I was presenting at the Wealth Enhancement Forum last week on social media and the business opportunity it presents.

I was asked several months back if I would do it and I said I would be happy to share my thoughts with the group. I managed to get about five slides into a presentation before the quick fire round started and the questions started to come thick and fast. I found it extremely interesting to hear this group of wealthy business owners talking about social networks and the varying ways in which they or their staff use them.

I will be honest here and say that most of my clients tend to be marketing directors but I do deal with some business owners as I am sure most PR people do. Surprisingly, on the whole 85% of the room weren’t on any social network whatsoever. By far the most widely used social channel was Linked-in. To be honest it still amazes me how many people still pay for courses on how to use linked-in but that’s for another time and another post.

Anyway the thing that interested me the most was the fact that employers still seem to be totally comfortable with blocking the social networks for their employees. Most of these business owners believed that if they let their employees have access to social media they will just play around and start organising their evenings out rather than doing what they call ‘real work’.

Now my opinion on this is clear, I think the use of social networks should be encouraged for all the benefits I often talk about here on the blog but I do know where they are coming from. At one of my previous employers one of my team members used to spend an awful long time on Facebook claiming they were researching for outreach programmes etc. I don’t mind the occasional use of it for fun purposes either as it is now part of our society but using it for hours on end can be counter productive for any employer.

So my question is this. In 2010, now that Facebook is more than six years old and the shine has dimmed a bit – is it still right for employers to block social network usage altogether or should they be encouraging their staff to network and communicate?

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About Chris Norton

Chris Norton is the founder of Prohibition and an award winning communications consultant with more than twenty years’ experience. He was a lecturer at Leeds Beckett University and has had a varied PR career having worked both in-house and in a number of large consultancies. He is an Integrated PR and social media blogger and writes on a wide variety of blogs across a huge amount of topics from digital marketing, social media marketing right through to technology and crisis management.