Social Media and Business

I’ve just read this article posted at TechRepublic on what CIOs think about banning social media, which was based on a report that says that 6% of all internet traffic goes to Facebook – now making it a higher percentage than goes to Google. Which got me thinking about the rock and a hard place that corporate networks face in this respect.

I’m a contractor and every business/government body I work with blocks social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc).    Around 12 months ago I wrote an email and internet policy document for a client based on those rules, 6 months later I was asked by the same company to do a review of social networking media and how it can be used in their business.  IT depts pretty much work on a command and control model which heavily polices what users can and cannot do (and you can see why it has to be so, corporate bandwidth costs money and there are security risks around downloading form social networks); but now that business globally have embraced social media to the point where you have Kentucky Fried Chicken running a Facebook page with a gazillion fans around the world, the playing field has changed.

Everybody is scrambling to get on the social media boat as they can see the potential for connecting with customers and would-be customers in ways that was previously unheard of – but they struggle with the concept of letting go of the reins and giving their own employees access those same tools. I mean really if you think about it, it’s a bit hypocritical if the employer bans YouTube, FB, Twitter, etc because they are seen as wasting company time and resources while at the same time the business itself is out there trying to building a social media presence. And it begs the question,  if a business is going to engage in marketing via social networks by say having a Facebook page,  how do they expect to be taken seriously if they treat it as inappropriate for their own employees  use?  

A first step would be to have their own employees  engaged on those networks, not banned from them (obviously done with some parameters of use based on how the business sees this working)  Another point to think about is that  if employers with a social media presence ban social media access internally this has got to have a ripple effect. I would have thought that if many businesses take the same tack and ban the use of these products  this has to affect customer visits in general,  as businesses cut each other off from visits to their social media sites by  potential clients/customers  – leaving the business FB page to rely on visits that can only occur  in the would-be customer’s  own time, after hours or when they can be bothered – a rather narrowed window of opportunity. 

Just a thought: if a lot of business Internet traffic is going to Facebook as the report suggests, maybe another way to look at this is to consider that’s where customers go voluntarily….

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