SMBs weigh up use of social media against network security concerns
Impressive growth in numbers using social networking.
We humans are certainly social creatures! There has been an explosive growth in the numbers of social media users in the past year with the three heavy hitters – Facebook, Twitter and Google+ – taking up most of the social media space. By any estimation it’s pretty impressive to see that Facebook has grown to over 800 million active users, adding more than 200 million in a single year. Twitter now has 100 million active users and LinkedIn has over 64 million users in the US (North America) alone. A new report from Palo Alto Networks indicates there has been “explosive growth” in global social networking and browser-based file sharing on corporate networks, with a 300% increase in active social networking in 2011 compared with activity during the same period in the latter half of 2010.
Social media is a genuinely effective business tool
Some experts believe businesses don’t use social networks enough reporting that only 10% of CIOs on the Fortune 250 are active in public social networks. It is clear that social media is a genuinely effective business tool allowing us to engage directly with customers, speeding up business processes, releasing news, marketing products or simply as a way of raising a profile and ultimately to increase business performance. Social media can also help companies boost efficiency and agility through collaboration both with customers and suppliers as well as internally among employees. Workplace social networking allows flexible, data-rich collaboration where employees can find information from, systems, people and applications across the enterprise.
Companies must decide how to safely manage social media usage
This collaboration however is a double edged sword. As the numbers of employees using social networks grow companies must decide how to safely mange these technologies on their networks. The issue is twofold : maintaining productivity levels that can sometimes be adversely affected by non work related social networking and ensuring that the companys network and users are protected against threats.
With company wide use of social networks comes responsibility both for the employer and employee. Recent SpamTitan research reported that over 85% of employers would fire an employee because of inappropriate or damaging social media posts. It is clear that to avoid such costly wrangling and litigation employers need to put in place a clear and detailed internet usage policy which provides crystal clear social media usage guidelines.
Without management & security measures in place social networks will have a negative effect on your business
For employees too there are responsibilities, social media tools help flatten hierarchy and provide employees with a more social and dynamic work environment where Web 2. technology is used to the maximum. The real value delivered by social networking is the dynamic communications where an employee can communicate freely with the entire employee population.
One thing is clear, without management and security measures in place social networks will have a negative effect on your organisation with implications for network security, employee productivity and brand damage if messages posted aren’t in line with your company ethos. Managing this immense resource in down to you.
Do you have any predictions for workplace social media usage in 2012?