Working hard or hardly working?

Managers may find themselves asking that question after examining the results of a study that found massive increases in employees’ use of social media on corporate networks in the past year.

The research, conducted by security company Palo Alto Networks, found that Twitter usage in 2011 was up 700 percent from the previous year, based on the percentage of total networking bandwidth consumed.

Despite Twitter’s major bounce, Facebook remained the top social application at the office, accounting for 39 percent of employees’ usage of social media bandwidth.

Given that many corporations now rely on social media as part of their public relations strategies, it’s unclear how much of this activity is work-related and how much of it is personal. But it does add to the growing body of evidence that these applications are becoming increasingly entrenched in our daily lives.

Perhaps the most interesting tidbit in this report is the detection of a shift away from “passive social networking,” which includes reading updates and checking out photos, to “active social networking,” which includes playing games and commenting. In 2009, the passive style accounted for 75 percent of social media consumption, the report says. Today, that has slipped to 39 percent, while active social networking has steadily gained ground.

Do you use social media while you’re at the office? If so, are you using it to promote your company or to look at your cousin Susie’s engagement photos? Tell us in the comments section.

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