Is your boss concerned with the amount of time you spend on social media sites while you're on the job? Chances are that you should be concerned about your drop in personal productivity due to social media in your off-work hours too.
Take for example John Q... John runs a business in his spare time in which he sells web design services. John is quite active during the daytime on his day job, but he also tweets to his followers from his cell phone regularly. John has one big problem though, he only has 40 followers on twitter. Generating new followers on twitter is a job in itself if no one knows you yet. You are required to spend time putting links on all of your profiles all over the web; John has to keep up with making several posts on his twitter account to show how his business is active, linking people and carefully selecting people to follow to position himself for that critical point when he generates er... 200 followers. Meanwhile, people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Carrot Top rest among the elite with hundreds of thousands of followers that he'll probably never achieve unless John commits a serious crime that makes evening television news.
After months and years, John finds himself doing less work on his own company web site, and more and more work managing his 2 social media accounts. John, in the process of trying to build a solid online reputation for himself has been diverting hits and attention away from the web site he spent many months [and probably lots of money] working on for his business! All of the time that John spends daily on Social Media sites has little to no direct benefit for his business unless John manages to increase his followers on Social Media sites. As sites reduce their promotion of user profiles in a shift to gain ad revenue, John will become a needle in a haystack. This is why its important to put most of your work into your own (company.com) website rather than into Social Media sites, regardless of the the communal benefits they promise.
John is at the mercy of each social media site an their rules and policy on design, rules, and how to generate followers, and most of these sites do nothing to help John increase his following, that's all work John has to do. You are given a new set of tasks, which largely benefit the popularity of the social media site rather than your own business. This is why Facebook doesn't have to run TV commercials, because people automatically promote Facebook and Twitter in the process of trying to build an online profile for themselves. If you don't manage to successfully recruit "followers" (the people who would have normally just gone to your web site to read about your company) you are left out of the modern world of Social Media promotion, and you're a dinosaur. Its a new means of forced compliance that edges out smaller businesses (though its not quite deliberate).
Worse yet, if either Twitter or Facebook decide that next year they're going to become a pay-only service or if the sites/companies run out of money and need to be shut down, you'll have no means to keep the "tweets" you've created and because of their format restrictions, you probably can't really use the tweets you have made over the years anywhere else.
Meanwhile, creators of social media sites make money off of the promise of ad revenue, and consumer statistics generated by observing the habits of millions of people while they float around (most unaware) online. You know this is not an editorial about privacy or individual rights, I think that's been hashed enough at the moment...
In the process of generating followers, friends, listeners, whatever you call it, social media sites gain much more than you do, and they give you back so little. And the amount of benefit that Social Media Sites provide to people seeking to promote business and art is decreasing rapidly. Decreasing your online presence occurs on Social Media Sites through your efforts when you register. Yous start "behind the curve" of the friend(s) that invited, welcomed you to, or (informed you about) the social media service. Immediately you're met with a challenge to get "caught up" with your friends in terms of social appearance, by adding friends you all have in common. It doesn't end there, the friend(s) that invited, welcomed you to, or (informed you about) the social media service see your growth, assuming you don't get frustrated and give up early, and some feel an incentive to outpace you, so they invest time working on making new friends. You have now succeeded investing a lot of time in something that is not making you money, while your business sits dormant awaiting your log off, and the twitter bird is the real winner, because you all drove their hit stats up big time!
This is where Social Media fails us. No matter how hard you work to promote yourself and your business on a social network, the end result is often that you gain very little ground with new clients, leads, and hits for your own web site, and you end up promoting the Social Media site largely through your own efforts while your business is unattended to.
Many of us don't have tons of money to hire staff that raves about us on social media sites all day. Some PR firms are dedicated to adding positive comments and views via "shadow user accounts" on YouTube to boost the popularity of videos for example. Why would Bill Gates want to start a Twitter account and wait around for followers? "Heck no! hire twitter PR! They will give you 1 million followers off the bat along with several automated twits to make it look like you're a pro!". Twitter posted a link for Bill Gates on twitter with an "add" button on their front page... That's how I found him on there, he had the advantage of being promoted to every twitter user worldwide, even though he is already quite famous, so of course he outpaces me in the follower ranks. Me? I promote my twitter account, er Twitter's site on my own web page, garnering around 500 hits a month... I have big business hopes even though I've got third world status on twitter. You just wait and see! #SMH
Why do some people look so "followed" on twitter while most are barely followed? Because the cards are stacked that way. Are you wasting your time promoting your twitter account, i mean twitter.com? Probably. Should we pay for the appearance of being successful on Social Media Sites? That is another way the game has dramatically changed, its not quite the same as buying a suit, its the act of "manipulating public perception". Just make sure your business sees the benefit of doing so.
I believe my best time is spent in building a web presence for myself that is all my own, without targeted ads and links that distract viewers from our identity and message.This should be a driving force in how we all spend time promoting our business and art. In the future, lets work hard to build Social Media sites that are helpful to people as a core feature, rather than creating just another site set on monopolizing the Social Media landscape in hopes of "warehousing" and tracking users. Giving your subscribers freedom and identity is one of the things myspace was great at, their downfall, of course, became uncontrollable spam, but the first years were truly great. Facebook still doesn't understand why Myspace lost its dominance, and they, as well as other Social Media sites, will eat themselves unless they pay attention to the demands of people that use them. Let's learn from failed Social Networking sites that have fallen in the past and lets bring the idea of Social Media back to being truly helpful and less time consuming.
The questions I would like to pose are: How are these sites helping you? And are they worth the time you spend on them? How many people generate fame, valuable contacts, and solid readership on twitter from scratch?
P.S. You Can Follow Me On Twitter Here: http://www.twitter.com/ruffandtuff
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