October 22, 2010, 1:17 PM — Admitting that you access social networks on company time is a bit like admitting that you surf Internet porn. Hardly anyone cops to it (“oh no, I would never think of doing that”), but when they’re surveyed anonymously – or your IT geeks look at their usage logs – it turns out a surprisingly high number of people actually do it.
Obviously, visiting Facebook or Twitter carries less social stigma than, say, spending quality time at MajorLeagueGazongas.com. But the gap between social media perception and reality persists. Because, obviously, right-minded highly-productive and well-compensated employees would never spend three hours a day updating their status and watching cute videos of cats recommended by their friends. Right?
[ See also: Facebook + Bing: The Good, the Bad, & the Incontinent ]
Wrong. A survey released yesterday by next-generation security vendor Palo Alto Networks puts the lie to that notion in a big way. According to PAN, employees at 96 percent of corporations it surveys use some kind of social media application – virtually all of them Facebook. Twitter use clocked in second at 93 percent, followed by LinkedIn (86 percent) and MySpace (79 percent).
That doesn’t mean that 96 percent of all employees use Facebook, just that at least one person in almost every single enterprise is using it. And judging by the other numbers PAN collected, it’s a safe bet that most of them are.
What’s interesting about this data is that it reflects actual usage by PAN’s 723 major enterprise customers, not estimates or survey responses. Every six months PAN logs every single application used on its customers’ networks for a week. It then publishes a semi-annual report detailing every app used by every org, ranked in order of frequency.
Of the 931 apps PAN found on its customers’ networks, Facebook ranked sixth in frequency – behind fundamental network apps like DNS, SSL, and Web browsing, but ahead of Flash, SMTP, and RSS. Twitter ranked 13th, Gmail 14th, and YouTube 17th). Facebook alone consumed nearly 80 percent of the corporate bandwidth spent on social media, which itself is doubling year to year, per PAN.