By: Andrea Koskey
Examiner Staff Writer
December 31, 2009
Companies and government agencies are using social networking sites such as Facebook to make announcements and keep in touch with the community. (Courtesy photo)
Businesses are increasingly using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter for marketing purposes, but those same companies don’t want employees logging on during work hours.
According to a nationwide survey conducted by Robert Half Technology, a Menlo Park-based company, 54 percent of 1,400 companies surveyed completely restrict employees from visiting social networking sites. Another 19 percent restrict use for business purposes only.
Dave Knapp, regional vice president for Robert Half, said employers find social networking a waste of time.
“It takes away from primary responsibility,” Knapp said. “When socializing on sites such as Facebook, we lose track of time.”
Facebook is a social networking site that offers people the opportunity to share photos and messages with friends. There are 250 million users on the site.
Twitter, which has about 5 million users, allows users to send messages to “followers” through 140-character updates.
Another concern companies may have with social networking sites is the possibility of employees leaking confidential information or sharing thoughts that may reflect badly on the company, Knapp said.
“Many of these companies are still trying to set boundaries,” Knapp said.
For business purposes, however, sites such as Facebook have become increasingly popular for companies to introduce new products or connect with costumers, Knapp said.
Peninsula corporations such as Genetech and Electronic Arts have Facebook pages.
Jamie Grenney, director of social media for San Francisco-based Salesforce.com, said using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube allows the company to reach thousands of customers at once.
Salesforce.com has about 100 employees that are trained to update each of the social media sites; all employees at the company are also given social media training because they are allowed access to the social networking sites, Grenney said.
“It’s very easy to spin up a Twitter account and publish something,” he said. “There’s no undo button. The damage can already be done. We know what could get [employees] and the company in trouble and we want to steer clear of this.”
The public sector has also jumped on the social media bandwagon: South San Francisco, San Mateo Union High School District and BART are among government agencies with their own Facebook and Twitter accounts.
San Mateo County has considered launching a Facebook page, but currently restricts employee use of social networking sites.
“There’s an expectation that when punched in on county time, [employees are] not spending residents’ money for personal use,” said Chris Flatmoe, the county’s technology director.
A nationwide survey of 1,400 Chief Information Officers revealed that a majority of companies prohibit social networking on the job:
54 percent prohibit social networking completely
19 percent limit use to business purposes only
16 percent allow for limited personal use
10 percent permit any type of personal use
1 percent did not respond
Source: Robert Half Technology
~ Bonn Appetite