Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Corporate Use of Social Networking Still an Executive Concern

According to a study by Russell Herder and Ethos Business Law, senior US marketing, management and HR executives are concerned about the risks of increased use of social networks within their companies. 51% percent of these executives fear social media could be detrimental to employee productivity, while 49% assert that using social media could damage company reputation.

Despite these apprehensions, says the study, social networking is being accepted as a key communications strategy. According to survey results:
81% believe social media can enhance relationships with customers/clients
81% agree it can build brand reputation
69% feel such networking can be valuable in recruitment
64% see it as a customer service tool
46% think it can be used to enhance employee morale

The most popular vehicles being used include:
Facebook (80%)
Twitter (66%)
YouTube (55%)
LinkedIn (49%)
Blogs (43%)

Much of senior management's direct experience with social media appears to be reactive versus proactive, concludes the report. 72% of executives say that they, personally, visit social media sites at least weekly:
52% to read what customers may be saying about their company
47% to routinely monitor a competitors' use of social networking
36% to see what their employees are sharing
25% check the background of a prospective employee

The national survey, which assessed social media workplace trends and adoption of policies governing social media, found that fewer than one in three respondents say their organization has a policy in place to govern social media use and only 10% of companies have conducted employee training on it.

Executives believe social media can potentially be detrimental to employee effectiveness and company reputation, sys the report. Those surveyed who are not using social media on a corporate basis say non-implementation is primarily due to concern about confidentiality or security issues (40%), employee productivity (37%) or simply not knowing enough about it (51%).

This may be why many organizations continue to prohibit workplace access to social networking sites. The study found that 40 percent of companies technically block their employees from accessing social media while at work. At the same time, 26% of companies use social media to further corporate objectives and 70% said they plan to increase the use of these new opportunities.

Even though social media communication is growing, only one in 10 executives say they have staff who spend more than 50% of their time on such efforts, and only 13% have included social media in their organizations' crisis communications plans.

Carol Russell, CEO of Russell Herder, says "Ignoring the need for responsible guidelines can leave an organization open to unnecessary risk and can impede efforts to use social media proactively and competitively in the marketplace... "

And, according to Ethos President David Baer, good social media policies are organization-specific, taking into consideration the philosophy and culture of the organization. Good policies should include, he says, "the need to respect confidential and proprietary information, as well as the sensitivity of potential conflicts of interest."

To view the balance of the Whitepaper in a PDF file, please access it at (rhp_089_whitepaper.pdf) with this link.

Source: Center for Media Research Research Brief 9/25/09

Friday, August 07, 2009

Facebook Use at Work...Does It Help or Hurt?

An independent study by Nucleus Research finds that companies that allow access to Facebook lose an average of 1.5% in total employee productivity. Nearly half of employees in the study, and 77% of those with an account, use Facebook during work hours, with some employees using Facebook as much as 2 hours per day while at work. One in 33 employees use Facebook exclusively while at work.

To explore the business productivity impact of Facebook, Nucleus interviewed 237 randomly selected office workers about their use of Facebook and found:
  • 77% of workers have a Facebook account.
  • Of those workers with Facebook accounts, nearly two-thirds access Facebook during working hours
  • Those who access Facebook at work do so for an average of 15 minutes each day
  • 87% of those who access Facebook at work couldn't define a clear business reason for using it
  • Of those who do access Facebook at work, 6% never access Facebook anywhere else, meaning one in every 33 workers built their entire Facebook profile during work hours

It is interesting to note that, says the report, of the 13% of users that had a business reason for accessing Facebook, most were not using it for personal networking but to promote a business, product, event, or fan site to Facebook users, and Facebook was just one component of an overall marketing strategy. None of the users had measured the comparative effectiveness of Facebook over other marketing strategies.

The average employee who accesses Facebook at work uses it for 15 minutes each day, with a low of one minute and a high of 120 minutes per day.

Beyond its impact on productivity, the Nucleus study also uncovered the growing use of Facebook as an alternative e-mail platform. Traditional e-mail and even personal accounts like gmail can be monitored by corporate IT, while Facebook messages are not. For organizations that have invested in security software to secure sensitive information and limit their transmission via e-mail, the use of Facebook can help users circumvent those controls, opening up the potential to violate corporate communication policies, concludes the report.

The report concludes that "companies need to understand the cost in productivity from accessing these sites." Of those using Facebook at work, 87% could not define a clear business reason for accessing the site. Further, the analysis reveals potential security concerns through email, as most organizations do not monitor and manage Facebook as closely as email, creating an opportunity for Facebook users to circumvent controls and violate corporate communications policies.

For additional detail, please access the PDF file here, or the release here.

Source: Center for Media Research