Business owners often struggle with the question of whether or not their employees should be using social media in the workplace. There are obvious reasons why they shouldn’t, but there are certainly potential benefits as well, and unfortunately not a lot of clarity to the matter. So let’s look at this from several different angles.
Security company FaceTime Communications has released results from a survey in which it asked over 500 IT managers and employees about their Internet and social media habits at work. The survey revealed that:
– 79% of workers use Facebook, LinkedIn or YouTube at work for business reasons, and of those business reasons, 54% cited professional networking, 52% said research, and 52% said learning about colleagues were what they used them for.
– 82% say they use social media sites for personal reasons
– 51% of workers use social networks at least once a day
– 62% said LinkedIn was their preferred network for business purposes while 55% said they prefer YouTube for personal reasons.
Based on this survey alone, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the amount of people using social media for business reasons and those for personal ones. There is no clear cut answer to the question, “Is social media good for my business?” There are obviously pros and cons.
Social media is a good way to network with other professionals in any given niche. In fact, there’s hardly a better, more cost-effective way to do this. It’s literally free not counting your ISP fees and any on-the-clock time used. It can be particularly effective for an entrepreneur who is still trying to make a name for his/her business.
Along with networking comes the second major pro, which is branding. The more you network within communities like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube, etc, the more your brand is going to be exposed to others. For the established brand, social networking can help keep that brand fresh in the mind of said communities.
A decrease in productivity is often noted as a con to using social media in the workplace. As the numbers from the FaceTime survey indicate, this certainly does occur, although the amount of people using social media for business reasons isn’t much lower than the number using it for personal reasons. The problem is, there isn’t really a tangible way to measure the amount of productivity reached by these efforts. Just like it is hard to measure brand awareness.