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Social Media and that Precious Commodity - Time!

If there is one thing designed to “tick me off”, it is people wasting my time.  Time is one of the most precious commodities I have and I like to decide exactly how to use that time.   I have written on many different occasions about “personal productivity” or “time management” and am a big believer in getting the best return on my time … so I don’t appreciate people who waste it. 

One of my more recent blogs was entitled “Are You Someone Who Gets Things Done?” with a focus on time management and attitude!  Worth a read if time management is of interest!

Which brings me to the whole subject of social media and its impact, both positive and negative, on our personal productivity.

On a regular basis I blog, I use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.  I also use Tweetdeck.

So … what is the issue?

All of these tools are (a) somewhat addictive; and (b) have the potential to be HUGE “time-suckers“!

Social media is NOT mandatory for most people to be successful in their job.   It CAN be a great tool … but ONLY if it is used in a controlled, strategic way and not because (a) everyone else is doing it; or (b) some expert tells you its what you should be doing!

One example … based on real life experience. 

LinkedIn is hailed as one of the new saviours of the recruiting world!  OK (maybe) … recruiters start to post their jobs and get a couple of “wins” and all of a sudden it is “the answer”.  They forget that 95% of the “closes” came from their company database, from referrals, from people coming through their own website … no, what sticks in their mind is the “great candidate” they found on LinkedIn.  Suddenly the amount of time they spend on this third party tool is totally out of line with their return on investment.  The internal company resume database suffers, the recruiter’s results suffer but the percentage of LinkedIn wins goes up.  Instead of recognizing that the problem is the reduced effort maintaining the current database and relationships built over many years, instead the recruiter THINKS that LinkedIn is “the answer”.

Don’t get me wrong, LinkedIn is a good recruiting tool … but if you are in the staffing business then success comes from your own contacts, the database you have built over many years and the referrals you get through them.   LinkedIn supplements that … in the same way that job boards do!  The addictive nature of LinkedIn means that it is easy to spend all day reading group postings, responding to queries and adding new potential contacts.  Is that REALLY going to help you be more successful?

Example #2 … again from real life.

Facebook.  A wonderful tool that I use largely for keeping in touch with family and friends spread across the globe.   Facebook IS used corporately, and in my mind brings most value as a branding tool, or a means to drive traffic (using good content) to your own website.  However … many, many people are on Facebook throughout the business day with “the best intention” of taking a few minutes to stay on top of “things”.  The reality is that its addictive nature means they get sucked into conversations, check out photo albums, following links and even play games.  Before you know it that “few minutes a day” becomes 15 minutes in every hour … or 25% of your working day!!!

I could go on … Twitter’s ability to deliver “almost real time” news can suck time like nobody’s business, never mind the ability to “follow” the comments of celebrities, sports stars and politicians!

Social media is still in its infancy, but growing up fast.  It has the ability to be a GREAT tool, but ALSO the ability to adversely affect productivity.

The ANSWER as always lies in HOW you use it.  Here are a few thoughts …

1.  Read as much as you can to learn about the various tools … how others are using them, and then “dip your toe in”.  Start slow!

2.  Develop a strategy that suits your goals … keeping in mind that any time spent on this activity comes at a cost to something else!

3.  Decide what you want from social media.  If keeping in touch with friends through Facebook is all, then make sure the time spent during the workday is TRULY minimal!

4.  Allot a certain amount of time to each activity … and measure it!  Make sure that the return on that investment pays off!  If you are a recruiter, are your closes increasing?  If not, then maybe your strategy isn’t worth the effort!

5.  Don’t be an island!   If your company has a strategy get on board with it … if they don’t, then consider getting involved with its development.

As a business owner I evaluate how I spend my time, and decide whether I could have made better use of that time.  Every employee has the ability to maximize their productivity by being very focused on activities that bring direct value to the job … the big question is, will social media bring value?  Only you can answer that … but beware the amount of time you spend doing this, it is easy to burn hours on social media sites!