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Moderation is key. A recent survey by GSN Digital touched on the matter and found that 80% of respondents who said they visit online gaming sites throughout the day “feel more focused on work as a result of periodic mental breaks associated with game play” – and 59% of them said they visit such sites for less than 30 minutes per day. Businesses haven’t had to tackle this issue until the last few years, so there aren’t any historical precedents for guiding employees about social media etiquette. Many companies either don’t have a policy about how workers should handle their online interactions while they’re at the office or, if they do have one, it’s so dense and convoluted that it’s impossible to plow through. Companies like Coca-Cola, Kodak, IBM, and Intel that offer a relaxed, common-sense approach appear to be more successful in crafting policies that result in better etiquette and fewer mishaps. When the emphasis is on what’s allowed rather than what’s forbidden, social media mischief decreases dramatically. The best strategy is for corporate culture to embrace social media and encourage responsible employee use.

According to the Pew Internet Project, social media users come from all age groups — the average age of adult social network users has risen from 33 in 2008 to 38 in 2010, and over half of all adult users are now over the age of 35.

Some organizations definitely don’t think so. A recent report from Clearswift, an IT security firm, found that 19% of companies are blocking employee access to social media sites at work, up 10% from last year. What’s a company to do about employees who visit Facebook, Twitter, and other sites with their company-issued laptop? Social media’s exponential growth has created unique challenges for employers and employees. Some key points to keep in mind: