Harm your business, block Facebook

Harm your business, block Facebook

His research concluded that trying to control the use of sites such as Facebook, which alone boasts more than 100 million users worldwide, could even harm organizations.

This is a line from a news message Reuters pumped in the blogosphere today. Obviously, we can expect a lot of blog coverage about this matter. It’s saying exactly what we, early adopters, already knew: companies shouldn’t think you can control social networks. Better try to benefit from them.

British think-tank knows better

Demos, a British think-tank, studied the effects of social networking on business. Author Peter Bradwell concludes that when employees gossip, talk and share photos on Facebook, MySpace and others – it could actually benefit firms. It’s all part of professional networking and helps people keeping in touch with colleagues and customers.

However, there should be practical guidelines to limit non-work usage – Bradwell said. But blocking is not the way to go: “Allowing workers to have more freedom and flexibility might seem counterintuitive, but it appears to create business more capable of maintaining stability.”

“Banning Facebook and the like goes against the grain of how people want to interact. Often people are friends with colleagues through these networks and it is how some develop their relationships.”

How can companies get the most out of Facebook?

Demos doesn’t give firms any practical tips on how to get the most out of Facebook. Maybe we can get some together in the comments here. Moving some of the business related communication to a certain network might stimulate the right usage. But with my zero corporate experience, I think you guys should do the talking.

Read next: The rush for free blog traffic is calming down. Blogrush closes doors.