Many organizations recognize the value of professional social networks. Of the 49 per cent of organizations that block at least some social media sites, only 23.44 block LinkedIn (compared to 78.47 per cent for Facebook, 63.16 per cent for Twitter and 60.77 per cent for YouTube).
In the next few years, the large majority of organizations will allow at least some form of social media and most will start with professional social networks because it’s easier to show a business case for networking with other professionals on a professional forum. However, only allowing access to LinkedIn still creates a divide between generations. Only about 1.7 per cent of those under age 25 accessed LinkedIn in February 2010, according to comScore, compared to 3.5 per cent of those aged 25 to 34, 4.7 per cent of those aged 35 to 44 and more than five per cent for those 45 and older.
While allowing professional social networks may alleviate some pressure from employees for the organization to embrace social media, this should only be a temporary solution and the organization should use it as an opportunity to discover the value of social media if it is harnessed in a productive way.
- Less risk of malicious attacks and phishing websites from social media than allowing all social media websites.
- It’s easier to create a business case for using a professional network to stay in touch with employees and prospective candidates and clients.
- Can see what competitors are doing.
- More employees using mobile devices to access other social media sites at work.
- Increased internal security breaches caused by employees trying to find ways to access other social media sites.
- Increased pressure to allow other social media websites.
- Shows a lack of innovation and presents a conservative culture to candidates, employees and external stakeholders.
If you want to use this strategy, you should ask employees which social media website is most useful to them in their jobs. Organizations should also refrain from monitoring how much time employees spend on the social media site. Often employees will have the website open in one of many Internet browser windows while working on other tasks, so the raw numbers could make it look as if an employee spent all day on the website when in fact she may have only spent a total of 15 minutes checking it throughout the day. Instead of relying on Internet usage numbers to determine if an employee is wasting time, managers should instead look at the quality of the employee’s work and if she meets her deadlines.