As my time reporting for SearchUnifiedCommunications.com wound down, there was one story I kept coming back to again and again: How social media and social networking were playing out in the enterprise. For some companies, social media was the creative lifeblood of their employees, letting them quickly and efficiently connect with the right people more deeply and directly than IM or e-mail allowed. For other companies, all it took was a CEO to stroll down cubicles all tuned to Facebook and the firewalls came crashing down.
But talking with a lot of companies, it seemed the movement was towards a more liberal policy – Freedom with responsibility, as it were – when it came to social networking. Generally, IT departments were at least allowing it during non-peak hours, or for certain departments that could justify the benefits.
Now Mashable brings word that fully 50 percent of companies are blocking social media access, but buried in there was the truly startling statistic: “8% of companies in the US have fired staff over social media misuse.”
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With those kind of numbers, you’d think that it was Facebook that was single handedly driving all the unemployment as those who still had jobs frittered away their productivity by posting cute animal videos and eBaying. I’m skeptical about what those numbers mean, to say the least: Were some of those 50% of companies limiting social networking during peak hours to conserve bandwidth, for example? Almost none (with a few exceptions) of the companies I’ve spoken to over the year have a black-and-white policy on this stuff, and while nuance doesn’t make eye-grabbing survey data, it often maeks a lot of sense.
Although IT departments rarely have the final word on these policies, I’d love to hear your advice on developing and implementing social media guidelines, from both a technical and policy perspective, since it’s something that almost every enterprise has started confronting. I’ll try and write up some of the best ideas later this week, so feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments or e-mail me directly at Michael@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.