I recently retweeted a post from a blog that referred to a study by Network Box. It was mentioned on several leading blogs and sites such as MediaPost where the title of the story was “Report: Employees Waste “Hours” On Facebook, YouTube”.
Time to look for the source of all this buzz: Network Box, a business that specializes in managed security services.
I found the article on the web site of the company where it is titled “Business internet traffic increases to Facebook and YouTube”. Seemed like a pretty ‘neutral’ title so I started reading it.
In fact, what Network Box found was that, and I quote, “more business internet traffic goes to Facebook than to any other internet site…analysis of 13 billion URLs used by businesses in the first quarter of 2010 shows that 6.8 per cent of all business internet traffic goes to Facebook – an increase of one per cent since the last quarter of 2009”.
Furthermore, the analysis showed that another social network, YouTube, is a real bandwidth buster. I quote again: “more business bandwidth is taken up with YouTube videos than anything else: 10 per cent of all corporate bandwidth is taken up watching YouTube videos, an increase of two per cent since the last quarter of 2009”.
The fear of malware via Twitter and other social networks
So, what did the analysis show? That there is an increase of 1% in business internet traffic to Facebook, in comparison to last quarter and an increase of 2% in the corporate bandwidth that is used by employees watching YouTube videos.
As a managed security service business, Network Box, obviously looked at the impact of all this for IT people, (network) security and the availability of corporate networks.
Recently, the company found that the biggest security concern the IT managers it surveyed have is “employees using applications on social networks while at work, with 43 per cent of respondents saying this is a major concern”.
Also, over one third (36%) of the IT managers “are concerned about malware passed via networks such as LinkedIn or Twitter, and employees trusting (and clicking on) links sent by contacts within their networks”.
That is indeed a challenge and employees that are less ‘savvy’ regarding these malware issues might require some training (although I guess they are not the most intensive social networkers).
Data: social networks “rule” in business internet traffic
Below is a list, as found in the Network Box analysis of the “top five websites visited by businesses in Q1 2010”:
1) Facebook: 6.8% of all traffic
2) Google: 3.4%
3) Yimg (Yahoo!’s image server): 2.8%
4) Yahoo!: 2.4%
5) Doubleclick: 1.7%
And here is the list of the top 5 bandwidth busters:
1) YouTube: 10% of all bandwidth used
2) Facebook: 4.5%
3) Windows Update: 3.3%
4) Yimg: 2.7%
5) Google: 2.5%
How does Network Box interprete these figures?
Here is what internet security analyst Simon Heron says: “The figures show that IT managers are right to be concerned about the amount of social network use at work. There are two real concerns here: firstly that employees will be downloading applications from social networks and putting security at risk; and secondly the amount of corporate bandwidth that appears to be being used for non-corporate activity.”
Indeed, security is an issue for IT managers and businesses here and, as a security business, Network Box of course highlights it.
And, indeed, the corporate bandwidth is an issue as well.
The real questions to ask here are:
1) What amount of all this traffic is being used for business purposes?
2) What amount is being used for non-corporate activity?
3) What is non-corporate activity?
Obviously, when you watch the latest hit of your favorite pop star during a lunch break, you are not using the bandwidth of your employer for business purposes, you are just having fun.
And if you use Facebook to check on the updates of your friends or to see what your partner is doing, you are engaging in personal activities.
Wasting time on social media: productivity and conversations
I wonder how many employees use(d) their “work telephone” to make a quick call home to check how their kids are doing, to see if their partner is feeling any better because he or she had a fever this morning or to know what to get from the grocery shop.
I also wonder how many employees today use Facebook, Twitter, etc. to do this in this social networking age, and if it has lowered the phone bill of your business.
Next I wonder if the performance of your employees suffers when they use their lunch break to find some online entertainment on YouTube or if they get in touch with their loved ones via social networks, email or whatever, now and then.
And finally, I wonder what percentage of that YouTube and Facebook traffic is used to learn something new that is related to the job, to connect with customers or to ‘like’ the updates on the corporate Facebook fan page.
Of course, there will always be people who just need to know what the limits are. That’s why policies and agreements exist. And I imagine that business know what “conversations” are so I guess they can have them with their internal customers, their employees, as well of things get a bit out of hand (if you’re good you’ll talk BEFORE things get out of hand).
But concluding that “Employees Waste “Hours” On Facebook, YouTube” as MediaPost concluded in its title is simply wrong and nowhere the people of Network Box say this.
A last thought: if you ever plan to use social media marketing in a professional and strategic way, it’s not bad to have some employees on board who know how stuff works.
The rest is up to you, as a manager or business owner and the agreements you have with your employees.
I rest my case. Anyone?
You can read the post of Network Box here.