Social media moves so fast, it's hard to keep up. Here are the week's top stories in scan-friendly format:

  • Social Media Sites Being Banned At Work
  • When It Comes to Brands and Products, Twitter Users Seek Information
  • Facebook as a Valuable Traffic Source
  • Twitter Working To Make Search Engines Better

Social Media Sites Being Banned At Work

According to a study from Robert Half Technology, a little more than half of U.S. workplaces are banning their employees from viewing and interacting with social networking sites. Social sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and MySpace are often seen as time-wasters. Hence, access is being shut down in the American workforce.

Even though a reported 54% of companies are banning these types of websites, some companies are allowing social networks to be used when there is a business case for it. Of those asked by the survey, only 10% of CIOs interviewed reported that their companies allow unfiltered access to social networking during work hours.

Most companies are afraid that social networking sites will distract workers who have deadlines and priorities at work.

However, it seems some CIOs appreciate that social networks allow for the exchange of ideas and useful knowledge in some professions. In the end, the use of social networking comes down to personal priority setting. Social networking sites are just one distraction in the workplace alongside cell phones, personal e-mail, YouTube and many others.

Do you use social networking as a part of your work day for business purposes?  What standards and ways do you utilize to ensure you don't get in trouble with the boss?

When It Comes to Brands and Products, Twitter Users Seek Information

If you manage a brand or company, Twitter can be a scary thought in your mind. This widely available communication channel is daunting because a company or marketing firm has no way to control or steer the conversation on Twitter, as some other communication methods have allowed. As it turns out, brand managers may not have anything to worry about with regards to the "Twitter effect," as new figures show product sentiment is generally positive on the social message site.

The study analyzed 150,000 tweets and found that about 11% of brand-related tweets were those providing comment or information, whereas 18% of the tweets were from people seeking information. Looking at the comments where tweets sought information, about half of these were passive comments not about a specific brand.  Rather, these tweets were general statements.

Good news for brands, according to this study: when an opinion about a company or brand is expressed on Twitter, they are more likely positive opinions.

For brands, the nice thing about Twitter is that the medium is very discoverable.  This means if a negative opinion ins expressed about your company or brand, Twitter makes it easy to seek the person out and address a problem. Then, when the company does right a wrong, the disgruntled users is highly likely to make it known. The dialogue is two-way, meaning brand managers have an opportunity to excel in this new way of handling public relations.

Facebook as a Valuable Traffic Source

There are many ways to get the word out in the online world.  We have sites to choose from: Twitter, Google Ads, Facebook, Digg and many others. However, what site is the most valuable for building loyalty to your web site or web service? According to usage habits of web users, Facebook provides the most loyalty. That is, if your site is visited by a Facebook user, that visitor is more likely to return to your site again and again.

Looking at the numbers, 20% of Facebook users are likely to re-visit a site after viewing a link. Digg, another social link-sharing site, produces loyal visitors 16% of the time, and Twitter users are likely to come back around 11% of the time.

Even though short-term traffic is key when launching a new product or service, long-term loyalty numbers are the ones that web site managers should be pushing for. If this is the case, the data shows that inviting your users to share links on Facebook will be most beneficial medium to build longterm website loyalty.

Twitter Working To Make Search Engines Better

Real-time web services like Twitter create a problem for search engines because the information generated by these services is fast and constantly updated. How are Google and Microsoft supposed to keep up with the millions of messages and associated content spewing out of Twitter? This is a real problem for search engine algorithms.

The press today is abuzz with a reported deal that pins Twitter together with Microsoft's Bing and Google. These separate deals will give the search engines access to conduct data-mining on Twitters real-time micromessaging platform. Twitter data is valuable web content to Bing and Google search engines because links swapped on Twitter are trusted content that has been socially filtered.

Also, a way to search Twitter from traditional search engines would be welcome as Twitter's search is rudimentary and only goes back a few days, making data discovery difficult (if not impossible). 

We all know that Twitter needs to figure out a way to monetize their operations and these types of deals seem like a good way for Twitter to generate revenue off their large user base and huge amounts of content.