Take one guess what you're coworker next to you is doing right now. If you guessed that they're putzing around on Twitter, you're probably right.
New research conducted by Palo Alto Networks, the network security company, reveals tremendous growth in use of social networks on corporate networks (i.e., at work) over the past year and a half. In fact, there has been a 300% increase in active social networking (this includes posting updates, app use, etc.) compared with the activity during the same period of time back in the latter half of 2010.
While overall use of social networks might have increased threefold, here's why you can probably assume your coworker is using Twitter instead of working: Twitter browsing at work alone grew by more than 700% in the past fourteen months. Palo Alto reports that since October 2010, out of the entire percentage of bandwidth consumed by social media activity at work, the portion of bandwidth consumed by Twitter increased from 3% to 21% (as of December 2011). The report goes on to explain the boom:
One explanation is the changes Twitter made to the application itself, allowing users to attach files and pictures to their 140 character missives. Another more meaningful reason, outside of its use as a social networking application for individuals, is that businesses are using it as a public relations, recruiting, and marketing tool.
But it's not like people aren't working while they're Twittering. Palo Alto continues:
Another reason is that Twitter has become a powerful tool that enables organizations, grass-roots or otherwise, to deliver their message to the masses quickly, effectively and repeatedly. There were examples where Twitter and other social networking applications significantly influenced the volume of news about, and visibility of, a particular world-news event.
And in case any of you bosses out there are worried about what percent of total bandwidth consumption is taken up by the use of social networks, the combined bandwidth used by the 71 applications included in this study only consumed 1% of total bandwidth.
So don't worry, bosses - we're still working.
Palo Alto included the following infographic to illustrate some of the other findings from their study.