SMBs ban social networking sites

FaceBook might be more popular than email, but it’s also likely to get banned by SMBs

Small and medium sized businesses are banning social networking sites at a rapid rate, according to research from Telstra and Symantec subsidiary, MessageLabs.

The bans, which come as employers seek productivity gains, increased fourfold between June 2008 and April 2009.

According to the figures provided by Telstra, 6000 attempts to access social networking sites are blocked every day, up from 2000 a day ten months ago. In addition, the total number of URLs blocked by SMBs has jumped by 193 per cent since January this year. The majority of those blocked are social networking sites. Finally, the number of URLs that are actually allowed by SMBs has been slashed by 58 per cent since January this year.

“Tweeting, friending or poking your way through the working day may not be the best way to improve the productivity of those many small businesses which are battling to find a way through the challenging economy,” Telstra Business Executive Director Brian Harcourt said.

“If an employee spends as much as an hour a day on Facebook, it can end up costing a business thousands of dollars in lost time over the course of a year,” Harcourt said.

Despite the productivity risks, social networking has exploded in recent years in the workplace. Nielsen Online’s latest research shows it’s more popular than email, and small business owners and managers are now responding with blanket bans. Bigger companies, including Telstra, have introduced social media policies providing guidelines to staff on acceptable usage.

“There is a clear need for formal policies on the use of social networking sites in the workplace and the appropriate and effective software tools that support those policies,” Harcourt said

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