Social Media: A Waste of Your Time?

Social Media

by Kenny Hyder

ClockWho was the first per­son you spoke to IRL (in real life) this mor­ning? What did you talk about? Now, can you remem­ber the first thing you read when you log­ged into Facebook?

If you’re like me, you have spent WAY too much time on count­less social media sites over the past 2–3 years, obses­sing over what your pro­file loo­ked like, what your “friends” were up to, stal­king pic­tu­res, and rea­ding the never ending fire-hose of infor­ma­tion from social news sites.

Good & Bad Investments

Any finan­cial con­sul­tant will tell you that as you con­ti­nue to add capi­tal to an invest­ment, the poten­tial payoff inc­rea­ses expo­nen­tially over a period of time. As you con­ti­nue to add to your invest­ments, they begin to work har­der for you. Also, any invest­ment that doesn’t have a pro­ba­bi­lity of a higher return than the capi­tal inves­ted would be con­si­de­red a bad investment.

It is up to you how you spend your time. What baf­fles me are the crowds of peo­ple who com­plain about “not having enough time” but con­ti­nue to make poor deci­sions with where they invest their time. Over the past few years I have done my share of time was­ting online. As a night owl, I have log­ged more hours than most on You­Tube, Wiki­pe­dia, Red­dit, and nume­rous others. But choo­sing to waste time, and was­ting time because of igno­rance are com­ple­tely different.

Social Media: The Time Suck

I am a fan of most popu­lar social media sites, and fre­quent them often. Some of them have hel­ped make me and my clients tens of thou­sands of dollars if not more. They are often enter­tai­ning and can some­ti­mes be use­ful. But aim­less acti­vity in social media is the death of your time investments.

Ever­yone that works online should unders­tand their goals with each social media site they invest time into. If you are spen­ding time on any social site with no defi­ned pur­pose, you are not going to get any real value out of your time inves­ted in that site. Unders­tan­ding begets focus begets success.

Good Invest­ments in Social Media

One saying that my dad used to say is: “The Jack of all tra­des is the mas­ter of none.” Like most things, this holds true for social media as well. You simply can’t domi­nate Face­book, MyS­pace, Twit­ter, Digg, Red­dit, Deli­cious, Lin­ke­dIn, You­Tube, and Flickr all by your­self. For your sanity and suc­cess you have to choose your spots.

What is the expec­ted value for each social site you invest time into? If your goals are to build rela­tionships and con­nect with peo­ple, the expec­ted value in Red­dit is likely 0. Unders­tan­ding why you’re get­ting invol­ved will not only help you set your goals, but also help you set your focus priority.

Trim the Fat

Once you have a clear unders­tan­ding of your goals for social media and the sites you are going to use to help you reach them, it’s time to adjust your work­flow. Remem­ber, was­ting time on pur­pose is a hobby, was­ting time because of igno­rance is inexcusable.

Some social media mar­ke­ters sug­gest that a work­flow for social media can take as little as 60 minu­tes per day. Set­ting up and refi­ning a pro­cess will help keep you on track and stop you from won­de­ring off into the far cor­ners of the inter­net. Remem­ber, this is work, you can play later.

Reap the Rewards

Refine your time spent on social media sites to focu­sed atten­tion and I’m bet­ting you get hours back out of each day. In addi­tion, the time you do spend will actually pro­duce results, rather than remai­ning stag­nant and unremarkable.

Con­ti­nue to add and invest time into these refi­ned pro­ces­ses and stra­te­gies, and even­tually your momen­tum will begin to work for you. Like a good finan­cial invest­ment, time well spent in social media will even­tually begin to snow­ball, and time you spend will have more and more affect in the end. Rather than having your efforts dis­per­sed because your efforts were spread too thin, and your focus unrea­li­zed, more time spent will begin to mean big­ger payoffs.

With an unders­tan­ding of your goals, some focus, and a plan, anyone can plan and start an effec­tive social media campaign.

Photo Cre­dit: steve.grosbois


Matt Siltala April 27, 2010 at 6:32 am

Some of the best advice I have ever heard were along these lines – don’t try to master all the social networks, pick your top 3 (or so) and become a master of those. The point is you don’t need to feel like you have to be a part of every conversation going on, because if you do – you are going to fall into this trap of good and bad investments (as stated above) I enjoy the relationships I have made online, but I feel I have invested my time wisely – and that is your point – Good advice here Kenny! Thanks,

Kenny April 27, 2010 at 6:40 am

I just wish I had learned this lesson sooner..

Norcross April 27, 2010 at 9:25 am

Hell yeah. I just deleted my FB profile because it no longer served a purpose. Not sure it ever did, to be honest. I just felt like I should have been there. So I was. It came down to the fact that I used it for event planning and Scrabble, both of which are easily replaceable.

Kenny April 27, 2010 at 9:40 am

HAH! If it weren’t for the fact that there are people on facebook that I can’t get ahold of anywhere else, I’d probably do the same!

Tim Staines April 27, 2010 at 6:29 pm

I’m pretty sure our sentiments are mutual on Facebook. As for the rest, I stay away from claiming ‘expertise’ on any of them, although I know way more than most. I focus my mastery on SEO, and I use social sites to glean information about that topic. Along the way I pick up bits and pieces about each of them and end up knowledgeable of their workings by shear osmosis.

By the way, I think you should keep the comments open . . . just my humble opinion.

Kenny April 27, 2010 at 6:39 pm

Agreed. SEO is my primary profession as well, though I do make money in social media as well.

I was just testing some stuff in prior weeks with closing comments. Thanks for the input! :)

Nate Schubert April 27, 2010 at 8:08 pm

I spend about 5-10 minutes per day on Facebook. I go to my Fortune Cookies fan page in the morning and post a fortune from one of the several dozen cookies in my drawer. We eat a lot of chinese food at work. This is all I do and I’m approaching 11,000 fans (likers?). I’m steadily building an audience to listen when I have something meaningful to offer them aside from a poorly written but legitimate fortune. Oh, and lucky numbers.

I spend approximately 0 minutes per day on Facebook for the company I’m with, but follow filtered searches on Twitter throughout the day to engage enthusiasts and potential customers. For my company, Twitter is infinitely more powerful than Facebook.

Kenny May 2, 2010 at 9:43 pm

I like the fortune idea, very creative.

Twitter & Facebook can both be very effective tools, just different strokes..

Jeremy Martin April 30, 2010 at 11:48 am

Kenny thanks for this. Being an A.D.D. marketer, thought I have never been officially diagnosed, sticking to just a couple social networks is about all I can handle. I get easily distracted by the new shiny ones but stick to the old ones that I have gained the most from. In fact, I spend most of my time on Twitter following only the people that have the most impact on my knowledge.

Kenny May 2, 2010 at 9:44 pm

It’s really all anyone can handle, if they tell you different, they’re lying to themselves. Or they’re a robot.

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