Results Social Networking Survey – Part 2

The popularity of social networking is unstoppable.  With worldwide over 400 million Facebook accounts (2 million plus in Belgium), 50 million LinkedIn accounts (600.000 in Belgium), over 1 billion tweets/month the statistics are mindboggling.  Studies show that we spend over 5 hours per month in social networking activities (source: Nielsen Company, 2010).

Where my initial survey focused on identifying some basic parameters such as which social networking and how people participated, the follow-up survey focuses more on certain habits when taking part in social networking activities. With over 250 responses, I can claim that it is representative.

One of the side conclusions of the follow up survey is that about 10% of the e-mail addresses used in business focused social networks do not work!  These are dead accounts.

The majority of the surveyed audience indicated that business was the major driver to get involved in social networking, and the behavior reflects this:

Question 1: What is the frequency of your participation to social networking?

Daily Weekly Monthly
Business (e.g. LinkedIn) 40,90% 42,30% 16,80%
Personal (e.g. Facebook) 32,20% 34,20% 33,60%
Multimedia (e.g. YouTube) 16,00% 44,00% 40,00%
Communication (e.g. Twitter) 27,20% 23,90% 48,90%
Blogging (e.g. WordPress) 12,90% 34,10% 52,90%
Gaming (e.g. WOW, Farmville) 10,00% 14,00% 76,00%

The top 3 categories (Business, Personal and Multimedia) from the previous survey are hereby confirmed and from the looks of it 2/3rd of the interviewed people go to these applications at least once a week.  Business social networking seems to become a daily activity and part of the professional’s daily work routine.

There are number of concerns that companies have when it comes down to using the company’s infrastructure.  The concerns extend from hardware to software.  Previous survey demonstrated that participants use both the company PC (85%) as well as their personal PC (72%) to get involved with social networking.  Not only CIOs and IT managers must be concerned about security and identity theft but also companies must be aware that people using their business email address can be a liability as proven by the following 3 questions.

Question 2: What email address do you use for business social networking?

Personal Email Address 41,10%
Business Email Address 57,50%
Not Participating 1,40%

Question 3: What email address do you use for personal social networking?

Personal Email Address 64,50%
Business Email Address 12,10%
Not Participating 23,40%

The good news is that people try and keep their personal from business social networking but this does still leave the door open for identity theft and other malware attacks.  We have to keep in mind that if you are using your company email address, it might be considered that all your posts are in name of the company since most people do not use any disclaimer in their comments.

In terms of the identity we take on in the different networks it seems we are very ethical.  An overwhelming number of people do the social networking under their own name.

Question 4: What identity are you using in the different social media?

Real name Alias/pseudonym Not participating/Do not know
Business Social Networks (LinkedIn, Plaxo, Xing, Etc.) 97,20% 0,50% 2,30%
Personal Social Networks (Facebook, Bebo, Hyves, Netlog) 65,90% 5,10% 29,00%
Communications Social Networks (Twitter, WordPress, Blogger) 26,20% 13,60% 60,30%
Multimedia Social Networks (YouTube, Flickr, Picasa) 24,30% 23,40% 52,30%
Collaboration Social Networks (Stumble, Digg, Wikipedia) 12,10% 7,90% 79,00%
Review and Opinion Sites (GoogleAnswers, Yelp, Mouthshut) 8,00% 7,90% 83,20%
Entertainment and Gaming (SecondLife, WOW, Sims) 3,70% 10,70% 5,50%

The answers to the next 2 questions are really more disconcerting.  When it comes down to protecting ourselves and the company we go very lightly over a number of topics.  The first item is accepting “blindly” the Terms of Service of the social networks when you sign up.  Over 55% down not even stop and think what these terms are or mean.  Less than 10% do read them…

Question 5: How long do you take to read the “Terms of Service” when accepting to participate in a social network?

No, I just press “I accept” and hope for the best 41,10%
Yes, read first line (5 seconds) 14,50%
Yes, briefly (30 seconds to 1 minute) 36,00%
Yes, very carefully (more than 5 minutes) 8,40%

From a legal point of view this could be used against the person or his/her company.  Some of these “Terms of Service” have specific rules and regulations e.g. you can not use an alias, or have to be a certain age, are not allowed to do certain things, etc.  This could come back to bite you in the end.

When it comes to modifying the security settings we fare a little better.

Question 6: Do you modify the standard security setttings?

Yes 44,90%
No 31,30%
Sometimes 23,80%

Still a third of the surveyed people admit to using the standard settings hoping that the provider will automatically choose the best to protect your identity.  Think again before you leave these doors open…

Finally, I tried to understand whether people would want to get trained on the subject of social networking or a specific application.  My feeling is confirmed that we are a “we-do-not-read-the-manual” generation.  As with any gadget or software we buy, we tend to think we do not need to “learn” how to use it.  Just think about the last time you bought a digital camera, car, DVD player, etc. Did you read the manual?  Nope, you just switched it on and it worked.  You only go back to the book (or the internet, since you do not know where you left the book) when you are really stuck.

Question 7: Would you want to have some training (possibly paid for by the company)?

Yes 41,60%
No 58,40%

Looking at type of training in demand, LinkedIn is the #1 by far on the list.  This followed by Twitter and Xing/Plaxo.  This confirms the business direction of social networking amongst the people surveyed.

Question 8: Would you want to pay for it yourself?

Yes 17,30%
No 82,70%

The answer is clear!

As more and more people are getting on board using different types of platforms, social networking in the workspace will not be able to be contained or blocked.  It is becoming a strong marketing tool that any company will want to use.  Whether it is regulating the infrastructure bit (hardware and software usage, email address usage, etc.) or the operational bit (when, how, where, etc.) the need for some guidelines, call it a “social networking policy”, are needed more than ever.


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