Social Media as Time Suck: Godin and Pastis Nail It

Pearls Before Swine

For about a year — from mid-2008 through about mid-2009 — I made a concerted effort to use social media to boost my online presence. I tended to my profile on LinkedIn, and participated in its “Answers” forum. I added a Facebook Fan Page. Put up a profile on Biznik. Tweeted regularly. And, of course, blogged several times a week.

My hope was that with a more robust online presence, potential clients would find me, learn about me, enter into a dialog with me, and spend money with me.

What I didn’t count on was all the easy time-wasting that went along with it — checking my blog stats, following links on Twitter, answering tweets. It was fun, but it was also a great way to feel like I was working when I was doing anything but.

Also, as near as I could tell, I didn’t make a dime on any of it.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve encountered a couple of interesting takes on the phenomenon. Stephan Pastis’ “Pearls Before Swine” (above) and the passage below from Seth Godin‘s new book, Linchpin.

If you sat at work watching Hawaii 5-o reruns, you’d probably lose your job. But it’s apparently fine to tweak and update your Facebook status account for an hour. That’s “connecting to your social graph.”

Don’t even get me started on Twitter. There are certainly people who are using it effectively and productively. Some people (a few) are finding that it helps them do the work. But the rest? It’s perfect resistance, because it’s never done. There’s always another tweet to be read and responded to. Which, of course, keeps you from doing the work.

At the beginning of the year, I dropped just about all of it.

I’m now slowly dipping my toe back in the water, for one simple reason:  on some gut level, I believe Bill Gates would write me a large check if only he knew who Phil Bernstein was, and I need to give him an opportunity to find me.

I’m still going to ignore Twitter (this blog goes there automatically), but the blog is now back two or three times a week, I’ll answer the occasional question on LinkedIn, post an occasional link on my Facebook Fan Page, and declare victory.

What say you? Is social media really generating a measurable return for you? Or is it just a giant time suck?

Post your comments below.


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