Businesses failing to exploit social networking

Social networking is still just for fun and not being used in businesses, according to a report from analyst house Gartner.

Despite the popularity of sites such as Facebook and MySpace, the model is yet to move to the corporate world. Unsurprisingly, a survey by Gartner showed that most people which use such sites do so for fun and entertainment, rather than business or more practical reasons but that should change the report said.

"Social networking software holds enormous potential for improving the management of large companies," said Nick Ingelbrecht, research director at Gartner. "However, work in this area is still immature and in the meantime companies should be aware of what is happening in the world of consumer social networking and implement appropriate usage policies for employees' use of services such as Facebook and MySpace on company time."

The survey polled 4,000 users across 18 countries. Half said they didn't access such sites at all, but the most active users were not surprisingly teenagers and single people. Despite the popularity of Facebook and others like it, those surveyed still ranked email and search as more important internet functions.

Of those that do use such sites, some 38 per cent look at their social networking sites via their PC, while less than one per cent do so by mobile phone only, and eight per cent use both but that looks set to change more and more people access the web over their mobile device.

"Social networking has found new forms of expression on the internet which has helped to reshape the purpose and protocols of social networking in the online world and beyond. How to apply this in a corporate environment will be the next major challenge," said Julia Lin, project manager of research data and analytics at Gartner.