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June 19, 2008


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Dianna Huff


Thank you for the plug. Because I'm in B2B, I thought the results to the survey would be much different. I'm amazed at how many people watch YouTube -- for work and pleasure.

Your post brought back memories of the "old" days when the Web was new.

I remember when working on Web projects was granted only to a few -- and you had to state your case as to why you should be granted the access.

And, I remember when one person I worked with thought the Web was the "stupidest thing he had ever heard of."

Excellent post.

harry the ASIC guy

One more important point. It's often the CIO or the IT department that makes these decisions. And we know how willing they are to cede control and trust the employees ... NOT!

Mordechai (Morty) Schiller

David & Dianna,

I applaud your campaign, but I wouldn't hold my breath. I've seen companies install spyware to check what employees were doing online! (One person quit after seeing the cursor move across her screen without her control!)

Whether justifiable or not, many employers are functioning in panic mode. They feel they are under siege from the economy, competitors and even the government.

Maybe your considerable influence would be better applied trying to get Google to start a new, no-nonsense, business video channel.


Sebastien Couture

Or just install YourFreedom and do it from work anyway...

Ted S

Great post although it's unfortunate to hear so many companies are taking this stance. A few years back I worked for an organization with a similar policy -- of course employees who wanted to "slack" still had their email and other tools to kill time with while the marketing and pr teams were constantly battling to get IT to unblock site after site which were all related to the business. It shocks me how companies will kill productivity in an effort to boost productivity and never look back to see the real impact. Employees may use social sites for their own enjoyment or to engage in business practices, but either way there's a lot of positive upsides for the business out there and trying to stop people only hurts the organization. As we all know, people who don't want to work won't regardless of blocked websites.


I don't work for a company who blocks access but I do work for a company who doesn't understand social media.

Recently I was informed by my supervisor to stop posting to my blog on our company's website because, "I was not providing quality content that our site needed." When I countered that blogging is content and the issues I was blogging were of a certain "quality", I was politely reminded that I was not an expert and we needed the experts to provide content for our site.

A month later we still don't have experts providing content.

So I was blocked from blogging on our own site.

So your post is on point with how a lot of companies view this medium and like many, it makes me laugh. Like nature the ones that adapt survive. And though I wasn't around the 1st time, I look forward to extinction of the 2nd round of dinosaurs.

Gilad Langer

I believe that you have touched on a deeper issue and that is leadership. Trust is certainly part of it and too many companies lack this elusive concept, at least in my experience. Other important attributes are motivating, mentoring, guiding, etc. Using all of these one can only imagine how employees can bring value to a company using social media, and other tools of "the new rules".

I am an avid reader, keep it up and thanks for enlightening us all.
- Gilad

Bill Gammell

It could be that blocking these social media sites is just the tip of the "distrust" iceberg. If you're company is blocking these sites, what else are the doing?

I know of companies that not only block certain sites, they monitor telephone and email conversations and make salaried employees clock in and out. It all boils down to trust.

Remember, technology doesn't kill time, people do.

michael lamb

The tools are just there, but come on, it's Soooooo easy for employees to waste hours and hours checking FB feeds regularly and spending more time online than doing work. This adds to management issues - more oversight required, more motivational techniques. This is great and fun for big companies like IBM, but this is a small company killer.

People are PAID to work. They are not paid to waste hours vampire biting their friends. I think employees need to start looking a little less at "entitlement" and a bit more about being productive. I don't believe in banning the sites but you can't dismiss that many, many people are addicted to socializing online and spend way too many paid onsite hours doing unproductive work because the internet is SO easy - you can do it without any seeing (unlike if you're spending hours at the water cooler - everyone can see you're not at your desk) or hours on the phone chatting with friends. The internet is solitary and easily hidden where a user can "look" productive but is really super poking people. Dismissing that outright and calling companies trying to control this lost productivity is irresponsible.

David Meerman Scott

Thanks for the comment Michael,

While I agree with some of what you're saying, I think it is a management issue, not a technology issue.

If people mess around at work, it doesn't really matter if it is on Facebook, or chatting by the water cooler, or taking a three hour "shopping lunch". It's all the same - people not doing what they've been paid to do.

I would deal with the behavior. If required, fire the employee who is not working.

Take care, David

michael lamb

I agree it's *partly* a management issue. My point is more that the layers of management in large companies can afford this. Small companies have a more difficult time. I also think it's very important to acknowledge that taking long lunches, chatting by the water cooler are all noticeable things (meaning: management and other employees can see that an employee is doing this behavior and there can also be some peer pressure and ostracizing corrections done internally by social norms - rather than laying the entire burden on management's shoulders). Wasteful time online is a lot more difficult to catch and monitor becuase of its solitary/hidden nature. I think social networking and using technology tools is great. I also think that mis-use by employees is a bigger issue, espeically for smaller companies, than simply saying they should trust employees and let them do whatever they want on youtube/ facebook / myspace etc.


Interesting Post.

For such an old school company IBM has been in the forefront of social networking. They were one of the first companies to have a blogging policy, encourage key influencers to blog and in some areas on their web site even put the managers name, picture and phone number so you can get in contact with a person..a novel concept in this day and age.

While we love to talk about the great things that can happen with social media and how we as marketing professionals “MUST" use social media to open up the conversation , we fail to remember that social media is only successful if the company culture is open to having a conversation.

Ask yourself how many management boards would be comfortable in having people rank their products in a online community. The answer is not a lot. Until management understands that new employee and customer uses face book, YouTube, and IM to communicate and no longer uses excel, word, or power point we will continue to have these gaps in culture and understanding.
Before a company can really leverage social media they must have the culture of conversation. Just look at SUN Micro Systems. Their CEO is Mr. Social Media. It starts at the top.


It is interesting that most corporate digital policies do not discuss the use of personal mobile devices in the workplace.

A few years ago, people were definitely more tethered to their laptop/desktop than they are today. The employee, who may be blocked from using the corporate network to surf the web, can now easily surf the web from their mobile appliance.

Companies who are discouraging web use - that could be monitored - are overlooking what can be done on a personal device.

Lorenz Gude

I'm an American who has lived half my life in Australia. Generally, Aussies are initially technophobic as are our companies and government departments. When they get it, there is no stopping them. I first noticed this teaching computing in a university in the 80s. Skeptical resistance then enthusiasm. Later I watched Aussies worry about email in the workplace etc. While there is no stopping Aussies love affair with computing, they are a more structured society especially in the workplace. Telecommuting is not as common as the US (trust is the issue) and web surfing rules in the workplace are tighter from what I hear anecdotally. For example, I don't know of any Aussie soldiers blogging while it is common with American soldiers. While there are plenty of Australians using social media I found myself selling it to a 30 something engineer with an MBA over dinner recently. What I observe as an expatriate is that Americans don't see how open to innovation they are culturally. That means, in part, that we adapt quickly to new media environments. I found your post through a link in a Plurk from my daughter in law in South Florida who uses Social Media at work and personally.


facebook is horrible, I honestly wish it never excisted. Speaking on behalf of teenage culture, it gives them a stronger view of conformity. Don;t you miss the days when you weren't completely exposed ? when you didn't have to brouadcast yourself in the way that you would like others to see you by taking good pictures and pretending that you are famous ? people in the days that were prefacebook survied fine socially and in my personal opinion, expirienced less pressure and more curiousity and more personal relationships with the people that they were actually interested in having relationships with, instead of the massive web of people in their lives dating down to elementay school (some that they don't even want to know or see again). We are basically giving people permission to act nosey and look into our lives, which can be enjoyable but is seriously a waste of time if you think about it. FACEBOOK SUCKS !!! and I know that I sound selfrightous,annoying,and antisocial, but I have had facebook for quite a while and have begin to realise that it has only made me more insecure and addicted to something so empty.I;m so tired of this and need to express my opinion. If you think about, facebook is manly a teenage glorified website, and my generation are getting worse in terms of being self absorbed and basing life on ignorant gossip. well, if anyone sees this and remotely understands, comments are appreciated :)


I believe people slack off in a slacky environment.

In an environment of accountability, commitment and discipline, people join the company and pick up the company's energy of contribution. They may spend a few moments to check emails or read blogs, but the high-expectation culture motivates them to do their work.

And by work I don't mean merely filling up hours. What counts is what we put into those hours.

In a company where employees slack off, the top folks are slaking off big big time. And through their behaviour they create a slack off culture. The employees are just following the example set my management.

David Meerman Scott

Well said, Tom. I agree.

Jean-Julius Joseph Vernal

Tell Paranoid corporation, they are in big trouble at their own peril ;)

Jean-Julius Joseph



Thanks for commenting on my post. I was amazed and still curious about how you found my blog, but I guess that's the power of social media. I do agree that companies should embrace social media and not block internet access. However, what suggestions to do you have for changing their minds? If I wanted to promote less internet blockage and try to convince a company that social media is truly an important part of a business, what are the beginning steps?

David Meerman Scott

Amber, I have Google alerts that tell me if my name or the title of my book has been used in a blog post.

This post and the many thoughtful comments to it lay out a good argument for social media.

Companies need to be communicating in the ways that people are using. With millions involved in social media and everyone using search engines, that's an important way to reach people. If you don't, you're missing out on potential customers....


I know companies pay us to work. But really, when trillions of taxpayer dollars can simply disappear, it makes us all wonder what the heck we're working so hard for?

Give us 20 hour work weeks and you can bet that those 20 hours will be productive. This is all about maintaining the status quo. The internet threatens the status quo, so the old white guys want to control it. Period.

Yasir Malik

help me to unblock the facebook


I am running into this right now.
I work for a nonprofit and we use YouTube for our videos. Do you have any suggestions on other providers that wouldn't be blocked?

David Meerman Scott

Wyndy - I use Vimeo. But there are many others.

Alex Benaim

David, I want to commend you on your entertaining, yet insightful post. You give equal depth to both sides of this tension. I especially enjoy when you engage in this idea of trust, both in a company and towards the ability of social media. I do understand that these Facebook and Twitter platforms are a scary thought. After all, as I suggested in my older post, it is statistically proven that though these sites do significantly increase brand awareness, they do not guarantee a rise in sales revenue. So I understand why corporations would not want to go down that route, in that they would not waste their marketing dollars on a perhaps ineffective tool of marketing.

In addition, as you mention, with the use of social media, the integrity of the employees is called into question. There may be a case where an infuriated coworker may decide to express his frustration of his company on his Facebook status. By broadcasting a negative image of the corporation on such a public sphere, this can damage the credibility of the business. This scenario correlates to your deduction of the problem between affiliates and social media. You conclude that companies are wrongfully accusing social networks for this potential mishap; who should be blamed is the faculty itself. You assert, “we're talking about people here. Employees do silly things. This debate should be centered on people, not technology.” It is true that parent firms are simply afraid of this “unknown”, thus they want to regulate what they are not familiar with because that is generally what always causes distress and concern. Unfortunately, that might not necessarily grace a peaceful and content work environment because by restricting these social channels, these corporations are emphasizing their distrust in their agents. According to your analysis, therefore, the right manner to negotiate with this “unacquainted” social platform is to create general “guidelines” of work behavior. You suggest the policies should imply that “employees can't sexually harass anyone, reveal secrets, or use inside information to trade stock or influence prices, and…should include email, using social media, commenting on online forums and chat rooms, and other forms of communication.” I agree with these perspective legislations because they do not necessarily target social systems, but extends discipline to all aspects of work conduct. Therefore, company insiders will not be as tempted to disobey these codes because they are not specific to one aspect of work.
My question to you David though, is how would you pitch this type of administration to these corporations, those so tenacious in their routine strategies? Just a little curious thought.

David Meerman Scott

Hey Alex. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

I ask executives how THEY solve problems. Do they use search engines? The Yellow Pages?

Here is a video of what I do.

You should see when I ask these questions in a board room.



I agree that blocking can be annoying, but as a person in the IT Security department I see some reason for some of it. My company blocks Facebook and Youtube and Vimeo and some others. We don't block Twitter and Linkedin or Ebay. The site-blocking criteria often involves whether a site can end up using the company resources via streaming (Youtube, Vimeo). Or sometimes the site is associated with lots of virus activity (nasty old Facebook). So it's not just about a lack of trust, it may be a blocking of sites known to cause problems.

David Meerman Scott

Larsongs - Many thanks for the comment.

I need to disagree. I think that's silly. You need to upgrade your security systems and get more bandwidth. To block legitimate communications tools from employee use is inappropriate in 2010.

Best, David


try this if you want to access youtube again after it's blocked:

flirting tips tricks

Tom, people will slack off in any environment. "Slacky" environment or no, it all depends on the person. That doesn't mean that can't be changed by a particularly extreme environment, of course.

Russ Jefferys

Looks like this debate is raging on. New research doesn't help the pro-argument, but I've tried to make a case for it here:



Keep up the great work David!



I think it was an mistake to block facebook

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