Like so many other online entrepreneurs and Internet marketers, I enjoy social media and spend many hours tweeting, updating, liking, commenting in groups and trading on Empire Avenue. I find the whole Social Media thing so fascinating that it has almost completely stopped me watching TV.
Much of the time spent on Social Media is business related, expanding my network of contacts, attracting new followers and visitors to this and my other blog and my Facebook page so that at some time in the future they might become customers and buy some of the things I promote. Learning from others is another huge benefit.
With friends and family spread all over the world, I also use Social Media and services like Skype to keep in contact with many people with whom I have no business connection at all. This use of Social Media I consider personal, not part of my business activity.
But is it so easy to make a distinction between business and personal use?
What happens when a friend of a personal friend or follower of a non-business follower finds something interesting enough in one of my personal updates to follow or friend me directly and then become a business contact?
My concern is that because effective use of Social Media is such an important part of marketing strategy for entrepreneurs, we risk it taking up more of our time than it should. If it is replacing time previously spent watching TV that is probably a good thing, but I know that at times I am guilty of putting off more difficult creative and “thinking” things I should be doing by spending longer on Social Media.
Here are a few reasons why I think this happens:
- Social Media Activity is infinite
- It is fun
- It is interesting
- It is educational
- It blurs the boundaries between business and social activity
- It is stimulating
- It is easy to justify the time spent on it
What I mean by it being infinite is that there is never a clear cut off when engaging on twitter, Facebook or any of the other sites. Unlike a blog post, which when it is done, edited, spell checked perhaps modified, then published, it’s done. Accounting work the same, even with copy writing for ads or webpages, there is a limit to how long we can go on fiddling with, or improving on one piece of our work.
Twitter, and more so Facebook, are quite different, particularly when involved in an interesting thread of comments in a group, and more so when living on the East coast in North America and trying to keep up with those in the West who are always three hours fresher than us. Or on the other side of the world in Asia or Australia who are just starting their new day when we are winding down.
That temptation to leave one more comment or check out one more page becomes as powerful as that of a candle flame to a moth.
I suspect that this problem is more acute for sole entrepreneurs working from home than people in a more formally structured business environment.
Why? It’s easier to leave “work” at work when you go away from home to an outside office every day. While some people may use the same lap top at home and the office, many others use different computers at each location or rely on tablets and smart phones at home.
When your office is just a few feet from your living room and you do everything on one computer, it is more difficult to disconnect.
So how do I control the amount of time I spend on Social Media?
- Having a daily list of income generating priorities
- Allocating set times for Social Media
- Using a timer
All those work well for me for most of the day, where I fall down is in the evening, after I have accomplished all, or most of the higher priority tasks for the day.
Then I frequently find it too tempting to turn off the timer and spend a few hours engaging in the ebb and flow of comments, updates and tweets, spend some more time polishing up my portfolio on Empire Avenue or looking for more interesting people to connect with.
One of the huge benefits for me, is that it gives me, as an older participant living out in the country, a way of connecting with and learning from brilliant minds from a broad spectrum of disciplines, professions, nationalities and generations.
As a political conservative, it has given me a greater understanding – but not necessarily agreement with, more liberal views. As a global warming cynic it has shown me some of the concerns of the more environmentally aware among us. I might still be in complete disagreement with some of the opinions I come across, but it does open up some great debates.
Where else can we find this many contacts and at virtually no cost except our time, than on Social Media.
Like with most things in life, the key lies in moderation and balance and we need to find the level of engagement that works best for us without negatively affecting our businesses.
I would love to hear your thoughts, do you find Social Media involvement taking away time from business or family? How do you control it?
Wishing you success in all your endeavours.