Social Media/Management

Businesses missing out by banning social media in the workplace

Management Tineka Smith

09:41, March 7 2012

Businesses should think twice before blocking the use of social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn during the workday.

The iPass study of mobile workers at over 1,100 enterprises worldwide reveals the social media trend for business use continues to increase, with around 70% of mobile workers accessing social media sites during their workday. Over 35% reported using social media sites during their breaks in the day while over 30% said they use it throughout the workday.

The steady rise in social media use comes as no surprise as it provides a way to create and grow connections with customers and prospects, as well as gathering information on competitors and products in specific markets.

Kevin Murray, iPass VP of product marketing, says as the use of social media for personal use has boomed over the past years, it was just a matter of time before engaging on social media sites became practised among businesses.

"Social media has invaded all aspects of the most active and mobile workers' lives. In an age where the second most common way of meeting a "significant other" is through online sites, it's no wonder that social media has become an integral part of our social lives," said Murray. "Social media is beginning to have a similar effect on our business lives. After all, interacting online with colleagues, customers, prospects, and candidates is largely how business gets done today."

Yet, many businesses are banning social media sites, viewing it as a distraction at work and a potential legal headache. But Murray points out that nearly 40% of workers only log on to the sites during work breaks and cutting out social media at work can cause businesses to miss out on the benefits using social media provides.

Courtesy of Andy Woo

"Companies that block the use of social media as a time-waster should think again," said Murray. "Based on how mobile workers actually use it and the amount of time they spend during work hours, it is proving its worth as a productivity tool or simply for a needed break in the day."

Recent research by IronMountain revealed that as many as 74% of businesses have banned social media use. Allowing employees to access their preferred social sites, like LinkedIn and Facebook, during the day helps in creating professional contacts and product feedback. Businesses can also choose implement social media into IT networks.

"Smart businesses can integrate social media into IT systems for activities such as tracking sales leads, and investment in good tools for collaborating and messaging at work prevents employees from using unsanctioned and possibly insecure tools," said Murray.

Creating employee guidelines in using social media during work hours can propel social media as a productivity tool in helping workplace collaboration and professional networking.


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