The vast majority of employees use their mobile devices to check social media websites on a daily basis, regardless of company policy, a new survey shows. But what they're doing is more than just lollygagging around the digital water cooler — the primary reason is to interact with co-workers.
Three out of four workers (75 percent) access social media on the job from their mobile devices at least once a day, and 60 percent access it multiple times, according to a survey of more than 1,100 employees in North America conducted by SilkRoad Technologies, a social talent management software company.
With the proliferation of smartphone use, this practice is expected to grow, SilkRoad said.
But they're not goofing off, the survey shows. Nearly half (49 percent) said that connecting with co-workers was the top reason they used social media at work, followed by connecting with others on a fun social platform (47 percent) and connecting with customers (44 percent).
Other leading reasons for using social media at work included having a platform for sharing work-related content and collaborating to drive new ideas and innovative thinking.
When it comes to interacting with customers through social platforms, marketers lead the way. Over a quarter (26 percent) of people who say they use social media to connect with customers are in marketing, the survey found. Surprisingly, customer support and product management reported infrequent use of social media to contact customers (3.1 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively).
This may indicate a continuing reliance on legacy systems, SilkRoad said.
Twitter is overwhelmingly the most popular social media site accessed at work for both personal and professional use (70 percent), followed by Facebook (65 percent) and LinkedIn (51 percent). Corporate intranets and other internally built systems came in a distant fourth at 19 percent.
Businesses have recognized that resistance is futile. The survey found there was no difference between light and heavy use at companies with monitored, blocked or restricted sites.
"Employees will use social media during the workday," said Flip Filipowski, CEO, SilkRoad Technology. "These findings make it clear: companies can either find ways to use social media to achieve measureable business results, or they can ignore it at their own peril. There is a common misperception that people only use social media for personal reasons. This research proves that people are looking to social media to help them be better at their jobs — including connecting with co-workers and customers."