Based on URLs its customers are accessing, Zscaler examined the Web content categories most commonly used by enterprise employees. Social networking accounted for 5.23% of activity, compared with 9.16% for Web search, 11.3% for Internet services, 12.8% for corporate marketing, and 13.13% for professional services. The biggest category was "other," at 21.79%.
When it comes to the Web app transactions logged in the first quarter by Zscaler customers, Facebook was far and away the leader, at 41.07%. Following far behind were Gmail (18.26%), YouTube (8.29%), and Twitter (7.24%).
However, Zscaler found that while Facebook was the top Web app from its customer database, Facebook usage has been declining month to month. For example, during the first quarter of the year, Facebook made up 41.72% of traffic in January and 40.54% in March. "This matches up with the Facebook data points we have from last year, in which we are seeing a decline with a slope of about negative 2.8% per quarter," the report stated. Conversely, Zscaler has seen an uptick in Twitter traffic over time.
Zscaler posits that the drops in social networking traffic it has seen (including a drop in LinkedIn traffic) can be attributed to an increase in the application of social networking policy by enterprises. Indeed, said the report, there are indications that companies are placing more controls on what it being accessed over the Web by employees: Zscaler noted that it has seen policy blocks against users attempting to access social networking sites increase from 2.46% in January to 3.99% in March; policy blocks on users attempting to post/write content to social networking sites increase from 0.01% in January to 0.18% in March; and streaming media blocks increase from 0.38% to 0.46%.
[ Could your social media use come back to haunt you? See Facebook Privacy: 5 Most Ignored Mistakes. ]
As the use of social networking becomes more tightly ingrained in enterprise activities, numbers like the ones Zscaler presents in its Q1 2012 report will be more challenging to parse. For example, in its Web content category, Zscaler breaks out social networking from corporate marketing. However, the two are often one and the same for companies these days. Further, we will likely see companies continuing to experiment with different social media platforms to see what "sticks," which will no doubt cause Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites' traffic to rise and fall accordingly over time. And what about rising social stars such as Pinterest? We may see traffic to sites such as Facebook and Twitter drop as organizations and their customers spread their social time over more and more sites.
The increasing use of social media policy at organizations--including stricter governance around who can and can't post for the company and what can and can't be posted--will also continue to affect traffic stats moving forward.
What percentage of Web traffic does social media represent at your company? Is the traffic all business, or is social not yet on the radar as a business app for your company? Please share your insight in the comments section below.
Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter @debdonston.
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