Written by: Justin Parks | October 26, 2009
I read a post today on Tech Radar that implied that twitter, facebook and social media in general was costing the British economy £1.38bn a year in lost revenue and income. Quite honestly this made me laugh, especially after I read the first comment on the post which summed the “survey” up nicely in my mind. If your interested in reading the article, go right ahead: Twitter ‘costs Britain £1.38bn’ Stop wasting time Tweeting, beg British employers
Centred on the UK alone and having surveyed only 1460 office workers about their use of social media and Philip Wicks, who conducted the survey thinks that the figure is actually higher than the official published results.
“When someone is asked for their own use they say around 40 minutes a week, but when asked about their colleagues they say they say up to an hour a day. We have used the lower of those figures rather than the high point,” said Wicks.
“It is the sort of thing people constantly use which means that it’s not quite the same as doing a crossword, where you spend half an hour on it and it is finished.
“When it comes to an office environment the use of these sites is clearly becoming a productivity black hole. Social networking can be a cause for good when it is used professionally but I think organisations need to wake up – that is not the way it is always being used.”
As I mentioned, the first comment on the article summed things up quite nicely:
Bollocks- that assumes that people would be doing something productive if they weren’t using Tiwtter. Did the survey take into account the money saved by people being online for longer. Utter self-serving tosh
Delving deeper into the original article from the Telegraph.co.uk, more balanced options refelcting this comment came to light in the form of David Clubb, managing director of Office Angels, a recruitment firm:
“As younger generations join the workplace, I believe UK businesses will, inevitably, have to embrace social networks, recognising the benefits of providing staff with well deserved downtime, but also their potential for business networking.”
Of course, the Telegraph article dives right back in to focus on the negative use of social media ad social networking straight away quoting some high profile stories about staff and their comments regarding clients from British Airways to Currys and PC World.
So thats the story. Social Media is driving the economy into even deeper debt due to the time spent using the various etworking tools and applications. Its in the paper, so it must be true. Yeah right.
Surveys cost the economy billions of wasted effort
I hate these types of surveys. If I wanted to I could find information reflecting on the “cost” of different actions. How having a washing your hands after the toilet costs the economy 55 billion in wasted time, how that extra coffee at lunch can cost us all 14 billion in lost revenue and of course, how surveys can cost businesses 199 billion a year in misguided results and analysis, forcing businesses to focus in on administrative costs and unnecessicary internal monitoring that costs even more money and in all probability only serves to loose more revenue and waste more time.
Realising the Results
Thats not to say that time isnt wasted on things like twitter and facebook, of course it is, just like time is wasted in any area of our working lives, from delayed trains, lengthy meetings or even, quite simply, bunking off work out of pure laziness (or a hangover :P) but these types of time loss and costs are, in the most part, unavoidable, or even accepted to some extent.
Really though, any self serving business is able to look past these types of results. Social Media has made a dent in the daily activities of millions of people and unlike other mediums, the systems can be used to help business, if businesses WANT and ALLOW them to. Maybe its time more businesses looked at exactly what they have at their disposal and investigated it a little further to understand if and how this could happen.