If you had to guess, what do you think would be the most visited Web site for your business? If you answered Google, you’d be wrong. In the first quarter of 2010, Google accounted for 3.4% of all URLs accessed by businesses, but came second to Facebook, which was visited twice as much at 6.8% (an increase of 1% from Q4 2009).
Facebook has become immensely popular as a way for people to stay in touch with friends and family during the working day. Businesses and authorities have tried banning employees from accessing it at work, and have even tried to block the site, sometimes to little effect.
This is not as trivial as it may seem, some solutions are not able to cope with accesses made through proxy servers for instance. So while much of the debate about using Facebook at work has centred around its impact on productivity, the main concern should be security, as social network users are likely to download applications to add to their profiles, which can breach network security.
Banning Facebook can impact staff morale, and, as mentioned above, can lead to employees trying to access the site via proxy servers, so it’s worth taking time to formulate a response to social network usage.
I’ve also discovered that the largest consumption of corporate bandwidth (as opposed to the number of hits) in Q1 2010 was YouTube, at 10%, which was more than double that used by Facebook at 4.5%. That’s at least 14.5% of corporate bandwidth that is being used by what I can assume is a mainly non-business related activity (note that some companies may use YouTube and Facebook for business reasons).
Perhaps these figures are an indication of just how much businesses are embracing new media. Or, more likely, they show how important social media has become in our personal lives. Whether employees are accessing these sites with the full knowledge and authority of their employers or not, one thing is clear, business owners must have a policy in place for social media usage and the need to ensure that they have a solid security solution in place that will mitigate the risks involved in using these Web sites.