Facebook is for Business – and it needs to do some B2B marketing

To be honest, I’ve never quite seen Facebook in the realms of the business world, but at the superb CCS Insight Predictions annual opinion and fact-fest last week, I had a revelation.

One of their predictions is that the big player in AI for B2B will be… Facebook. Yes, Microsoft and IBM will all be round the table as well, but Facebook will be the ‘dark horse’ (as CCS’s Nick McQuire termed them).

The CCS Insight prediction was that Workplace by Facebook could use AI to help businesses solve one of the biggest issues discussed round boardrooms across the world – employee engagement.

And here’s why Facebook could be onto a big new thing – Facebook ‘gets’ people. IBM and Microsoft – not so much.

The uncomfortable truth: most employees just aren’t ‘engaged’

Nick McGuire quoted a stat in the US saying 2/3rd of employees aren’t engaged in the workplace. There are many reasons for this, but in my opinion, enterprise tech is one of them. Ever been in a meeting where people are moaning about a recent day spent battling the SAP system or trudging through Salesforce?

Classic enterprise tech was largely designed by technologists for technologists. Facebook has billions of happy ‘users’ because it’s designed for people, front and centre. It engages people.

And then there’s remote working, flexible working, virtual teams – all the stuff that enterprise tech was supposed to make all dreamy and lovely. Let’s face it – that didn’t really pan out.

But where have virtual conversations and engagement been ridiculously successful, regardless of geography or distance? Yep, Facebook again. They get this stuff.

The new thing “Sentiment as a Service”?

And this leads to the really interesting AI angle. Engagement is hard to measure. But who’s better at telling you how happy people are, how they’re responding at an emotively engaged level to information? Take a bow, Zuck.

This means companies could at last start to get a genuine grasp for what employees are thinking and feeling. This is a world away from the annual employee survey that says little and delivers zero change.

But, to make this opportunity happen, Workplace by Facebook needs to be a B2B marketing business.

Which I don’t think it is right now. The Workplace by Facebook website is great (and puts many B2B brands’ websites to shame!) But, it’s got the angle wrong. It needs to focus on one big thing – which is the engagement issue (forget using ‘productivity’ – because every other tech vendor in the history of mankind claims it solves that). Facebook isn’t the same as other enterprise tech vendors, so it shouldn’t try and be.

I spoke to a number of real customers at the CCS Insight events – and they were very articulate as to the value it provided them.Workplace by Facebook has a great opportunity ahead to help companies tackle the engagement problem, and let’s hope they succeed because business, employees and society all stand to gain.

PS: for a concise run down of the rest of CCS Insight’s great predictions, have a look at this post.