Facebook launches Workplace network to help businesses keep in touch
Facebook has launched a corporate communications tool aimed at businesses, non-profits and other organisations.
The social network's Workplace platform is ad-free and not connected to users' existing Facebook accounts.
Instead, businesses sign up as an organisation and pay a monthly fee based on the number of users. The service is free for non-profits and educational institutions.
Julien Codorniou, head of Workplace at Facebook, said the tool's aim is to "connect everyone" in all sorts of workplaces - from desk-bound professionals to on-the-go employees who do not have email or a computer, suggesting baristas at a coffee shop, field workers at a disaster-aid charity or salespeople at a clothing store.
Besides group chats and video calls, Workplace has live video and a news feed, much like the regular Facebook. In a departure from Facebook, the background is grey, not blue.
Users can build profiles and see updates from co-workers on their news feed.
As with the regular Facebook, the company will display posts that are more relevant based on its own formula. The idea is that because more than 1.7 billion people already know how to use Facebook, Workplace, which works much in the same way, will be easy to learn and use.
Organisations have used Workplace, previously called Facebook At Work, on an invite-only basis for the past 18 months.
Facebook says more than 1,000 organisations use the service, up from 450 six months ago.
They include Oxfam, the Royal Bank of Scotland, soup maker Campbell's and the holiday site Booking.com.
The tool itself has been in the works for much longer - it is based on an internal service that the company's own employees have been using for almost as long as Facebook has existed.
Facebook said the top five countries now using Workplace are India, Norway, the US, UK and France. Workplace is available worldwide. About 85% of Facebook's user base is outside of the US and Canada.
For one to 1,000 active users, Workplace will cost 3 US dollars (£2.40) per user per month. The cost declines with more users, so for 1,001 to 10,000, it costs 2 dollars (£1.60), and 1 dollar (80p) for more than 10,000 monthly users. Facebook said it will not charge for inactive users.