Is Being Permanently Connected to Social Networks Good?

Nov 6 2010 by Kip Keilty | 14 Comments

Is Being Permanently Connected to Social Networks Good?

The introduction of Facebook, Twitter and the like has opened up a whole new world of social interaction and distraction. Suddenly, we can be connected to friends, family and colleagues with the click of a button. Instantly, we can discover what our friend had for dinner or whether their day was a good one or a bad one. Social networking has transformed the way we communicate; there is no denying we live in a permanently connected world.

But can social networking be a bit of a double-edged sword?

As much as it can open our world and succeed in connecting us with ease, it can also be a huge distraction. Its addictive qualities can swallow up hours of our valuable time, and waste companies billions of dollars[1].

The surge in popularity of smart phones that allow us to access the web has meant we carry our entire social networking world in our very pocket, giving us more reason to stay connected. As well as a balanced argument about the prickly subject of social networking in the workplace, we’ve come up with some pointers to help you decipher when to cut back on your social networking usage.

The Pros of Staying Connected

Why does it seem everybody’s got a problem with social networking sites? What’s the harm in staying connected to the people we care about? Social networking sites can not only be fun, it can also be lucrative if it opens up your business to additional revenue streams and clientele. Often, the virtual world is our oyster.

Here are a few advantages of being constantly connected to social networks.

We Need a Break Every Now and Then

Humans weren’t designed to focus on one task consistently, and in order for creativity to flourish, we need breaks in order to see a new project with a fresh approach. A study by The University of Melbourne showed that those who visited websites of interest actually had improved concentration, boosting productivity by 9%.

Improve Income and Loyalty of Customers

A study by Rice University Jones Graduate School of Business regarding Facebook Pages conducted on a retail business in Houston, Texas found that customers spent an additional 45% in the store, increased customer loyalty 41%, and trafficked the store up to 36% more after they decided to use the social networking site. This study shows that using social networking services can have potential benefits for a company.

Save Time Keeping Up with News

Instead of ringing around our friends to double check when an event is still on or whether your friend has indeed split up with their partner, all you need to do is log into Facebook and you’ve saved yourself time and energy, and bagged a bit of gossip, too.

Open Up New Opportunities

Social networking sites can act as your own personal marketing spokesperson. We are told constantly to sell ourselves in job interviews, and our profiles can often do all the hard work for us.

Companies can set up social networking profiles or update their customers via Twitter, all the while building contacts and leads.

Distraction is Commonplace in the Workplace Already

Email, water cooler chats and mobile phones pose particular productivity threats to employees the world over. Relative to other distractions, is the use of social networking services really that bad? Workplace distraction is nothing new and there is a long list of things we, as employees, have to contend with, with some being more harmful to productivity than others.

The Cons of Staying Connected

Social networking sites are known to have addictive traits that can drain valuable time and money and become a persistent distraction, endangering the productivity of workers. So what’s the damage they can wreak?

Security Threats to IT

A study by Sophos published this year reported a 70% rise in the number of organizations experiencing spam and malware attacks via social networks in 2009. The same study expressed that 72% of businesses are of the mindset that employee behavior in social networks could endanger their business security.

Social Networks Can Lead to Financial Losses

A study by Nucleus Research revealed the use of Facebook alone shaves 1.5% of office productivity. IT consultancy company, Morse, evaluated this productivity loss could cost businesses $2.2 billion a year.

Lost Opportunities

Much has been said about the rise of companies checking out prospective employees by viewing their social networking profiles. They say a picture tells a thousand words: One dodgy photo and an opportunity to be hired by that company you have been dying to work for can be lost. We need to be careful about what we post on the web: An employee posted a comment on Facebook saying her job was boring and was shown the door shortly after.

Tips to Boost Productivity

Although social networking sites can indeed open doors, it can be difficult to know when to draw the line, especially if your job involves marketing and networking through Facebook or Twitter.

Here are our top tips to keep you focused and help you take charge of your work-life.

Establish a Daily Routine and Work Schedule

A daily routine is essential to staying pro-active. It helps us organize a healthy lifestyle and can ease distractions in the workplace. Coordinating a work schedule which clearly shows guidelines involving when to start work, when to take breaks and when we should be finishing work helps put boundaries down, putting emphasis and value on our time.

A structure also keeps us focused and less likely to stray off track. Try to stick to a good amount of working hours; 7-9 hours, 5 days a week is usually a good amount of time and creates a healthy structure to our week.

Make To-Do Lists

To-do lists can ensure you stay on top of all of your work commitments. They also help you get to grips with everything you want to achieve in that day. The best way is to put the most important tasks at the top of the list and make sure they are all crossed off at the end of the day. You can make them and stick them to your fridge or plaster a Post-it note on your computer. You can even use a web-based service so that you have ready-access to your to-do list anytime, anywhere; Gmail, for example, has a simple built-in task list feature that integrates with other Google services.

Limit Your Technology Distractions

Workers who constantly check their emails, social networks, and phones are setting themselves up for continual distractions. An email newsletter, a text message from a friend, a link sent by a colleague through a Facebook update — these activities cause distractions, and if you don’t keep them in check, they can take up a significant portion of your workday.

If you allocate timeslots throughout the day for checking emails, social networking feeds, and phone calls, you are less likely to stumble upon distractions.

Take Regular Breaks

Breaks are essential to keeping a positive mood and in turn, can boost our concentration. Taking a break means getting away from your computer, so trade that sneaky look at Facebook with a lap around the office building. Getting outside your home or office for at least half an hour each day will improve your productivity in the long run.

Make the Most of Your Free Time

On the days that you are less busy, take the initiative and stay productive. Rather than slipping into the constant distractions of tweeting and Facebook updating, involve yourself in admin tasks, catch up on reorganization that you let go because of being short on time, and see if work you have finished can be served from being looked over and refined.

And when you do have leisure time off, use your time wisely.

Conclusion

By all means, indulge in social networking endeavors, but put limits on the length of time you use them. Make sure you devote your time to things that make you happy and relaxed including (non-virtual) social interaction, resting and hobbies. This will all prevent you from falling prey to social networking addiction.

References

  1. Facebook and other social media cost UK billions. reuters.com.

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About the Author

Kip Keilty writes for BroadbandCompare.com.au, a comparison site to find plans from a range of broadband providers in Australia.

14 Comments

sajangrg

November 6th, 2010

very useful article Kip. You made it crystal clear about the pros and cons of social networking. I must admit that I’ve been quite addicted to social networking. Now, I really need to take some regular breaks.

Usi

November 6th, 2010

As you discussed that some good and bad aspects of Social Networking, I would like to appreciate your ideas and it’s really true! This is right that social networks help us much but at the other hand some of us waste a lot of time.

BUT on other hand social networks also change to business and it is good way to make some good relations with your clients.

Gabriele Maidecchi

November 6th, 2010

I am not in favor of blocking social networks access to employees for one reason, if they are not focused on their job, they’ll find any distraction, social networks being just one of the many.
If someone doesn’t like what he’s doing, or doesn’t feel productive in a work environment, the problems lay elsewhere, and those should be the one to be solved first.

Marcell Purham

November 6th, 2010

I think social networking has changed the world forever because it’s not just a place for friends its a place where you can connect with your family and former friends from earlier times in your life so i think its good to have them around and don’t see the cons of being on something for a long period of time.

Raul Ochoa

November 7th, 2010

Personally, I’ve benefited from social networking a lot. It’s a great part of my marketing campaign for my website. It helps me connect to potential customers and bring credibility to my company. I like using Facebook and Twitter. Those are good sites and help a lotion my SEO.

Scott

November 7th, 2010

You need to have a break regardless of your situation. Fair enough social media can aid and benefit your life but it should’nt be used to live your life.

Dustin Dyer

November 7th, 2010

I feel like I’m not connected enough! I don’t mean that in a personal sense though. I mean that I’m not connected enough in a business sense. It’s important to always stay on top of the “latest and greatest” in your own field. So if you are trying to make it… (not to sound hokie) stay connected!

Dave

November 7th, 2010

1. “We need a break every now and then.” That’s an argument for “always” connected?
2. Improve income and loyalty of customers. A study of ONE business … and in the study it notes only 5% of it’s customers used the FB connect, making it a “niche” marketing device. In addition … need we talk about what “increased” percentages look like when using initiating baselines and relying on self-reporting?
3. Can’t argue with saving time and keeping up with gossip of friends who need to record their every move on FB and Twitter. Of course … “keeping up” with said “news” creates an artificial need to spend time on such activities, undermining the concept of “saving time.”
4. If my business profile on FB is doing “all the hard work for us,” I’m screwed. Seriously.
5. Distraction is common already so why not go with the flow? Really? THAT’S truly a (how was it put) “pro of staying connected.” Kind of like encouraging office politics because it’s always been there too-what a compelling argument.

some guy

November 7th, 2010

The internet as a whole is banned at work. I don’t really mind, I get more work done, although it does stop the creativity sometimes. Social media is bad for the workplace.

benedetta.s

November 8th, 2010

Really interesting article. I think social networks are useful if people don’t abuse, obviously.

David H

November 8th, 2010

I think the key for using social media, especially if being leveraged for professional purposes, is the create a routine as outlined in the article. It has huge potential for connecting with those in the community but also has enormous potential for distraction. Personally, I have found it helpful to devote a set amount time in the morning to setting up our company’s social media for the day and then largely forgetting about it throughout the day while I work on other projects. It is a warm up of sorts each morning.

Thanks for the article. Very nice points.

Jay Khatri

November 10th, 2010

As an extension of Gabriele Maidecchi’s comment, I would like to say that these websites make people addict to continue using like searching friends waiting for backcomments, chat etc. I think companies must have some private hour to take care of this for the employees.

So in the nutshell in social networking everything is fair until you are not addict.

Robert Baughan

November 15th, 2010

This article really interested me and made think about social networking in two completely different ways. Working on the marketing for an online recruitment company called Guru I use social networking in both a professional and personal basis. This makes it extremely difficult to stay away from the messages and updates from my friends while I am online and tweeting, facebooking or using LinkedIn for work. Social sites are also being used more and more as a standard part of the recruitment process. To ensure they don’t miss out on the best jobs, people need to use these tools, and while this is fantastic for recruitment or hiring companies – for managers, they know that their staff now have far more contact points with competition employers than ever before. Healthy competition or an unwanted headache?
Rob Baughan

toodie

March 14th, 2011

boredommmmmmmmmmmmm . OMGG ! People who act as if social networking sites are badd , are the same people who STAYSSSS logged in 24,7 !! so stfu already ..

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