posting on your businesses page and promoting the post through Facebook ads.
This foray into recruiting is definitely a move toward LinkedIn’s territory. And if Workplace was to keep its price point and offer a recruiting solution, it will be a potentially crushing blow to LinkedIn’s paid services like Premium, Business Plus and Recruiter Lite.
How does this affect you?
Facebook hasn’t announced any official plans to turn Workplace into a networking platform and, as far as I’m aware, LinkedIn don’t have any current plans to develop workflow or productivity software.
LinkedIn is still (for the most part) free from click bait and designed specifically to create and nurture business connections, discover future clients and recruit amazing team members.
On the other hand, Workplace is there to help you collaborate on projects once you’ve already built the connection and are a part of the team.
But the future remains a mystery. If we’ve learned one thing, it’s that Facebook’s team is incredibly ambitious.
What do you think? Do you think a Workplace versus LinkedIn war is still in the cards? Let me know in the comments below!