Using Workplace by Facebook as a social network
Facebook at Work is Workplace by Facebook and available for general use. It is the business version of Facebook, intended for internal communication. Dept has been approved as one of 400 beta testers around the world. Exciting news, not just because we have been chosen by Workplace to help launch a brand new culture, but because we will be the first digital agency to test out the platform.
Before you read on, let’s start with a bit of context. As a network, we have experienced tremendous growth over recent times: we are now made up of seven companies in five different countries and, in the past year, have gone from 150 to 400 employees. Dept is the overarching brand that keeps the show on the road, puts project teams together, takes charge of overheads and is responsible for the collective culture.
Clearly, as a digital agency we are surrounded by the latest technology all day every day. So, lots of us have got the new iPhone 7, we are busy experimenting with virtual reality and most of you follow the latest happenings via Snapchat and Instagram Stories. Our whole job is to work out which technologies are useful for our clients and which aren’t. This also means we have got used to having the very best user experience, at all times and in all places. We want to be able to work with the same amount of ease whether we’re in the office, with a client, or sat at home on the settee. To this end, we work with cloud services wherever possible; constantly work in Google Apps, save everything in Dropbox and, personally, I find it’s just as easy to communicate with a colleague by e-mail as WhatsApp.
But, up to now, there’s been a gap in terms of internal communication. Our intranet bit the dust a couple of years ago and currently a few of us communicate through Yammer out of necessity. And then came the first murmurings about Facebook at Work, and we were selected as one of the beta partners. A unique opportunity indeed! Below we share our initial experiences of using the system.
Workplace starts with plenty of tips and video clips to show you what you can do with the platform. Based on these, we put together these five simple steps to show you the people at Dept how we planned to use the platform:
How we have set it up:
- In the group ‘Everybody at Dept’, you can post things we all should know. Like a blog you wrote, a project that went live, a new client you scored etc.
- In the groups ‘Technology’, ‘Data & Media’ and ‘Creativity’ you can post all things expertise related that could be interesting for other Depsters. Like interesting (external) news, blogs, articles, podcasts etc.
- We have the group ‘Dept in the News’ the title says it all 😉 This group will be managed by the marketing team.
- We have Work chat (which is totally awesome and basically trumps Hipchat & Slack) so go ahead and chat with each other and in groups!
- We have an event agenda right here, where we will keep you informed about our events, and that also will be the place to register yourself.
Let it go!
Facebook has the welcome benefit that the business — like the personal — version runs on the principle of self-organizing communication, since anyone can post anything. Communication is no longer limited to a select group who can ‘mail all’. No distinction is made between organization, label or country. Added to this, we all know how the platform works since it’s a clever copy of your personal Facebook page. So, over recent months we’ve mainly been learning to get stuck in and use the familiar layout and features.
We launched the platform by following these four simple steps:
- It’s important that you make sure your account is updated with a nice profile picture and the proper (contact) information.
- Secondly, make sure to install FB@Work on your mobile. How? Grab your phone, go to this link and follow the instructions.
- Now you can discover FB @ Work for yourself and start sharing/liking/commeting!
- Please wait until next month before you are setting up your own groups and events, as we would love to keep it clean and simple at the start.
And then we were online. We could see that our colleagues in the UK were just finishing their lunch, we read some fascinating blogs that had originally got lost in the mail inbox jungle and we got some useful updates on office matters and caught up with introductions of new staff members. Everyone is free to share whatever they think could be of interest to their colleagues. Clearly, providing it’s not discriminatory or offensive 😉
As Workplace is rolled out, we have asked a few people to get more information about the system out there. So, HR and Recruitment are helping to sustain the People News group, Marketing is taking care of the Dept in the News group and Office is in charge of everything to do with the Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Manchester, Bostonand Zaragoza groups. The strategists and leads maintain the inspiration groups for Data, Tech and Creativity, and the Banter group takes the reins on Friday afternoons. As a consequence, the news feed is currently a nice mix of social, fun and business items.
4. Embedding the system
The biggest issue, of course, is seeing that people do actually use the platform. The merger of seven agencies under the Dept label means there are currently a whole range of communication systems being used that people simply turn to on auto pilot. So, half of us chat on Slack, while the other half uses Hipchat and Google Hangout, updates are put on Yammer and WhatsApp remains a useful tool just to check something quickly. In the context of FOMO, we have decided not to send out an internal newsletter anymore and we have moved much of our standard mail-to-all traffic to Workplace. This means important management updates and presentations will now be distributed via the platform.
At this moment in time, 95% of all ‘Depsters’ have activated their Workplace account and 90% have updated their company profile. In the dashboard you can see exactly how many and which colleagues use the platform, but also where you need to focus your attentions in terms of engagement. For example, we see that at the moment (only) 57% actively use the mobile app.
Looking back over the posts that scored best in terms of engagement, we find that congratulations on successful pitches and awards are flying about all over the place, that new projects arouse a great deal of interest and that new colleagues receive a warm welcome. The top scorers were the photographs and videos of the company outing in September. So, for us Workplace primarily seems to be a platform for celebrating successes and to post reminders of great outings, pitches and Friday afternoon get-togethers. It is a tool that has significantly cut the e-mail traffic within Dept and — probably most important of all — blurred the boundaries.
After a couple of months of using Workplace we can conclude that it has become an important internal communication channel for us. A replacement for e-mail? A new database? No, but it does help avoid fragmented communication on different platforms. Communicating easily and clearly with many different internal parties spread across different locations is a challenge for us and is of key importance. Workplace represents an efficient way to inform everyone at once and saves a tremendous amount of time. Not only this, we are now looking to see whether we can move our Dept Wiki to the platform in future.
It is clear that Work Chat — the special Messenger app — is not getting as much use as we initially thought it would. This is mainly because there are so many other Messenger apps in circulation. We are continuing to work on engagement, since here too it’s a question of trying out new things and continual improvement, in part because Facebook is constantly bringing out new services and features. But, fortunately, that’s something we’re all used to 😉