Social Media as a Distraction

    January 4, 2008

Social media is a waste of time.  There, I said it.  Yesterday, I read a long blog post by a guy I’ve never actually met.  Then I read all the comments.  Then I left a comment, offering advice he asked for.

It made me no money.  It gave me no leads.  It helped me cross nothing off my to do list. I fell a few minutes “further behind.”

I sometimes spend 30-40 seconds glancing at new Tweets that add absolutely no value to my day. I played a Facebook brain teaser game to learn that Gene’s brain is bigger than mine (damn).

Social media is a distraction.  Social media is a time waster.   Social media is unproductive. 

There, I said it.  And I’ll admit it can all be true.  Now, let’s ponder this for a moment.  In Part I, let’s think about why that doesn’t matter even if it’s true.  In Part II, let’s think about why that is only partly true.

The nattering naysayers want to talk about being productive in marketing and they are right to do so.  Let’s compare social media marketing, which is what Ignite does as a social media agency, to other forms of marketing for a second.

  • Watching television is (more often than not) a waste of time.
  • Reading (most) websites is a waste of time.
  • Listening to the radio is a waste of time.
  • Reading magazines is (more often than not) a waste of time.
  • Almost everything in your mail pile is a waste of time.
  • Talking to your friends is a waste of time.

Only rarely do any of the above lead to new business growth, lead to income for you or lead to crossing something off your to do list.  But marketers still try to reach us when we do all of these things:

  • TV advertising
  • Web advertising
  • Radio advertising
  • Magazine ads
  • Direct mail
  • Logo shirts, WOMMA, influencer marketing, etc. etc.

Let’s accept your (spurious) assumption that social media is nothing more than a waste of time.  Even if that were 100% true, as a marketer don’t you want to engage people when they are wasting time?  Particularly if it’s LOTS of them wasting it. Social Networking Use in the United States
We’ve got 72 million active social network users in the U.S. right now, and that’s growing about 40% this year.  (And that’s just the social network stuff.)

As a marketer, you should want to figure out the best way to reach these people.  (FYI, if someone is being REALLY productive, you CANNOT reach them through most marketing anyway.)

The best way to reach people engaging in social media is by engaging back, on their terms.  You can call it amateur to amateur if it makes you feel superior, but I prefer to call it person-to-person.  And if you can figure out how to do social media marketing (or let us figure it out for you), there’s nothing more powerful.

And that post that I talked about at the top?  Reading that and leaving my comment gave me pretty much the same feeling as talking in person to a friend or co-worker about a problem for a few minutes.  And that’s part of the good stuff in life.

Now, sorry if you wasted your time reading this.  :-)  But now that it’s gone, invest 90 seconds more in the comment field, and tell me your reaction.