Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Study uncovers surprising social networking trends

posted by Andy Leff
Welcome back from Memorial Day, everyone! I hope you had a pleasant break from your energy-consuming business ventures (and cash-consuming gasoline prices).

I spent the morning getting back into the swing of things by trolling the blogosphere for interesting articles. I stumbled upon a fascinating article in a most unlikely place: Rent to Own Online. The site covered various studies, trends, legislation, news -- all the resources that impact business operations.

One article that caught my eye highlighted just-released survey results from the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp). Its key finding: 65 percent of business professionals now use personal AND professional networking sites.

Intrigued, I tracked down the original study: The Social Network Practitioner Consensus Survey, conducted by i4cp in conjunction with just this month. A total of 323 organizations participated.

Some of the highlights:

Professionals' top picks. LinkedIn, Yahoo! 360, and MySpace led the charge as the most popular sites for professionals.

New social networks for traditional business uses. Just over half (52 percent) of respondents whose organizations use social networking sites do it to keep internal staff and remote employees connected. Forty-seven percent tap the networks to connect with potential clients and showcase their skills. And 35 percent say they job-hunt through social networks.

Social networks as organizational IQ boosters. Over half (55 percent) of businesses who have internal social networks use them to share best practices with colleagues, while 49 percent use them to get answers to pressing issues or challenges.

Turn non-users into users. Some respondents don't use social networks. The top reason for 37 percent: They just don't know what networks to use. However, the majority of respondents (59 percent) said they would get on board with social networks if they knew it would assist their professional development. And 77 percent would definitely join the parade if they thought networks could aid organizational efficiency.

Interesting stuff. For me, the study raises as many questions as it answers. How do organizations set up these networks? How do they choose them? Do the business managers run them, or do they require IT staff and support? Do they rely on external networks, or build them internally? How do they get employees on board? And what do social networks offer to smaller businesses who have lean staffs?

I'm trying to get in touch with Jay Jamrog, i4cp senior vice president, to see what more there might be to this study, and see if he'd like to join me in a podcast to discuss same. Stay tuned.

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