REPORT: Facebook Usage At Work Is Still Rising

Companies that are still fighting to keep their employees from using Facebook are apparently losing the battle, with games from Zynga scoring some significant victories.

Companies that are still fighting to keep their employees from using Facebook are apparently losing the battle, with games from Zynga scoring some significant victories, according to the latest research from Palo Alto Networks.

The firewall provider released the following statistics about Facebook usage in the workplace:

  • When measured as a percentage of total social networking bandwidth, active usage of Facebook applications, games, social plug-ins, and posting to Facebook more than tripled, to 28 percent in December 2011 from nine percent in October 2010.
  • The percentage of total social networking bandwidth consumed by Facebook apps alone also more than tripled over the same period, to 13 percent from four percent.
  • Zynga games were broken out as their own app ID in May 2011, and since then, they have been found in employee accounts at 53 percent of companies that participated in the study, accounting for some five percent of total social networking bandwidth.

Palo Alto Networks offered more details on its Facebook-related findings:

In previous reports, the analysis showed that the use of social networking was voyeuristic in nature; meaning that users would watch their Facebook wall or timeline while at work, much like how instant messaging has been used and is used today. Social networking applications are open on their desktop, but users are not actively posting, or using plug-ins or social networking applications. The latest analysis shows some fairly significant shifts in traffic when compared with the analysis from October 2010.

The year-over-year comparison shows that the percentage of social networking bandwidth consumed by Facebook applications more than tripled, growing from four percent to 13 percent. Social networking detractors will immediately jump to the conclusion that employees are wasting time playing games. While this may be true in some cases, many businesses have developed Facebook applications as an extension of their marketing and services offerings. Facebook applications and social plug-ins are becoming a mechanism to reach new markets, support existing customers, and strengthen relationships.

Zynga games: This set of Facebook applications was broken out as its own app ID in May 2011, and since its release, Zynga games were found in 53 percent of the participating organizations and consumed roughly five percent of the total social networking bandwidth. Unlike the other applications observed, these games are entertainment-focused, and, as such, may warrant more scrutiny and control from an application-usage-policy perspective.

Readers: Do you work for companies that restrict the use of Facebook and related applications? If so, how have you attempted to bend the rules?