How much does Facebook cost your business?

In the past few years social media has revolutionised the way we socialise and communicate. It is suggested that over 75% of internet users are a member of a social networking site, translating to over 1 billion users worldwide, a figure that will continue to grow during 2011 at expediential rates.

I am sure you have read your fair share of articles or blog posts about best practice to make these sites work for your business. These sites offer a great opportunity for you to communicate and market directly to your consumers without the costs associated with traditional forms of media. Rather than talk about the many benefits social networking has to your business, in this blog post I am going to set about confronting how much social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter may be costing your business and how you might control these costs.

‘But Facebook is free,’ you’re thinking – well, yes, these social networking sites are free to their users but not to you, when paying for your employees time to use them.

It is suggested that over one hour of working time is wasted per employee, per day. A recent study undertaken by an MBA student claims that the main distraction at work is surfing the web. From those surveyed, 64% admitted regular personal use of the internet during working hours and 77% admitted to visiting Facebook at work. 1 in 33 said that they only used Facebook at work.

Based on the findings of this study, a small accommodation business with 5 staff, each being paid the national accommodation average wage of $16.20 per hour could be paying around $18,000 per year for its staff to surf the internet.

This is of course a basic calculation, but never the less; the principal behind this calculation will hopefully get you thinking about how much the cost to your business could be.

Many businesses try to respond to these kind of statistics by blocking certain sites on company computers and banning there use at work completely. This strategy may work well in some environments however perhaps in some environments a more pragmatic approach is called for.

In a world where employees often need access to social networking sites for work related purposes and many have access to mobile internet it is difficult to police internet use. Taking this into consideration perhaps encouraging your team to use these sites openly on their work computers in their break times or in quiet period’s acts as a motivator. This open minded approach will surely avoid your employees scrambling to close down these applications when a customer walks in the office or taking regular toilet breaks to check their Facebook page on their iPhone!

With the use of the internet increasing, the growing popularity of using social networking sites and the potential loss of productivity to your business, this is one area that you cannot afford to overlook.

2 Comments

  1. John Owens January 18, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    Excellent post, James. You address all of the salient issues.

    Like most things in business, it is all about taking a pragmatic and workable approach.

    In order to protect your business, it can be important to know what your staff is accessing on the internet. There are programmes out there that will allow you to monitor this.

    However, this can be taken to extremes. One CEO I know, in a reasonably large NZ business, spends many hours a day sitting in front of his computer watching every click his staff make! This is what he imagines being ‘in charge’ of a business is all about.

    One very effective way to avoid having staff waste time on the Internet is to employ highly motivated staff and put them in challenging positions that keep them interested and fulfilled throughout the day.

    Regards
    John

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