Social networking sites have been on a steady climb in terms of popularity. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and others are not only being used for entertainment and personal pleasure, but also as avenues for marketing and increased exposure within the business world. Although such sites provide an excellent medium to connect with others, they can also present adverse effects, as a recent study by Panda Security has revealed.
On Wednesday, Panda Security released its new study titled “Social Media Risk Index for Small to Medium Sized Businesses.” The study focused on how social media use by employees within the workplace has affected businesses. The study surveyed 315 small and medium businesses within the month of July. Each of the businesses had a workforce of 1,000 employees or less.
In a revelation that's not surprising, the study found that employee productivity loss was the most widespread effect among businesses, with just over 38 percent claiming it had occurred. Coming in second was malware or virus infection caused by social media, which struck 33 percent of the businesses interviewed. Privacy violations resulting in sensitive loss of data affected 23 percent, while 28 percent cited no effects from social media within their work environment. Network performance and utilization problems interrupted 19 percent, and 17 percent experienced reputation damage. Only 8 percent of businesses surveyed cited that they were unsure of any effects.
The decline in employee productivity as a result of social networking on the job is a major problem that many businesses must cope with. Some people view sites such as Facebook and Twitter as vital parts of their lives, and stepping away from them even while at work is a tough pill to swallow. This can negatively impact their focus and efficiency, which hurts the business' bottom line in the form of wasted man-hours. According to Panda's study, financial losses as a result of social media impacted 35 percent of the participants. In one-third of those cases, the monetary losses exceeded $5,000.
Facebook was cited as the top offender when it came to malware infections, as 71 percent of those reported came from the heavily popular site. It also was deemed as the top offender in terms of privacy violations at 73 percent. YouTube was next on the list, with Twitter coming in third. The businesses that experienced actual financial losses from malware attacks via social media claimed that Facebook was once again the main culprit. Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn followed, in that order.
Although the study's findings may indicate a lack of supervision and preventative measures on the businesses' parts, the opposite is true. In all, 25 percent claimed that they blocked social networking sites entirely, while 57 percent stated they had specific policies regarding social media. Taking things one step further, 64 percent instituted formal training to educate workers on both the good and bad of social networks.
While several negatives can be attributed to social media, its positive impacts make it a necessary tool for many businesses. A majority of the participating businesses, 78 percent to be exact, stated that they use social networking sites to not only market themselves and increase revenue, but also to improve their customer service and perform research.
For more, visit http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-20016517-83.html?tag=mncol;title
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