Facebook is expanding its workplace social network to hundreds of companies

Facebook will expands its business-oriented site, Facebook at Work, to hundreds of more companies after a nine-month trial period, the company announced today. Facebook at Work, which started its pilot program in January with up to 100 businesses, may be released as a freemium product by the end of the year, according to Recode.

Facebook at Work looks identical to the standard Facebook, but is used to communicate with coworkers. Facebook’s primary target is popular San Francisco startup Slack, which makes chat software designed to cut down on email. Slack, which boasts more than 1 million daily users, is leading a trendy attack on email that offers employees a better designed and more powerful way to stay in constant touch with one another. Slack has caught on with media organizations and tech companies, ousting competitors like Microsoft-owned Yammer, HipChat, and Convo that have long advertised themselves as versions of “Facebook for work.”

HEINEKEN IS ONBOARD

However, Facebook at Work’s one advantage is ease of use. Because the service is designed just like the Facebook most of us know, it doesn’t have as steep a learning curve. “If somebody comes into the company, they know how to use this tool from day one,” Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes, whose company is part of the pilot program, toldRecode. “So training cost is zero. That’s important.”

Facebook at Work is secure and separate from a user’s personal Facebook account. It’s also designed to host sensitive company information, so corporate secrets don’t make their way to the wider internet. Dutch beer-maker Heinekin’s US office and Latin American retailer Linio, among others, participated in the pilot program and will continue using the service. Both firms will ramp up the number of employees using Facebook at Work to test how it functions as a company-wide tool.

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