It’s Personal: Why 31% of companies ban social media

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We’re making some progress in social media and corporate adoption of social media services for business.  Companies are starting to soften their approach to social media and its use to get information inside of the corporate firewall.  There’s still a long way to go though.  PR Newswire published a report from the Robert Half Technology group who surveyed 1400 CIO’s  about their policy on visiting social networking sites whilst at work.  Here are their responses with comparisons from the 2009 survey.

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As you can see, there has been a large jump in companies relaxing their stance on the use of social media for business purposes only.  Companies are recognising the insights that social media intelligence brings brands who need to find out what their customers are saying about them.  They are also recognising the need to have a workable and effective social media policy in place too. 

But companies are still restricting their employees use of social media.  69% of companies allow social media in some way (up from 45% 2 years ago) But with 31% restricting social media activities totally there must be a logical business reason for this.  I can see several pros and cons for this decision:

Compliance: Many companies in the financial services and banking sector have to place many checks and balances in place to comply with regulatory and financial rules and laws.  Social media would add another layer of complexity to monitoring

Productivity: Companies view the time spent on social networking as a waste of time.  It’s actually a cost to the business.  Say you have a staff member earning 40,000 per year who spends 2 hours a day.  That’s 10 hours per week – or 25% of the working week which equates to 10,000 per year as a cost to the business. Can that member of staff demonstrate a 10,000 ROI?

Flexible working:  This style of working is now becoming the norm.  Work takes up a part of our leisure time so why shouldn’t leisure activities take up a part of our working hours?

Knowledge Capital: Our friends might have knowledge we need – and social networks are often the quickest way of finding out information quickly and easily across company boundaries

Whilst some companies might never sanction the use of social media entirely at their business, I predict that there will be a softening in attitude as more and more organisations learn to effectively harness the power of the community and its ability to react quickly to events, news and reactions. 

The agile business will need to keep an eye on the new way of working – to prevent being left behind in this competitive age. 

If you’re not engaging in social media, you can bet that your competitor is – and that might just give them the edge over you… 

Eileen is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

image credit: Flickr