Social networking sites "good for businesses"

Wed Oct 29, 2008 10:21am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Good news for workers addicted to Facebook, Bebo and MySpace -- a British think-tank says bosses should not stop their staff using social networking sites because they could actually benefit their firms.

The report by Demos said encouraging employees to use networking technologies to build relationships and closer links with colleagues and customers could help businesses rather than damage them.

Author Peter Bradwell said that while companies were using specific systems to share information, online social networking sites could also play a role, helping with productivity, innovation and democratic working.

However, he said there should be practical guidelines to limit non-work usage.

"Bans on Facebook or YouTube are in any case almost impossible to enforce; firms may as well try to put a time limit on the numbers of minutes allowed each day for gossiping," he wrote.

"The answer is not to close down staff access to social network platforms, nor is it investing blindly in collaborative platforms.

"Rather, we argue that we need to understand how, once we accept the implications of social networks, we can manage the new challenges and trade-offs."

His research concluded that trying to control the use of sites such as Facebook, which alone boasts more than 100 million users worldwide, could even harm organizations.

"Smart" businesses recognized that social networking could not easily be separated from "professional" networking, he argued.   Continued...

<p>A sample Facebook profile is seen in an undated handout image. REUTERS/Facebook/Handout</p>