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November 04, 2011

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Adi Gaskell

I really couldn't agree with this more David. I posted news of the Cisco findings on Facebook earlier in the week and was shocked by the number of people saying that social media should be (and is) blocked at work and how it decimates productivity.

It's simply staggering how many people have this mindset still.

Chris Barry

I'm with you 110% David.

Danmoyle

I fought for a long time at a TV newsroom for this. Management banned all SM for a long time. I still have no respect for companies who treat their employees like children, rather than empowering them to connect and drive leads/sales simply by representing their companies online. I'm with you sir.

HoratioNelson

I completely agree on the principle but can't really believe a young professional would walk out of a job because there is no access to Facebook or Twitter... At least not here on mainland Europe.

You touch on the real issue which is trust. Organizations that do not trust their employees will fail.

I am currently rolling out an internal collaboration platform in the company (including internal blogs, status updates, communities, wikis etc...) and the trust topic is central.

Empowering employees to share information, collaborate and network is based on trust and is a real pre-requisite for any kind of professional in house use of social media tools.

Unfortunately, here in Belgium the trend is towards blocking social media from the workfloor...

Amy

I read about this study earlier this week, and I don't really know how to feel about it. A big chunk of my job revolves around social media, and as a recent (within the last two years) college grad, I know that social media is a huge part of many people's lives. I think a company that outright bans any social media interaction is shooting themselves in the foot.

But on the other hand I must say that I'm flummoxed by this study's findings (nevermind that 2800 people is not a large enough sample size). When I graduated from college, "access to social media" was not on my list of requirements for a job; having a job at ALL was my requirement. I think the kids they surveyed must be living in some sort of "college bubble" that makes them think that getting a job is easy, and that you'll find your dream job right away. And maybe that's true; but it might not be easy. And then what? These people will turn down a perfectly decent job because they're not allowed to visit social media sites while at work? Am I just overreacting/overthinking?

Kelly Lornz

I've worked with clients before that were tasked with promoting a YouTube video that was created by corporate. The corporation had put blocks so they could go to any social network or some websites. This ban was actively preventing my clients from getting their job done most effectively.

It seems companies do this out of fear and the unknown. They are afraid that opening access means employees will spend all day every day on the social network. Fortunately, the majority of people are honest and want to keep their jobs, so they don't do this, but what harm is a few minutes on a social network a day?

As an email marketing professional, I have learned vast amounts more from engaging with other professionals in the industry via social media than from books and blogs. Social media enabled me to reach people on the other side of the world that may be the best of the best in their field and pick their brain. This is one of the main reasons I advocate for free access in the workplace.

Finally, to address Amy, I graduated college when social media was just a baby, but as a young professional, I would not work for a company that would restrict access not because I can't live without social media, but because it shows they don't trust their employees and is often a clear sign that the company likely has major issues beyond trust. Even if it would mean no employment, you have to consider health reasons and happiness as part of the equation when deciding where to work. Living with constant fear that I'm doing something wrong just to have a job is not my preference.

David Meerman Scott

Thanks for all these great comments. Based on the number of tweets, this post struck a nerve with many.

Horatio and Amy - good people will find a job if they are diligent even in a down economy. And yes, good people will be beaten down if they are not trusted at work and prohibited from doing what they know is right. The good ones will then be on the job market again - that's why I think it is so important to ask the question in interviews.

Dave

While I agree with the sentiments expressed, I also think the newer workers need to learn the world doesn't revolve around their needs. When you go to work for a company, it's not up to them to play by your rules; it's your job to play by theirs. Of course, once you're in, you can work to change those rules!

I think the real reason companies don't adapt to social media, though, is fear of legal action more than fear of reduced productivity. Let's face it, there are many areas where the law is stacked against the company. Employee A says something inappropriate to Employee B, and it's the company who gets sued (despite the presence of relevant training, no notice from B to A to stop it, etc.). Employee C decides to stop at the local watering hole before getting into the company vehicle and ends up running over a pedestrian; the company's at fault, even though it's impossible to keep an eye on everyone 100% of the time. Employee D posts something via social media that reflects badly on the company; guess who's faulted by the public? Yep. When the law starts accommodating common sense, I predict (a) companies will lighten up on social media use, and (b) pigs will fly.

Jes

Any idea how many companies are banning open Internet access these days? I know it was pretty prevalent back in the 90s, but as a multiple tech startup junkie, I've always had access to everything on the Web.

David Meerman Scott

Dave -- The real reason they ban is ignorance and fear. There is no practical reason. Do they block the telephone, fax, and company break room?

Jes -- I don't know about banning internet access, but my rough guess is that worldwide 25% of companies block access to social media.

Dragan Mestrovic

I fully agree with you David!

If a company is restricting the access to a communication medium like social media where about one billion+ people are around worldwide, than they do not have a prospective future for sure!

1st they do not embrace new technologies to set them apart of their competition.

2nd they are not innovative or creative and block booth of these attributes.

3rd they seem to hide anything from the public. Not very trustworthy!

4th they are not trusted persons them self, because they mistrust their employees.

5th they do not care a sh** about their customers because they are not interested in a two way communication with them.

Why should an intelligent person be hire to a sinking ship? ;)

There is no question this ship will sink! So why waste valuable time and energy with it!

J0N1

I’m a big advocate of allowing unrestricted access to the Internet for office workers on their own and company equipment. I’d also encourage staff to use their own favoured social media channels to communicate with friends and colleagues while at work. Therefore a lot of what you say above resonates, as does the data coming out of the Cisco study.

However, something about the data bothers me and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it has something to do with the potential naivety of college students, many of whom will have little or no substantive work experience in an office. This may well be reflected in the quite marked difference between some of the college student percentages compared to the “End user” percentages, which I suspect are tempered by the realities of holding down a job.

Quite why 64% would plan to ask a prospective employer about their social media policy, but 40% of this group would then discount the answer when considering whether or not to accept or reject an offer is beyond me. Regardless, I think the advice to get up and leave an interview if the answer to the social media question is not what you are looking for is dangerous. I can’t imagine any circumstances during a job interview where “get up and leave” would be good advice, especially to youngsters entering the workforce for the first time.

My advice would be “don’t ask questions in a job interview if you are not interested in the answer and don’t ever burn your bridges by leaving an interview room early because you don’t like what you hear”.

Emily Wienberg

This says a lot about company culture and the future of a business if they don't let their employees use social media at work. Does this mean the company isn't even using social media to listen, connect and communicate with its customers? These companies don't just have to worry about losing good employees - they can count on losing customers in the near future as well. Great post with a lot of great statistics!

Christian comedians

If people have an access to Facebook and other social networking platforms at work then their mind is always into those websites. I think definitely these sites should be prohibited at a workplace.

Cygnis Media

Yup. I'm making a jump in the next couple days. 4k less a year, but not only is SoMe is not prohibited (even on your own time) But encouraged in an effort to create discussion about the products and services the new company offers.

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