According to Shel Holtz’ insightful blog, a shel of my former self, employers are increasingly blocking Facebook usage for fear that it cuts into employee productivity. Okay, collectively now: Duh!
His posting, Facebook Blocking: It Doesn’t Add Up, cites several UK and Australian examples of corporate constraint amid fears of dings to productivity. Shel raises a valid point about whether or not employers’ fears are based on solid evidence that accessing Facebook or any other form of social media is time wasted or part of legitimate networking.
Enter Twitter. The More With Les Learning Community discussed Twitter some weeks ago. Robert Scoble, writing in the September 2007 issue of Fast Company, says since its introduction last spring, Twitter has been one of the fastest growing applications in internet history. He describes Twitter as a “microblog service in which you tell people what you are doing or thinking at any given moment, limited to 140 characters.”
The point is it adds up to a new way to share information, like Facebook and MySpace. Twitter appears to be finding a legitimate place in sales and marketing. Scoble extolls the value of the “professional intimacy” use of Twitter can generate. He cites a valuable truth about sales and marketing, that people do business with people they like. If by sharing information on personal tastes, ideology, or actions, people can get to know you better, perhaps even develop some trust, then part of the sales and marketing battle is won.
Twitter also demonstrates to potential clients and customers that you are available. With both Twitter and Facebook, users give out much information on what they are doing right now. For the savvy sales and marketing type, that signals an oppportunity. Maybe you need a product or service at the moment. I can help.
This brings us back to the blocking of Facebook or other forms of social media by employers: maybe their employees are finding innovative and high-potential business contacts via social media. It would be wise to know what’s what before blocking employee access.