US businesses relaxing social media restrictions

Businesses in the US are warming to the concept of letting their staff use social media applications during business hours, according to a survey by online community builder Awareness Inc.

Since last year, the number of businesses allowing staff to access such sites as Facebook, LinkedIn or MySpace in business hours has nearly doubled from 37% to 69%. The tactic seems to be working – 75% of employees of these companies report using social networking sites for business purposes, an increase of 15% on last year.

Businesses reported benefits that included brand building (64%) and enhanced consumer engagement (58%).

Of those organisations who blocked staff from accessing social media sites, 68% said they were concerned about a loss of productivity, while 46% said they were worried about security and the posting of inappropriate content.

Meanwhile, virtually all information uploaded to social networking sites by employees is non-work related, according to a study of over 100,000 hours of employee computer usage by information security services firm Orthus.

The study also suggested that instant messaging applications, particularly Yahoo, MSN and Skype’s messaging function, have overtaken email and the water cooler as a way of sharing inter-company gossip. During the monitoring, 62% of IM communications were between employees of the same company on the same network, while 86% of total content was personal in nature.

“Users are well aware that the monitoring of corporate email is now commonplace and are a step ahead of the controls,” suggests Orthus’s managing director Richard Hollis.

Further reading

Ten outstanding applications of Web 2.0 in business
How the best social media projects are harnessing the power of community and collaboration

Integrating Web 2.0 technologies into the workplace is not always a smooth project

Find more stories in the Collaboration & Messaging Briefing Room

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