Is it still right in 2010 for businesses to block the use of social networks?

I was presenting at the Wealth Enhancement Forum last week on social media and the business opportunity it presents.

I was asked several months back if I would do it and I said I would be happy to share my thoughts with the group. I managed to get about five slides into a presentation before the quick fire round started and the questions started to come thick and fast. I found it extremely interesting to hear this group of wealthy business owners talking about social networks and the varying ways in which they or their staff use them.

I will be honest here and say that most of my clients tend to be marketing directors but I do deal with some business owners as I am sure most PR people do. Surprisingly, on the whole 85% of the room weren’t on any social network whatsoever. By far the most widely used social channel was Linked-in. To be honest it still amazes me how many people still pay for courses on how to use linked-in but that’s for another time and another post.

Anyway the thing that interested me the most was the fact that employers still seem to be totally comfortable with blocking the social networks for their employees. Most of these business owners believed that if they let their employees have access to social media they will just play around and start organising their evenings out rather than doing what they call ‘real work’.

Now my opinion on this is clear, I think the use of social networks should be encouraged for all the benefits I often talk about here on the blog but I do know where they are coming from. At one of my previous employers one of my team members used to spend an awful long time on Facebook claiming they were researching for outreach programmes etc. I don’t mind the occasional use of it for fun purposes either as it is now part of our society but using it for hours on end can be counter productive for any employer.

So my question is this. In 2010, now that Facebook is more than six years old and the shine has dimmed a bit – is it still right for employers to block social network usage altogether or should they be encouraging their staff to network and communicate?

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2 comments on “Is it still right in 2010 for businesses to block the use of social networks?
  1. Hi Chris

    Interesting article and having worked in corporate as a sales manager I’m thinking along the following lines – measurement of activity and return.

    We know that SocMedia is a gateway to customers and can be used as a relationship development tool as part of the marketing mix and yet I feel that there is still a thought process that SMedia is ‘messing around on the internet’ which I feel is derived from the fact that many managers have not got the measuring devices on place to see how effective it can be.

    For proactive business developers, the telephone is seen (rightly or wrongly) as the direct route to the heart of the target market and it does work. However, business relationships do flourish online yet require more effort I feel.

    In addition, the one dimensional elements of relationship producing roles (what I mean by that is that the role of a sales person is quite mechanical and process driven) along with the easy way to measure traditional ways of relationship developing activity means that maybe it might be some time before employers ‘value’ SMedia as much as those who use it with more freedom.

  2. It depends on the sector. If you work at a toy factory and some engineer accidentally mentions something about a secret product, it stinks but life will go on. I think it’s better to have someone excited slip on the details than media who can look for flaws.

    However, national defense agencies like the Military, NSA, CIA and FBI should have every right to ban social media use. One slip and people can be put in harms way.

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