Is Social Media Too Distracting?

Lately Twitter has become my preferred social media tool of choice. Howard Rheingold has written a thoughtful post highlighting the virtues of Twitter. He covers Openness, Immediacy, Variety, Reciprocity, Audience, Asymmetry, and multiple level of interactivity with various sources. Now I have shorted and combined a few of Howard’s reasons, but the two items that really struck a cord with me were the Immediacy and the Reciprocity. I think these are the reasons why Twitter has become my social medium of choice.

I interact with such a wide variety of people that regardless of the time of day or subject matter, someone is always around with an answer, opinion, or just thoughtful commentary and I believe that is what makes Twitter so immensely satisfying as a tool for communication. Why do you like Twitter so much or do you?

Now even with all of that said, Twitter like so many other things can be a distraction. Greg Verdino has written an article, which honestly didn’t get me very excited until I saw the conversation it started. Greg was inspired by a Tweet from John Burg who asked:

If we literally turned off all this social media / Web 2.0 stuff for a day would business productivity soar? And inversely, would innovation stumble?

Now Greg goes on to give his own answers to that question, which are worth checking out. But I feel the real value is taking the time to read the comments on his blog. It has started an excellent conversation there and I would also like to start it here as well. Would we be more productive and less innovative if we didn’t use part of our time to twitter, instant message, blog, or otherwise participate in other active social media events during the work day?

  • http://TwitterTutor.com Mark

    Talking, you left out “talking”, imagine how productive we’d all be if we simply stopped talking!

  • http://affordable-seoservices.com Jason

    Yes. Of course, so is everything else! We have to focus more on focusing…

  • http://www.newhomessection.com Jayson

    That question has too many answers. It depends on the person, if they use twitter to quickly find answers to tough, work related questions then not using twitter and other social media sites would likely decrease productivity and innovation. If they use twitter to chat with friends and talk about the upcoming weekend or last night’s game then I’ll bet their productivity can be increased by not using twitter.

    It’s the person and what their goals are. If they go to work to work then social media isn’t a problem but if they’re there for a paycheck and they’re just trying to float through life then they probably could get more done without social media sites. I tend to think that if people didn’t waste/spend their time on social media sites, they would waste/spend time on something else.

    I’ll always encourage employees, friends and family to blog, post on forums, visit social media sites etc., if you’re in the right places, the education and networking abilities are priceless.

  • http://www.gowfb.com GoWFB

    I think it is a good question, “If we turned off all this social media for a day would business productivity soar? And inversely, would innovation stumble?”. I dont think that productivity would soar, simply because if people were not doing this, they would be wasting time doing something else, and yes innovation may well stumble.

  • http://www.tucsonseosolutions.com/blog.aspx boris

    You are a respected fellow in this SEO subculture. Having said that, let me ask you this “What is the ROI from your Twitter time?”

    I have yet, to read where anyone is actually creating a ROI from Twitter. However, I do read a lot about people being addicted to Twitter.

  • http://successfulteaching.blogspot.com Pat

    I think the important thing to remember is balance. Too much of anything is not good. I have been on Twitter for about a month and I believe that I have gained more useful knowledge and made more network connections than I could have in a year. I just wish I had found it sooner. Of course I also read, hike, travel, and crochet.

  • http://www.moneytreeprofits.com jim

    i think too many people use too many social bookmarketing services.

    I have found that if you use the best ranking ones…like digg, facebook, youtube…etc the higher more popular ones instead of using every soc media site and have 40 accounts your results are alot better…

    remember its always quality on quantity if you want good results.

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    I know that I get a lot of value from Twitter including:

    * Testing new ideas with the people that follow me
    * Getting help – there are smart people who follow me
    * Branding – it’s a great tool for personal branding
    * Product feedback – I can get quick feedback for new products and services
    * Hidden news – lots of valuable information is shared by those on Twitter (which stays on Twitter)

  • http://www.ioergercreative.com Roderick Ioerger

    @Boris – So far my ROI has been pretty solid. If I were to measure the amount of time I have spent on Twitter and bill my hourly rate and then measure out the value of the information I have received that I could practically apply for my business, then I am well ahead.

    I have to admit though, without the Twitter list started by Brian and the tool that was made to make adding all the people on that list simple, it might have been a different story.

  • http://www.thevanblog.com Steven Bradley

    I think it depends on the person. Social media can be distracting, but it can also be productive. It depends on why you’re using it and how much you let if affect.

    I’ve gotten a lot out of Twitter in the short time I’ve been using it. Good information, answers to questions, an inside look at the thoughts of different people, increased communication with people who’s attention I hadn’t had before, and the list goes on.

    Social media can take up a lot of time and not all of that time is necessarily productive, but there’s nothing wrong with that either.

  • Relainer

    For younger people it really is distracting and though just for one day it wont make an effect gradual reduction in the amount of time spent on social media would be nice.

    But for one day there really wouldn’t be an effect people would just sleep or go outside(if they can). Saying that innovation would stumble is exaggerated as well. Its an interesting topic though

  • http://www.dotcomsecrets.com Internet Marketing Joy

    same here..nowadays I’m kinda hooked with Twitter because of how efficient and easy to use it.

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