Posted October 26, 2009 10:15 am by with 5 comments

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Twitter iconHeadline seem like it’s over the top? Maybe a little but a report has been released making the claim that Twitter costs the British economy 1.38 billion pounds on an annual basis. That’s a boat load of pounds! (We miss you Carol. Please say something outrageous soon, please!).

Regular readers will know how I tend to be a skeptic first on any surveys / research / reports that claim anything because let’s face it, most things are hard to quantify and even harder to draw definitive conclusions from. This one, which was reported in the Telegraph, set off the ‘Research Report Red Light’ quickly but it sounded just silly enough to look into further. The report says

More than half of office workers use sites like Twitter and Facebook for personal use during the working day, and admit wasting an average of 40 minutes a week each.

One in three of the 1,460 office workers surveyed also said they had seen sensitive company information posted on social networking sites, leading to fears about how workers use the internet.

I have to admit that when I saw the headline I immediately assumed (Never assume because it does something to us, right? Go to the 4:40 mark on this one for a classic laugh) that this was about employees and time wasting. While that is a component of it the loss or theft of proprietary company information is a genuine threat. I never think about it because it seems as ridiculous and classless as you can get but there are folks that would do such things. Why I am so surprised is kind of silly in and of itself but I digress.

Now the survey was funded by an IT company that likely helps companies combat this kind of thing so there may be ulterior motives (really?!).

Philip Wicks, consultant at Morse, the IT services and technology company who commissioned the survey, said the true cost to the economy could be substantially higher than the £1.38bn estimate.

I think the real laughable part of this kind of study is trying to put actual monetary values to the lost time and data. That is not something that is a reliable measure. What is important though is the fact that it does happen and that companies everywhere need to be more on top of the social media activities of the employees. It looks like those surveyed, however, don’t work for companies that are paying attention.

Three quarters of the office workers surveyed said their employer had not given them any specific guidelines on how to use Twitter, but 84 per cent believed it should be up to them what they post online.

So how much time to you waste spend online at the office that may not be directly related to your work? C’mon, tell the truth. We won’t let anyone know unless they stop by on their ‘free time’ and see your comments. We here at marketing Pilgrim consider that as the best use of your work time we could imagine!

  • Doubtless people fritter away hours and hours on things like Twitter and Facebook over the year. However, we also fritter away hours and hours on fruitless searches on Google et al. Currently, 52% of searches we make don’t produce what we want and we have to search again (wasting more productive time). Spending time on Twitter, Facebook, Google etc all take us away from working time and it would be possible to calculate the apparent “loss”. But what this survey does not seem to do is take into account the gain that Twitter provides in terms of reaching a marketplace at lower costs. As always, there is another side to the story to consider.
    .-= Graham Jones – Internet Psychologist´s last blog ..Searchers aren’t looking to buy online =-.

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  • 10 years ago, I remember writing about, shock horror, how email was costing the workplace fortunes in lost time because employees were using it to flirt online. Now everybody takes it for granted. Today’s 20 somethings cannot fathom arranging their sex life without the use of electronic aids (the virtual aids, as opposed to the manual ones).
    .-= Louis Halpern´s last blog ..Maximise the UK’s £1.4bn Twitter time =-.

  • How come that 1 website could be responsible for British economy?