Corporate Use of Social Networking Still an Executive Concern

According to a study by Russell Herder and Ethos Business Law, senior US marketing, management and HR executives are concerned about the risks of increased use of social networks within their companies. 51% percent of these executives fear social media could be detrimental to employee productivity, while 49% assert that using social media could damage company reputation.

Despite these apprehensions, says the study, social networking is being accepted as a key communications strategy. According to survey results:

  • 81% believe social media can enhance relationships with customers/clients
  • 81% agree it can build brand reputation
  • 69% feel such networking can be valuable in recruitment
  • 64% see it as a customer service tool
  • 46% think it can be used to enhance employee morale

The most popular vehicles being used include:

  • Facebook (80%)
  • Twitter (66%)
  • YouTube (55%)
  • LinkedIn (49%)
  • Blogs (43%)

Much of senior management's direct experience with social media appears to be reactive versus proactive, concludes the report. 72% of executives say that they, personally, visit social media sites at least weekly:

  • 52% to read what customers may be saying about their company
  • 47% to routinely monitor a competitors' use of social networking
  • 36% to see what their employees are sharing
  • 25% check the background of a prospective employee

The national survey, which assessed social media workplace trends and adoption of policies governing social media, found that fewer than one in three respondents say their organization has a policy in place to govern social media use and only 10% of companies have conducted employee training on it.

Social Media Vehicles Being Used (Multiple responses allowed)

Social Media

% of Respondents Using























Second Life




Source: Russell Herder And Ethos Business Law, August 2009

Executives believe social media can potentially be detrimental to employee effectiveness and company reputation, sys the report. Those surveyed who are not using social media on a corporate basis say non-implementation is primarily due to concern about confidentiality or security issues (40%), employee productivity (37%) or simply not knowing enough about it (51%).

This may be why many organizations continue to prohibit workplace access to social networking sites. The study found that 40 percent of companies technically block their employees from accessing social media while at work. At the same time, 26% of companies use social media to further corporate objectives and 70% said they plan to increase the use of these new opportunities.

Even though social media communication is growing, only one in 10 executives say they have staff who spend more than 50% of their time on such efforts, and only 13% have included social media in their organizations' crisis communications plans.

Carol Russell, CEO of Russell Herder, says "Ignoring the need for responsible guidelines can leave an organization open to unnecessary risk and can impede efforts to use social media proactively and competitively in the marketplace... "

And, according to Ethos President David Baer, good social media policies are organization-specific, taking into consideration the philosophy and culture of the organization. Good policies should include, he says, "the need to respect confidential and proprietary information, as well as the sensitivity of potential conflicts of interest."

To view the balance of the Whitepaper in a PDF file, please access it at (rhp_089_whitepaper.pdf) with this link.




2 comments about "Corporate Use of Social Networking Still an Executive Concern".
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  1. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing, August 27, 2009 at 4:55 p.m.

    I think the openness to the use of social media is inverse to the amount of time a company expects an employee to be working per day. A standard 8 to 5 job where you basically punch in and out it is easy for a Manager to say do this on your own time. But for say a high tech firm that expects 12 hour days or more 6 to 7 days a week, they have to allow use of social media so employees feel still part of the outside world. Plus if your working 14 hour days telling someone to do it on their own time is pretty hypocritical since technically those employees are working for the employer on their own time!

  2. Helen Sunny from Meeting Land, September 4, 2009 at 11:50 a.m.

    Meeting new people, communication is a part of our life. I think it's very useful both for a worker, and for the Company, where he or she works, to devote some time during the workday to social media. It helps to relax and distract from the work, and then, after a small interval, to work better and to look at the problems, which may take place, with a fresh mind and solve them much quicker. For example, the words of Ann (one of the members of the MeetingLand) about this topic in "About myself":

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