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

  • Gartner Says Social Will Rule The Enterprise
  • Twitter Use Growing Fast in the U.K.
  • Watch Out For Social Networking Spam and Malware
  • Facebook: Our Users Are Aware of Privacy Settings

Gartner Says Social Will Rule The Enterprise

Gartner, the respected enterprise research and analytics firm, recently offered five social software predictions for this year and the years coming. In essence, the firm projects that social networking will spread into the enterprise and will slowly augment traditional communication channels that already exist inside enterprises.

The first prediction postulates that social networking services will replace e-mail as a primary communication platform for 20 percent of business users. This seems like a very practical prediction, as tools such as SharePoint and Jive's Social Business Software continue to make inroads into organizations, e-mail might get replaced with other services that allow team members to communicate in richer and more trackable ways.

Gartner also says that half of all enterprises will use activity streams (like microblogging) as a part of the day-to-day operations. These micro-blogging platforms are taking root in services such as Jive's social software, Zoho office suite and other 'business-class' tools. Further, activity streams provide a record of activity and developments surrounding documents, meetings and project tasks.

Do you see more social networking activity happening in your work environment for business purposes? How is social networking being used and what tips would you share?

Twitter Use Growing Fast in the U.K.

According to the Wall Street Journal, businesses and executives are utilizing Twitter as a conversation tool in increasing numbers. This is especially true in the U.K., where traffic in October 2009 surged to 3.3 million unique visitors per month. For comparison, only 121,000 users visited Twitter from Britain in October 2008. Also, 4 out of 5 of the top 30 major brands use Twitter on a daily basis, says Forrester Research.

British enterprises are finding Twitter to be a very cost-effective way to get the word out to customers in a new way. In fact, the most successful brands on Twitter are realizing the value in delivering constant Tweets that offer value to customers.

Via micro-blogging, brands such as Honda and British retailer Topshop are now able to offer specials and other incentives to keep customers engaged.

Business managers and executives are also enjoying the freedom to offer quick insights and link sharing on Twitter, an activity they can't do through the typical press release practice. With the proper themes and through offering authentic communication, brands are finding Twitter to be a great way to interact and share information with customers on an ongoing basis.

Watch Out For Social Networking Spam and Malware

A recent polling of some 500 companies revealed a dramatic rise in the occurrence of spam and malware resulting from visiting social networking sites. Facebook was at the top of the list for perceived risk amongst social networking sites. Other sites such as LinkedIn, MySpace and Twitter were also on the list of sites to watch out for, amongst company security professionals.

Learning Opportunities

It is well known that phishing and malware are prevalent on social networking sites. Because sites such as Facebook are occupied by your friends, visitors to these sites often click links and share malware because social networks are a more 'trusted' environment. Some enterprises have gone as far as banning social networking sites altogether because of malware.

Sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn have implemented teams who are tasked with rooting out and eliminating malware and other threats on the network. One perceived threat lies in the ability to root out information about a business (such as organizational chart and other personal info) and post it publicly on the Internet, based on the type of malware present.

If you are an IT professional looking at this type of issue in an organization, it would be best to consider policy and practice as social network use continues to climb inside companies and enterprises.

Facebook: Are Users Are Aware of Privacy Settings?

According to a recent article on ReadWriteWeb, a Facebook official reported that more than a third of Facebook users made alterations to their privacy settings. This development came after the recent privacy changes at Facebook that essentially made status updates, images and other user generated content 'public' by default.

However, as author Sarah Perez points out, the real number that should be discussed is the 65% of folks who accepted the default and could be unknowingly sharing their status updates with anyone who wishes to see them, not their trusted friends and family.

The privacy debate has been covered well at CMSWire and in previous editions of the Social Media Minute. It would be very interesting to see a study whereby users who chose the default settings (and thereby opening up all their Facebook messages to the public) were polled and asked if they truly understood the nature of the default choices Facebook presented to them a few weeks ago with the "transition tool". In addition to the criticism in the technical press, according to the ReadWriteWeb article, the FTC has received complaints about the matter.

Did you alter your Facebook privacy settings during the recent changes at Facebook? What are your thoughts on the matter? Please weigh in by leaving a comment below.