Tipsheet: Avoiding the Social Media Sinkholes

There are over 300 web sites that have a Social Media angle to them. Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter might be the most familiar, but you many also spend time on FlickR, eBay, Plaxo, Orkut, and others. In fact, you may be spending so much time on these “Networks”, that you have little time for anything else. The central question is
how much time is too much time“? Consider:

1) What is your goal for Social Networking? Is it to grow your business connections, catch up with family, or talk about a hobby? It is to collaborate with other professionals in your industry, or to gauge the level of “buzz” for your products? Or is it simply recreation? Most people just fall into the activity of exploring the Social Media world, and don’t stop to think about why they are doing it. Once you define your Social Networking objectives, you can then determine how, and where, they can be met. And how much time it should take.

2) Is there an element of addiction? Most people would never think of themselves as addicted to the Internet or Social Media, but answer two questions: (1) Is it hard to pull yourself away from the activity? and (2) Is Social Media and the Internet pulling you away from real-life activities and relationships? If either is the case, consider limiting your access to specific times, and scheduling “real-world” activities with others. Setting firm objectives also helps. If you want to test yourself, try going cold-turkey for a week: skip the social media sites for a full seven days, and see what happens.

3) Is distraction a problem? There are far too many Social Media distractions that prevent us from efficiently achieving our goals. Beyond the comments on pictures, “must-see” links from friends on Twitter and LinkedIn, there are fascinating updates from those we care about. If you know what you need from a site, be single-minded about it: get in, get what you need, and get out. Ignore all of the eye-candy.

4) The Google Problem: Given the reach and depth of Google, we think that a simple search will answer just about any question. Given the number of Friends, Connections, and Followers that we have, we think that Social Media provides transparent access to relationships. In both cases, at best it is a start. A person’s profile (or a Google search) doesn’t provide access to specialized insight, specific-for-you intelligence, or a strong relationship – real world-interaction does.

This week’s action item: As a professional, establish the right balance of social networking vs real networking. Cut any recreational social networking that masquerades as real work, and increase the real-world networking that builds your professional network.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to
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Randall Craig

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Randall Craig has founded several successful start-ups, held a long-time position at a “big-four” consulting firm, and was an executive at an American public company. He currently serves as the 108 ideaspace CEO and chief strategist. Randall has been advising on digital strategy since 1994: he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail’s GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations.

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