According to WorkLight newly published research into the success of social networking sites such as Facebook released this week proves the business interaction case for using these portals at work. Given that WorkLight have the audacity to describe itself as an 'Enterprise 2.0 Company' my gut reaction is to think: file under Many Rice-Davies Applies, or well it would say that.

The Nielsen Online research did indeed show that two thirds of people online in the UK, or 20.8 million of us, visited at least one of the top ten social networking sites during January this year. However, when you look at the breakdown and realize that YouTube is top of the pops on 10.4 million unique visitors, followed by Wikipedia on 9.6 million and Facebook on 8.5 million you do, surely, have to start wondering what the hell this has to do with a business case for anything. Yes, it does prove that social networking is no longer a niche but rather a mainstay of UK Internet usage, but it is quite obviously consumer and leisure usage that rules the roost. How many enterprises really need to visit YouTube or Facebook on a regular basis for fear of their businesses crashing around them if they don't?

David Lavenda, WorkLight's vice president of marketing and product strategy, tries his best to make the case: "Nielsen Online's research shows that social networking sites remain highly popular amongst UK Internet users. This makes their use for internal corporate collaboration and professional networking an attractive and viable business tool. At the same time, there are potentially major security ramifications for companies that use social networking sites without adequate safeguards." According to Lavenda, the figures speak for themselves, 63% of online adults visiting a top ten social media site during January. "This is 21 per cent higher than the 17.1 million recorded a year earlier" he insists, adding that social networking portals are becoming a real business platform for leveraging personal and professional connections to get work done. "We're seeing more and more companies opening up to the use of social networks, as long as enterprise-grade security is guaranteed."

Uh huh. Well slap me with a kipper and call me Rita, but I still don't get it. As far as the business market is concerned social networking does very much remain a niche, and a pretty teensy weensy one at that...

About the Author

A freelance technology journalist for 30 years, I have been a Contributing Editor at PC Pro (one of the best selling computer magazines in the UK) for most of them. As well as currently contributing to, The Times and Sunday Times via Raconteur Special Reports, SC Magazine UK, Digital Health, IT Pro and Infosecurity Magazine, I am also something of a prolific author. My last book, Being Virtual: Who You Really are Online, which was published in 2008 as part of the Science Museum TechKnow Series by John Wiley & Sons. I am also the only three times winner (2006, 2008, 2010) of the BT Information Security Journalist of the Year title, and was humbled to be presented with the ‘Enigma Award’ for a ‘lifetime contribution to information security journalism’ in 2011 despite my life being far from over...