A recent interesting article in Management Today mentioned the research we conducted on how many small businesses in the UK have websites (answer: fewer than ought).

This was as part of a wider response to a recent report about how much time is wasted on social networking sites, and particularly by those who are purportedly at work.

It’s a difficult truth that, even while we evangelize about their transformative effect on businesses, such sites can easily be time-sinks even for the most diligent workers. Even the best of us cannot deny the temptation to take a quick peek at our Twitter stream, only to emerge twenty minutes later having been sucked into a debate about who would win a fight, Superman or Spiderman… or some equally unimportant subject.

The problem is that we can’t expect our employees to be using social networking sites effectively unless they are enthusiastic tweeters, Facebookers or bloggers themselves. As we’ve said a thousand times before, you really can’t understand these sites or what they do, until you have become fully immersed yourself. Undeniably, though, by their very nature, social media sites do suck people in and it’s a strong person indeed who can resist their lure.

What is the answer? Well, one solution is to do the tweeting and blogging yourself. Most people who own businesses are so wrapped up in them that their personal lives can barely be distinguished from their working ones. In no time, you’ll have gathered around you a social circle of people in the same field, and, as is the nature of this arena, you may find that such alliances are incredibly useful, in ways you could never have foreseen.

If that doesn’t appeal, you may find that the nature of your business allows you to give the job of social media marketing to someone who is mainly stuck behind a counter, with long periods of idleness: think garage attendant on a night-shift, art gallery attendant during the quiet hours, or cinema usher after the lights have dimmed.

What if your business simply doesn’t include such job descriptions? Well, you may just have to consider that 40 minutes of wasted time each week to be part of the cost of employing someone who is truly a social media specialist.

See also our recent post on differing approaches to social media in local councils.