By Claire West

If every employee spent just 20 minutes a day on non-work related social media activity it would cost a company with 100 employees on an average salary of $25k more than $50,000 a year. That's the finding of a new Social Media Cost Calculator presented by SpamTitan Technologies today, even as latest research shows that 76 per cent of SpamTitan customers feel under pressure to allow access to more Web 2.0 tools in the workplace.

Social networking sites are now so familiar and widespread that nearly a billion people are users globally, and businesses are keen to explore the possibilities such applications offer for engagement with consumers. The true cost of social networking in the office is of real concern, however. A 2010 survey of 1000 employees by MyJobGroup found that among those who use sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Myspace at work, one-third are spending more than 30 minutes a day and almost 6 per cent spend more than an hour. Such potential for lost productivity has major cost implications, especially for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

“The need for businesses to ensure social networking activity in the workplace is responsible and productive is fast becoming a major HR issue,” said SpamTitan Technologies’ CEO Ronan Kavanagh.

Simply blocking social media sites is not the solution however - many businesses do require some employees access networking sites to promote the company and engage with audiences. The main concern is ensuring that these employees can do their job without denting theirs or other productivity. Kavanagh added: “By working with IT, HR can help guide the company to safe internet use that is controlled but not blanket banned and where the organisation can safely embrace and reap the benefits of business Web 2.0 tools.”