The business potential of social networking sites remains largely untapped, says analyst Gartner.
Most users of social networking websites are motivated by personal needs and a desire for entertainment, rather than business and practical objectives, according to a recent survey of users.
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Gartner said that although the potential of such sites for business remains largely untapped, they will become increasingly important to the competiveness of large enterprises in the future.
"Social networking software holds enormous potential for improving the management of large companies," said Nick Ingelbrecht, an analyst 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," he said.
The survey of 4,000 PC and mobile phone users was undertaken across 18 countries and territories.
It found that 38% connected to social networking sites via a PC, fewer than 1% by mobile phone only, and 8% via both mobile phone and PC.
Over half the respondents said that they did not visit social networking sites regularly or at all. Of those who did, male respondents tended to access mobile and online social networking services more frequently than female, and the most active users were single people and teenagers.