Employers Can Make the Best of Social Networking
For employees on the job, Facebook and Youtube can be big distractions. But Web 2.0 is not all bad. When used responsibly, blogs and social networking pages can boost worker productivity and morale. So how does an employer separate the good from the bad?
For a role model, the employer could look to the US military. Last year it blocked Youtube from its networks because the video site is a bandwidth pig and often features questionable material. But the Department of Defense knew that Youtube served a valuable purpose — enabling soldiers to communicate back home. So the Department launched its own “TroopTube,” a supervised Web 2.0 service for people (like soldiers and their families) known to be connected with the military.
See: Heather Havenstein, “Military gets own social network after YouTube is blocked,” Computerworld, November 12, 2008.
Similar results are available to any employer, often at very reasonable costs. A small-to-mid-sized employer might for example use CyberPatrol to block undesired sites like Myspace. Then it might use a service like Ning to set up dedicated blogs and social networking features for employees and other authorized people such as vendors. As a test, I just used Ning to set up a social networking site for my family. It took me only a minute. It’s free (with Google ads). Ning supports blogs, discussion groups, photo/video sharing, and so on.