Collaboration SuitesMarketingRegulationSocialMediaSoftwareWorkspace

Most Councils Now Allow Employees To Access Social Media

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Almost all councils in the UK permit some form of access to social media, a Socitm survey has revealed

Council workers regularly use social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, despite the fact that many commercial organisations are still banning it within the workplace.

The interesting finding came after a survey by Socitm, which showed that almost all councils now allow some access to social media, compared with just one third only two years ago.

Going Mainstream?

The Socitm survey revealed that all council workers potentially have access to Twitter in 44 percent of councils, although 54 percent of council seem to restrict access to certain workers. Only two percent of councils offer no access to Twitter.

Facebook is likewise being accessed to a similar degree. All workers have access in 42 percent of councils, but in 54 percent of councils, access is restricted to some workers. Just four percent of councils have no access to Facebook.

YouTube follows closely behind (41 percent, 51 percent and eight percent), with Flickr, Slideshare and Google Docs slightly less accessible.

Socitm reached these findings thanks to two identical surveys carried out in January 2012, one with CIOs, heads of ICT and equivalent, and a second with Web, communications, customer services, service and policy managers. A similar survey published in 2010 was limited to IT managers, however.

It seems that social media is being increasingly used by local government, after the survey showed that 84 percent of councils have a presence on Twitter, and 73 percent on Facebook.

Social Media Concerns

Councils have faced criticism over their use of social media in the past. For example Socitm has previously found that the majority of local authorities in the UK did not use their digital channels such as websites and social networks effectively enough to keep the public informed during the public sector strikes in December.

This is despite the fact that over half of UK adults currently use social networking sites, and local government has been encouraged to use social media to save money and improve services while improving their public image.

But still, universal adoption remains elusive for some public sector workers.

Facebook Bans

Last September, the government revealed that civil servants had been banned from accessing Facebook, but they are allowed to use Twitter and LinkedIn, providing it is for work reasons.

And a similar picture emerges when commercial organisations and their use of social media is considered.

A survey of British companies by security firm Clearswift last September found nearly a third (ie, one in three) are blocking employees from accessing social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Although it seems that many firms have staff dedicated to dealing with social media.

Another survey last May found that nearly half (48 percent) of British businesses have banned their employees from using social networking sites at work. A further 63 percent of firms actively discouraged their employees from using social networks at work.

Those findings echo a survey carried out by Webroot in 2010 which found that half of UK and US small to medium-sized businesses have banned their workers from accessing social networks at work.

TechweekEurope readers have previously identified LinkedIn as their social network of choice, followed by Google+ and then Facebook. However, readers have also said that social networks were a waste of time at work.

Are you an expert on social networks? Take our quiz.