An open letter to those organisations who block Social Media sites….

Posted on Feb 7, 2011

Are you serious?

Seriously, are you serious?

Many of you will cite the reasons for blocking such sites as:

commercial sensitivity
security restrictions

But many of you (you know who you are) will be concerned over their employees wasting time!

Do you really think that if an employees ‘moral compass’ is sufficiently skewed to allow them to waste time at work that your blocking of social media sites will put them back on the ‘straight and narrow’?

I didn’t think you did!

Let’s be honest, if an employee wants to waste time at work they WILL find a way! Whether it is engaging in personal phone calls (you don’t block phone calls do you?), reading a magazine (you don’t block publications do you?), or gossiping (you don’t block talking do you?) employees WILL find a way to waste time!

But let me ask you to re-examine those communication methods shown in brackets above….

…. you don’t block them because they are excellent learning/communication/networking/collaborative tools – as are Social Media tools!

If an employee abuses them, do you banish the tool from your organisation? Of course you don’t, you expect their Line Manager to engage in Performance Management as you should if an employee abuses the use of Social Media tools.

If I haven’t managed to convince you yet, please read on…

If you think that blocking Social Media sites prevents employees from engaging with them during the working day then you are very much mistaken. In this era of internet enabled mobile devices employees can engage with social media sites regardless of whether you choose to block access to them from your organisations network.


OK then, you asked!

I am currently sat on the loo in work typing this blog post. Only, I hasten to add to provide some solitude not for any concurrent reason!

I have still been able to produce a blog post, here it is!

I have still been able to review my Twitter stream.

I have still been able to keep up with the conversation on the Learning and Skills group all from my personal mobile phone.

Has this impacted negatively on my work output? Well actually “Yes” it has! It has taken 4-5 times longer to type this blog post than it would have done on my desktop!

Now who’s wasting whose time?


  1. Hi Craig – Brilliant – I think all of us who have “seen the light” would say Amen to your letter – and the “sitting on the loo” example is one generated by a young graduate in my client – who also told us that the laptop she was given to use as a Bursary student was taken from her when she started work because of her lack of seniority! I ask you……

  2. Nice post, Craig! There’s nothing like making a point from the loo!

    Your ‘toilet’ post is touching on some of the many reasons organisations are considering secure ways to integrate social within their internal communications, ie. Yammer, Socialcast, Jive etc. Having real time access to one another within the company is vital for achieving increased performance in a networked society, but it does not go far enough. The content available via public services such as Twitter and even Facebook, allows an organisation to access real time content from a far wider source. Perhaps the question should be, does everyone need access to those external networks or should it be limited to those whose function it is to monitor the brand, ie. customer service.

    Although I’m totally on the same page with you, there is a necessity to protect the brand and corporate image at all costs, and although banning access to all public social sites is certainly not sensible, it does require a sensible strategy. Would it not be better to get sign-in’s from employees via HR through clear and concise social media policies, rather than simply turning off all external options. Once such policies are agreed and signed, if employees choose to break the rules there would be consequences, as in all disciplinary procedures, this also gives the company an official recall.

    There was an instance recently where the CEO of a clothing label mindlessly added a tweet in which he joked about the uprising in Egypt – of course he’ll never do it again, and of course he removed the tweet and send out an official apology which generated pages of ‘hate’ style replies on Facebook, but the point is, it really hurt his brand, some analysts estimate into the 100’s of thousands of dollars, ouch!

    When organisations consider the use of social media, which they most certainly need to, they also need to develop best practice strategies for protecting the brand. Banning access to sites is not the answer, as you’ve clearly demonstrated, neither is allowing everyone, without recall, to publicly discuss potentially brand damaging content. As always, there is a balance, smart companies realise this and are working to achieve this delicate balance and in doing so are seeing huge impact on the bottom line.

    Thanks for the inspiring post on a Monday afternoon.

    Final word and shameless promotion, should organisations need advice, we offer it. Feel free to get in touch via

    • @paul simbeck-hampson Some extremely valid points there Paul, I certainly recognise the need for an organisation to do what it can to protect itself so I have put together a DRAFT set of Social Media guidelines (I’ve deliberately steered clear of calling it a policy) Here is a copy of them here

      Only trouble now is getting the right people to see/review/sign off the guidelines. Of course I have suggested that we do it via Google Docs or a webinar….. I’ll let you finish the rest of that sentence! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • @CraigTaylor74 Well done mate. Not sure if it’s really necessary to go the whole hog and remove the policy word – as it should indeed be (or at least become) a policy that HR dish out and discuss with everyone. Good idea perhaps to begin with guidelines if your just running it off your own steam – once I’ve finished this comment will take a look at the link and come back… in the meantime, you should see others starting conversation here, because I just mentioned them in the livefyre post above… ๐Ÿ˜‰ I think your going to like this…

    • @simbeckhampson The reason I removed the word ‘policy’ is because I strongly believe that SoMe shouldn’t be treated any differently to conventional media i.e internet, telephone, print etc and that if adopted then SoMe should be absorbed into *that* policy not treated as anything different.

    • @CraigTaylor74 Possibly… that it has its own ‘policy’ seems pretty standard nowadays, especially if you consider it context to my example of the CEO above blowing it big time – if that had been an employee there would have been an uproar – as it was he just shot himself in the foot – whether that needs to be covered in a seperate policy or document or set of guidelines is perhaps arguable for each example… the important thing is that people need to know the rules and sign up for it… oooh, I could go on and on an on ๐Ÿ˜‰ as I do sometimes… c4lpt may be able to add her thoughts on this topic, I’m sure she has experiene that would be valuable… (note, by posting this out and accepting to post it to twitter too – Jane is instantly notified and can, if she has time, nip over and add her take – think your now getting the idea of Livefyre…

    • @simbeckhampson Yeah, I’ve just ducked over to TweetDeck and noticed all the mentions…. it’s like Christmas all over again!

    • @CraigTaylor74 I love it when people love it… and this can really be loved!

    • @CraigTaylor74 WOW… you have put some seriously hard work into the document. I’ve of course not read it all yet, but will return to it – very impressed mate.

  3. Great post Craig. Valid arguments. It’ll be interesting to see if the rising trend continues. I hope not but am not holding my breath.

    “The most blocked website was Facebook blocked by 14 percent of companies using blacklisting, it was close ahead of My Space with 10 percent and YouTube with 8 percent. Interestingly, Twitter, 2010’s trendsetter was chosen only by 2 percent of organisations. However, as a demonstration of the nature of the web, where one company’s time-waster is another company’s marketing outlet, the three leading whitelisted (eg sites that have been specifically been cleared for access) were YouTube, Facebook and Gmail.”


  4. Hey livefyr is looking good on your blog mate. When you type an ‘@’ symbol you get a list appear where you can choose either those registered on @LiveFyre as in this example or as in the twitter example at the start. I have also linked my facebook account so I can reference friends there too – as in this example karyn romeis – this calls them out and lets them know they have been mentioned in this post, bring them into the conversation. Also this is not just a comment but a live conversation, so when more people are on the blog commenting it all happens in real-time ๐Ÿ™‚ @CraigTaylor74 you getting this? craigtaylor for community support you can connect with @JennaLanger and on twitter as jennalanger – the Squirrel chief goes by the name of Jordon @JKretch on twitter jkretch – so that should get you up and running – only other thing is, you get points when others click on the thumbs up on your post – you get five points to start with and 1 for each thumbs up – so do click on my posts ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ve just seen now that a new comment has come through in real time… off to investigate… we can play a while til you get the hang of it if you like. Cheers… and welcome to the most innovative commenting platform ever made!

    • @simbeckhampson Now that was spooky!!! Just as I got to the bit about “calls them out…..” I received an email notification that you had replied to me. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOW! It’s like discovering fire all over again!

      I’ve been pushing a few peoples Tweets out onto Twitter and am looking forward to having a play around. Thanks ever so much for squaring this away for me and for this quick tutorial.

    • Thanks @simbeckhampson for showing this to @CraigTaylor74 ! Let us know if you have any questions, looking forward to the conversations on your blog.

    • @CraigTaylor74 Your welcome, its the least I can do for you after all the help you gave me out at #LT11UK – I hope @JennaLanger or another support member also adds anything I’ve missed, I’m a newbie myself, so still fumbling around. You’ve also got a web interface under settings so explore that too and trawl through the support documents on the Livefyre site.

    • @JennaLanger @CraigTaylor74 Good timing Jenna was singing your praises as you walked in on queue demonstrating the true power of this commenting system – would not suprise me if karyn romeis popped into soon too… now isn’t this more how live comments should work ๐Ÿ™‚

    • @JennaLanger @simbeckhampson Cheers Jenna, this is an awesome idea and one that deserves more recognition…..

      “To the Twittersphere”!…..

    • @simbeckhampson livefyr @LiveFyre karyn romeis @CraigTaylor74 craigtaylor @JennaLanger jennalanger @JKretch jkretch Yup… I got it, too! It’s a conversation. Twitter is my #1 learning tool. And I learned more from being a blogger while I was studying for my Master’s degree than I did from studying for my Master’s degree… if you see what I mean!

    • @simbeckhampson @JennaLanger karyn romeis Hey Karyn, didn’t think it would take you long to appear ๐Ÿ˜‰

      The fact that this feeds into Twitter and vice-versa is remarkable, what do you think kategraham23 sam burrough

    • @CraigTaylor74 @JennaLanger karyn romeis kategraham23 sam burrough Oh wow, now the cat is out of the bag… may have to ask @JKretch for a whole load of favours when everyone sees the power of this… perhaps we should all send him some squirrel nuts ๐Ÿ™‚ In case your wondering what squirrels have to do with it all, they are the CEO’s favourite animals…

    • @JennaLanger @CraigTaylor74 Thanks Jenna for making this happen, don’t be surprised if the entire learning community start asking for invites – we all do like to gossip and if they get excitied… well you can imagine ๐Ÿ™‚

    • @KarynRomeis Nice that you joined in, we thought you would ๐Ÿ™‚

    • @CraigTaylor74 You can also collapse threads – see the arrow at bottom of the last threaded comment – keeps things tidy too… you can also flag and share comments in their entirity to both facebook and twitter – just noticed that no spell check is occuring – @JennaLanger does Livefyre not have spell check too?

    • @simbeckhampson @CraigTaylor74 Spell checking does occur in most browsers, but some have reported it doesn’t show up in Firefox. I’ll have our engineers look into it, thanks.

    • @JennaLanger Thanks, I’m running Chrome 10.0.648

    • @simbeckhampson It occurs to me that I should have signed in as learning anorak, because this conversation belongs in that Twitter stream… Ah well. We lives and we learns, eh?

    • @KarynRomeis Aye… we do’s @learninganorak

      • Hi Paul,

        Are your LiveFyre comments appearing on your WP stats page? Mine have stopped integrating over the weekend and wondered if you had experience the same prob?

  5. Nice post. I’ve always been of the opinion that this kind of ‘time management’ is lazy management. We should manage people on outcomes, on what they produce and achieve and the route should be irrelevant. I think Daniel Pink has something to say on this.

    • @Lee74 daniel pink might like livefyre too… for sure he would ๐Ÿ™‚

    • @Lee74 I love that Dan Pink piece. Have you read Drive? The book that captures all of that thinking? Mindblowing. Finally, I feel vindicated. All these years when people have tried to motivate me with promises of great wealth, and I have been utterly unable to muster up any enthusiasm… turns out I’m not a freak, after all ;o)

  6. julie wedgwood Thanks for your tweet on my blog post. I’m busy experimenting with livefyr over here on my blog…. think you’re gonna like it!

  7. So I just can include @CraigTaylor74 @simbeckhampson and they show up?? Oooo!!!

    • @kategraham23 @CraigTaylor74 Hi Kate…

    • @simbeckhampson @kategraham23 How come Kate can comment if she doesn’t have a livefyre account?

    • @kategraham23 @CraigTaylor74 Kind off, we will be notified that some one is talking about us – you can have it setup to mention twitter firends, facebook friends or Livefyre connections… because to comment you dont need to have an account – you have it INSTALLED on your blog – you are ADMIN

    • @CraigTaylor74 That will be 30 comments on this post now mate… oops, no, 31 LOL

  8. Hi Craig, I suppose you’ve seen these 10 reasons NOT to ban social meadia

    • @C4LPT Amazing @CraigTaylor74 and in walks Jane herself – LOL, livefyre we salut you!

    • @C4LPT Hi Jane, Yeah I loved the post I’m just a little nervous about my organisation actually agreeing more with the ‘reasons to block’!!! LOL

  9. So think I just signed up for Livefyre….or at least linked it to my Twitter. Process was a bit clunky but end result seems exciting! And if the guru @C4LPT then we’re in the presence of social media greatness right ๐Ÿ™‚

    • @kategraham23 @C4LPT Well I think the demo of @LiveFyre has gone down rather well… @CraigTaylor74 I’m going to take a look at the link – try to get back on topic – so much excitement going on… back later, cheers.

  10. Hi Craig,

    Great post. I can just agree with your ideas. It’s a shame that so many companies still have this not-so-very-professional take on Social Media. I asume that when the phone was introduced there were a lot of companies that blocked that for the very same reasons. So it’s a shame that we haven’t come further in a hundred years. But I guess it’s in the nature of humans to be scared and over react to new phenomenoms (How the ยค=#() do I spell that??).

    I am sure that in maybe ten years time we will look back at 2011 and wonder why companies did like this (but at the same time be frustrated that the companies won’t let us use whatever is in store for 2021).

    Really like the look of livefyre. Which there was a version for Blogger as well. Will be interesting to follow this discussion to understand the power of this new toy.

    Have fun,

    • @mattiaskareld Nice to see you arrive here too ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m sure @JennaLanger can let you know when they expect other platform to be ready – Livefyre is currently in private beta…

    • @simbeckhampson @mattiaskareld Blogger version coming soon! Go ahead and sign up for the private beta at and we’ll send you an invite when we have the blogger plugin.

    • @JennaLanger @simbeckhampson Great to see you too Paul. Thanks for the very quick response Jenna. Signing up in a sec or two. A quick question: I thought I would get a tweet when mentioned. Haven’t received any, only mail.

    • @mattiaskareld There are three types of mentions – Livefyre mentions, Twitter mentions and Facebook mentions – When Jenna mentioned you above, she mentioned your Livefyre id, not your twtter id, which sends you a mail. If you type the ‘@’ symbol you’ll see a list below of users, ie your friends on the networks you’ve connected with…. if twitter and fb are connected you will be able to select those friends from that nework too – hope that helps.

  11. Hey everyone, Jordan from @LiveFyre here. Just wanted to drop in say how excited it is to see this conversation going on, you’ve all already mastered friend tagging ๐Ÿ™‚ Please let myself ( jkretch ) jenna langer or jeremy hicks know if there’s anything we can do to help, or if you have any feedback! Great post as well @CraigTaylor74 , corporate social media blocking is something we have to deal with as well. People can’t sign in to comment using Facebook or Twitter from networks that block all access to those services.

    • Always a nice touch to see the boss turn up personally, and I know you do it beyond the call of duty, kudos. @JKretch

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