eMarketer – How Effective Are Corporate Social Media Policies?

Banning usage may not be best choice

MAY 3, 2010 – Many IT professionals are down on social media usage in the workplace, both because they believe it hinders productivity and might compromise security. As companies adopt usage policies, employees continue to check out Facebook and other potentially forbidden sites.

According to a survey by security solutions provider nCircle, about three-fifths of US security and IT professionals say their company has a social media policy, and two-fifths ban all usage of social media on the job.

Those bans may stem from legitimate concerns, but researchers have warned that security and productivity problems can be combated while allowing employees to harness social media in ways beneficial to their business.

“Even though almost 40% of respondents ban employee social media use, this type of policy is a knee-jerk reaction to the serious security risks associated with social media and is not necessarily effective,” said Andrew Storms, director of security operations for nCircle, in a statement.

Social activities that blur the lines between personal and professional likely persist even where usage is frowned upon. Nearly one-quarter of Facebook users surveyed by Web security firm F-Secure said they used the site “all the time” while at work, and even more had friended their boss. Another 35% visited Facebook occasionally on the job. Just 14.3% of respondents said their company did not allow access-much lower than the 39% of companies in the nCircle survey that reported bans.

Tellingly, nearly one-half of the IT professionals polled by nCircle admitted they were unsure whether employees at their companies adhered to the rules in place.

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