Facebook is a nightmare for most large businesses. Employees routinely divulge sensitive company info and passwords are sometimes incredibly easy to hack. In between posts about new relationship milestones and pleas to support a doggy daycare charity, there are a few business posts - some useful and some that are indiscernible from spam.
While you can post links to topics and generate page views for company info to a wide audience, you almost have to sacrifice your integrity to do so - or at least your business privacy.
These alternatives provide a few extra security precautions like two-factor authentication to make sure your corporate data doesn't fall into the wrong hands. They run only inside a company network (or on a secure cloud platform) for added security, provide tools for searching an entire library of employee docs and news, and encourage real productivity using work group portals over sharing pictures of the kids and an employee's last vacation.
Plus, these tools pull data in from services like Box.net or outlook to make all of the company info available through one main portal - one that doesn't need much attention from the IT staff or outside Web programmers.
Billed as the next iteration of the corporate Intranet, Jive focuses primarily on the great missing piece of the enterprise puzzle: employee communication. In basic terms, the app lets employees search for official company information, documents, and news. For example, human resources can set up a portal for employees to get all of the document they need for expense reports.
Even more important than that, Jive is designed to help employees communicate on the data held in the repositories, posting comments and questions that look and function like a public Facebook post.
One key feature is the ability to connect disprarate systems within a large company - for example, helping employees find Box.net documents posts on Outlook or Evernote, and even the company customer-relationship management system through one main collaboration platform. A bonus is that the employee directory is also easy to use and fast.
2. VMware SocialCast
Offered by the same company that makes the most popular server virtualization tech, SocialCast has the most robust features for large enterprises. At its core, the app lets office workers collaborate on projects, hold "all hands" meetings, and even solicit opinions for employees in a confidential way.
It's essentially a business app to foster more social and collaborative work between teams and departments. Yet, IT admins can still run regular reports on all discussions, documents, and posts to monitor for compliance.
A data purge feature even helps with Sarbanes-Oxley compliance. Hosting options are quite varied - you can choose an on-premise option, hosting in the cloud, or even hosting at a secure facility in Europe.
Yammer deserves credit for paving the way for "next gen" social networking for business. The private collaboration environment provides one of the best and easiest search functions - you can search for any topic or document and find it in fewer clicks.
There are Yammer Groups that are focused more on a project goal or company objective than on a hierarchy. Employees with access rights to the group can then post questions and comments right alongside the top executives.
An employee can even invite another to collaborate within a group. Like LinkedIn and Facebook, an employee can create a dossier of experience and skills, which is then searchable by other employees (including those running a project and needing that skillset).
The idea of "going social" has a very different meaning in business. It's not about photos of pets or babies. Often, the goal is to make sure everyone in the office knows what is going on, who is doing what, and even which skills you have to help a project success.