Facebook is not always a waste of time

by Jason Preston on August 20, 2007

The Sydney Morning Herald proudly proclaims Facebook to be an office time-waster that costs Australian business $5bn annually:

Richard Cullen of SurfControl, an internet filtering company, estimates the site may be costing Australian businesses $5 billion a year. “Our analysis shows that Facebook is the new, and costly, time-waster,” he said.

The report calculates that if an employee spends an hour each day on Facebook, it costs the company more than $6200 a year. There are about 800,000 workplaces in Australia.

Needless to say, that’s playing fast and loose with the numbers. Of course the article goes on to quote Office Space-like employees who “averaged about 15 minutes of work per day,” (though, interestingly enough, this particular person doesn’t credit Facebook for her off-time).

Internet time-wasting is no doubt something that’s here, and should be kept in check, but this story smells a little bit like hyperbole to me.

Yes, there’s unproductive time spent on Facebook. Of all the social networks, it is the most college-oriented, and college is famous for nothing if not procrastination. But experiments have shown that a little bit of time spent engaging on Facebook can lead to some incredible ROI, or some great community and awareness building.

If you’re in the business of having customers (get it? that’s everyone), don’t be so quick to write Facebook off as the devil. If your team is on Facebook, chances are your customers are, too. Don’t throw that connection away if you don’t have to.

If you’ve ever spent some constructive time on Facebook, leave a story or a link in the comments (I know you’ve got at least one, Jeremiah).

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stephen Collins 08.20.07 at 1:46 pm

As a freelance consultant, I use Facebook daily to reconnect with peers and clients. It’s a critical part of my day. I got a bit cross at News Limited yesterday, generating two refuting posts:

- http://www.acidlabs.org/2007/08/20/australian-media-misleads-on-social-computing/
- http://www.acidlabs.org/2007/08/20/calling-aussie-media-do-a-positive-story-on-social-computing/

2 Des Walsh 08.20.07 at 4:50 pm

Very polite, Jason. The “analysis”, ie an outrageous extrapolation and it’s pathetic that our Australian news media would fall for such a cheap, attention-getting bit of garbage. We need more Australian companies joining the social networking world, not fewer. Of the claims in this bit of nonsense, an appropriate Australian comment might be “more hide than Ned Kelly” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ned_Kelly

3 Jason Preston 08.21.07 at 12:25 pm

@Des – I need to brush up on my Australian sayings, for sure ;)

4 Business coach 09.29.07 at 5:31 am

I think facebook can be really useful for business. It connect your business with the clients.

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