We recently published data that analyzed application activity in more than 1,250 organizations worldwide and confirmed what most assumed to be the case: that Facebook is indeed the dominant player in social networking, consuming 87% of all social networking bandwidth observed. However, what was somewhat surprising is that social networking has not slowed the usage of webmail (personal use email) or IM. Quite the contrary, in fact, compared with 12 months ago these application categories are very healthy with IM traffic, as a percentage of overall traffic more than doubling; while webmail increased nearly 5 fold.
Our data (the largest sample ever published) also refutes a few assumptions:
- 80% of the bandwidth attributed to Facebook is merely people working while watching for updates. Therefore, the argument that Facebook is killing productivity—conjuring images of Facebonkers and Farmville Freaks—is simply unfounded.
- While employees are socializing via Facebook and the other 60 or so social networking applications found, they continue to also do so via IM and webmail. In other words, the modern-day, multi-tasking workforce is showing us that online communication is not a zero-sum game.
What About our Facebook Friends in Europe?
The beauty of a large, global sample size is that there are many layers to peel back (much like an onion or ogres if you are fan of the movie Shrek). In our Country Specific Findings, an Addendum to the latest Application usage and Risk report, we take a more detailed look at the social aspects of the workplace for Benelux, France, Germany, Italy, Nordics, Spain and the UK. The findings show a widely varied picture of social networking traffic, specifically Facebook.
In Benelux, David Slays Goliath.
- Benelux was one of several countries where the dominating popularity of Facebook was muted by local social networking applications. Hyves, a local social networking application consumed 42% of the overall social networking bandwidth while Facebook consumed only 29%.
The French are Social Butterflies.
- Relative to social networking, Facebook usage is more active with Facebook Apps and Facebook Posting consuming 3X the bandwidth when compared to the global view while Facebook Social Plugins was used more than twice as heavily.
German Usage is Locally Balanced.
- Facebook consumes 40% of the overall social networking bandwidth, yet four local social networking applications (Lokalisten, Meinvz, Studivz and Xing) combined to consume 27%.
Italian Users Get Plugged-In.
- Facebook dominates the Italian social networking market in several ways. First, it is the most heavily used in terms of bandwidth consumed. Second, the use of Social Plugins is abnormally high, consuming 29% of the social networking bandwidth, driven by the popularity of personal applications that have social plugins.
Social Plugins Crush All Nordics Competitors.
- In a show of dominance that caused us to re-check the data several times, Facebook Social Plugin consumed a staggering 86% of the overall social networking bandwidth. The heavy use of Social Plugins can be attributed, at least partially, to the popularity of Spotify, the streaming media application.
Have Spanish Users Forsaken Tuenti?
- The most surprising aspect of Spanish social networking traffic patterns was not the fact that Facebook was the most heavily used; it was how little Tuenti, a local social networking application, was used. Tuenti is in use, however, the volume of traffic measured was less than 1% of the overall social networking bandwidth. The
UK and Russia – a Hidden Social Networking Connection?
- Social networking traffic patterns showed that Facebook was most heavily used at 57%, but Vkontakte, a Russian social networking application also showed fairly heavy usage at 17% of overall social networking bandwidth.
The data shows that social networking is a juggernaut that is going to be nearly impossible to slow within the corporate world, much less outside of it. The business uses and benefits are pretty clear. Are there risks? Absolutely. Is productivity one of those risks, ? I do not think so and if so, it is relatively small. More importantly, would blocking social networking make an employee more productive? Unlikely.
Think about it. If an employee wants to waste time and cannot use option A (social networking), are they going to go and work on their latest project? More than likely they will move to option B or C – neither of which is what they should be doing.
Non-productive employees existed long before social networking became popular and addressing productivity is an HR and direct management issue; not a security issue.
Let us know what you think.
Download the country specific findings here: Country Specific Findings