Cloud computing specialist Salesforce.com has launched a social network for businesses.
Communities will offer companies Facebook-style tools to engage with customers and partners. The new service builds on Salesforce's social collaboration platform Chatter.
Senior vice president for Chatter Doug Bewsher said Communities was the next step in bringing customers and businesses closer together.
"Today, more than ever, companies need to put customers at the heart of their business," Bewsher said.
"With Salesforce Communities, enterprises will be able to break the boundaries of their companies, connecting them much closer to their customers and partners."
Communities comes packaged with a set-up wizard that allows companies to create separate networks for different occasions. The wizard makes it so businesses can create a public-support forum for customers and a separate network for partner queries.
Salesforce reports that Communities comes with Facebook-style profile builders, real-time feeds, trending measurements and influence barometers.
The new social network is built from Chatter, the business collaboration platform launched in 2009. The original goal of the platform was to more easily connect businesses and employees.
Over time Chatter expanded to offer companies a better way to work with partners. Earlier this year the service began to offer messenger and screensharing tools.
Communities will be offered in a limited pilot capacity later this year and is expected to go wide in the second half of 2013.
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