Honestly, I’m not sure if I remember what my life was like before my iPhone or if I even want to. I have access to maps, internet search engines, social networks, and a variety of applications to fulfill almost every want, need, and desire. A recent study by Ball State and the Institute for Mobile Media Research found that college students are the fasting growing smart phone market segment. Not surprisingly students are using these powerful mini-computers for both their personal and academic needs. While I’m far from being a college student, these smart phones like the iPhone have made connecting, managing work and family, and networking even easier.
The ability of smartphones to link users to popular social networking sites may be another major reason college students are buying the devices in large numbers. The survey found that about 65 percent of respondents use their smartphones to access social networking sites. Oddly enough, the fastest growing age segment on FaceBook is not college students at all. InsideFaceBook.com reports that while FaceBook is still the fatest growing social media platform in the United States, almost half (50%) of US Facebook users are older than 35, and nearly one-fifth top 45.
So when and how are these experienced business professionals accessing these sites? Well, it is certainly not from their work PC. A recent survey commissioned by Robert Half found that over fifty percent of workplaces in the United States block these social networking websites while another 19% only permitted their employees to visit social networking sites like Twitter, FaceBook, Ning sites, and Myspace but only for business purposes. And with more than 3 out of 4 people owning cell phones, chances are these experienced professionals are surfing their favorite social network and catching up but not from their work computer. Your star professionals are accessing blocked websites from their smart phone computer without restriction or monitoring.
- Lost Productivity. Decision makers develop a social media and internet policy and disallow workers from viewing risky content and non-business related social media platforms. Employees work hard to stay informed on the do’s and don’t around the office and use smart phones as a way to work around. Nucleus Research reports that companies who ban FaceBook costs businesses 1.5% of lost productivity in the workplace. Don’t even get me started on the number of hours wasted by decision makers and HR professionals who sit in committee meetings discussing what sites to include, not to include, and verbiage of their internet and social media policy.
- Proxies. These are sneaky little ways to get around blocked websites. Google boasts almost 7 million websites that list the word proxy. For as little as $9.95 a month (and sometimes even free), job seekers can purchase proxy access to access company restricted websites through a proxy website. Don’t believe me, look at the Google search results for yourself. Not sure if your IT guy is up to snuff? Ask him his opinions about proxies.
- A Relevant Business Need. If more than half of the U.S. users on FaceBook are of the age 35 or older, chances are these professionals are using the site for legitimate business purposes. I often use my FaceBook network as a way to give me a quick answer to a question almost like my online Phone-a-Friend option for everything from sales leads, to phone numbers, to the latest basketball scores because my morale is directly tied to my productivity in the office.
- Stay Current. With market trends, business news, and just information in general. Several years ago I learned about a large layoff that was occurring later that morning via an email before the layoff was announced to the public. This email was sent to my personal email account which I had access to on my smart phone. My team and I were able to react quickly and before our competition. Situations like these have happened more than once. Do you want your team to miss out on a once in a lifetime opportunity for your business?