This is most often fuelled by management’s fears over staff wasting time on the popular social-networking sites. But social networking and real work may not be such strange bedfellows.
Some companies believe that so-called Web 2.0 technologies can have a positive impact on a business’s bottom line – if deployed and managed in the right way.
‘The consumer is taking what they have at home and unleashing it into the organisation,’ says Ettienne Reinecke, chief technical officer of IT services firm Dimension Data. ‘You can use controls to block them, but that’s not the right thing to do – people will find ways around it.’
Getting around a company’s blocked-website list can be done by using one of the hundreds of proxy sites that allow anonymous web-surfing. Instead of trying to ban sites, argues Reinecke, businesses should be looking at them as opportunities.
‘For example, a lot of companies block YouTube, but I’ve seen companies who are putting training material on it,’ he explains.
Aside from social websites’ potential in internal communications, clever companies are already using them for a range of eclectic and often highly effective grassroots marketing campaigns.
In a now famous case study, upmarket blender manufacturer Blendtec uploaded a series of YouTube videos called ‘Will it blend?’, in which the company’s marketing manager George Wright, wearing a large pair of safety goggles, feeds everything from rake handles to an iPhone into the device (which are duly pulverised). The videos were a hit, sales jumped 20 percent, and Wright and his blender appeared on The Tonight Show opposite Jay Leno.
All for US$50 worth of props (and one iPhone) – not bad for a site on most corporate blacklists.