Social Networking Overload

How much time have you spent on MySpace today? How about Facebook, Stumbleupon, LinkedIn, Squidoo, MyBlogLog, Bumpzee, or LiveJournal? That’s a lot of social networks to be on, but how many of you have accounts with all of them? I’m sure I’ve missed a few and I’m also certain that some of you may argue that one or more aren’t really social networks. The point is that they were all designed to connect people together into some sort of communities and that they all tend to take up a lot of your valuable time.

Matt Keegan and others have written recently about discontinuing use of MyBlogLog since Yahoo has taken over and made it more intrusive in terms of privacy. I can completely understand this. It’s alarming how much information all these companies have on us and they want to have more. Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft would love to have your complete life history, including medical, financial, and any other private details they could gather. This practice may not stem from any evil intent, but it’s scary as hell, nonetheless.

The social networks are probably not the biggest threat to your own privacy, but they do present a threat against an even more prescious asset: your time. I began this post by asking how much time you spent on various social networks today. I suspect there will be a variety of answers ranging from none to a considerable amount of time. This cost of participating in social networks is what concerns me.

After being a newbie blogger for a while, I realized that I needed to do more marketing in order to get my name out there. I needed to expose my blog and my writing to more people so that I could get more traffic and links to my blog. Social networks presented a perfect way to do that. Participating in these kinds of communities offered a built-in way of advertising. All I had to do was put in some effort… and time.

It turns out that keeping up with the social networking began to take up more and more time that could have been spent in creating more and better content. I think the Pareto Principle comes into play with this, too. In fact, it’s probably significantly less than 20% of the time spent social networking that provides 80% of the results.

Don’t get me wrong, though. Being a part of these social networks has helped increase the popularity of FreshBlogger. It’s also helped me to get to know and become friends with a lot of interesting people. At some point, though, the time spent on these networks has to be seriously questioned.

The Law of Diminishing Returns does seem to come into play here, too. If fifteen or twenty minutes a day social networking accomplishes your networking goals, two more hours of time spent doesn’t necessarily advance those goals much further. Actually, I think it helps to contribute to the phenomenon of social networking overload.

After spending a lot of time on MyBlogLog, I eventually stopped going there every day. It was simply taking me too much time and energy to read the comments and check out the blogs of new visitors. I’m sure I’m missing out on some cool stuff, but I simply don’t have enough time to keep up with it anymore.

I can’t be the only one to be experiencing this. Most bloggers also have day jobs, families, and many other priorities in their lives that demand a portion of their time and energy. Social networking takes a bite out of those important resources and the returns tend to be less and less over time. If you’ve been experiencing social networking overload, leave a comment and let us know about it. If you disagree vehemently, we’d like to hear from you, too.

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14 Responses to Social Networking Overload

  1. I’m at the stage where I am just starting out with the social networks. I don’t belong to all that many yet – I’m just taking my time trying to get to know one at a time so it’s not overwhelming (yet). I’d say at the moment I probably spend about 30-60 minutes a day but that’s only since I went full time. I always write my content first – social media is a nice ‘end of the day’ activity to relax with, especially StumbleUpon.

  2. Keith says:

    I sure have been experiencing social networking overload, but it all changed ever since I installed 8hands, the profile aggregator.
    It’s a really helpful tool for those who are members in more than one network. I now get live notifications upon any event, and I can keep track of comments and msgs without having to log in to a zillion networks a day.
    Before you entirely give up, give it a try.

  3. Pingback: Ignore the Social Media Scoreboard : Instigator Blog

  4. I have signed on to one social interaction group. I find that this itself takes up quite a bit of time with my posts getting comments and comments on my comments, besides my having to comment on posts of my contacts and so on and so forth. It also suddenly happens that a new contact decides to invite me to join his/her group and the chain keeps expanding.

    Since I am quite satisfied with this group, I do not see the need to join any more. I suppose that if the group does not satisfy one’s need for company in the net, one can keep experimenting till one finds a comfortable one. Otherwise, how any one can handle more than one or at best two is beyond me!

  5. Matt Keegan says:

    Ray, I belong to some 12 social media sites, but I must admit that StumbleUpon is outshines them all.

    Regarding MyBlogLog, I did join my MBL and Yahoo accounts together today after all. There was some contact information I needed from MBL and the only way to get it was to register and log in. I won’t be using MBL all that much, instead BlogCatalog will take priority.

    Like Caroline, I limit my time on the social networks otherwise they take the most important time of the day away from me: the time I need to spend with my family.

  6. Steve Mills says:

    After being online for many years I now limit my time for these time draining activities to pre-set block.

    I do about 30 minutes of facebook a week, if that and I still seem to be able to keep up with of my friends, messages and annoying widgets that people throw in my direction.

    As always with blogs, quality is key, and networking follows.

  7. SEO says:

    Now, I’m also belong to some 11 social media sites that contributed a much more traffic but it also took some of my important time. Social media sites can be a blessing and a curse. In terms of networking and social marketing, it is absolutely a blessing but when it takes your privacy and more of your time for your real life and family, as you said it is scary as hell, nonetheless.

  8. ray says:

    I joined a ton of social network sites over the first year of blogging, but I don’t think I would join another one now. I did spend a lot of time with some of them, like MyBlogLog, and in a lot of ways it did pay off with increased traffic and exposure. I just don’t have the time to keep doing that, though. Thanks for all of the comments!

  9. Essie says:

    I’m so pleased and chagrined, both, to find an article on this. Your writing and the comments really develop the the conflicting elements in the question of spending time in social networks.

    What I can take away from this of benefit is the diminishing returns principle and *try* to apply it. That is much better than being stuck in an all-or-nothing sort of conflict.

    I am new, the blog I listed below my email is my personal sandbox or playpen :) what I am busiest doing is setting up what I hope will be a largish network of sites. Launching the first few sites is extremely time consuming, as you all know. And without funds to invest in promotion, promotion is going to take much personal time as well. It feels like a zero sum game, for sure.

    The other question is *which* social sites to spend the limited time in, if one is not going to ban that kind of time. (I have, in the recent business phase.) I was an early adopter of Stumble Upon, though not very social, so I think returning there will be productive. I was about to launch into My Blog Log but it looks like it’s heading South. I see now that the question of which one or ones is not so important if the principle is used to limit time for any.

    I appreciate this article pushing this issue to the front for me as it’s bothered me every time I read some blogger lauding the importance of social network time.
    Sorry for such a l-o-n-g comment — maybe I need to get out more! ;D Essie

  10. ray says:

    Hi Essie. Welcome to FreshBlogger! I feel your pain about the social networking and launching new blogs, etc. It’s a lot of work and very time-consuming. As far as the networks go, I still think it’s useful to maintain a presence on at least the major ones, like stumbleupon and mybloglog. I still get significant traffic from both and have made some great connections there.

    Don’t bother apologizing for the long comment, either. I (and my other readers) appreciate your input. Thanks for commenting!

  11. digitalnomad says:

    Unfortunately, I think you are correct. I am coming to believe these are big time wasters. And I had high hope for SMM and SMO.

    I now am thinking article writing and posting less, but better content is the key. I am preparing to write some “articles”, not posts on this.

    I also believe that blogging can never be a serious home biz opportunity for the masses. Too many mommy bloggers, make money blogs, and self improvement blogs.

    Yes, the blogoshere is starting to look a lot like its big brother, the World Wide Web.

    I think there are probably better online income models. Blogs will probably survive as the journals they started life as, but the monetization models are getting weaker by the week.

  12. What a powerful point! The truth is they offer a good medium for any online marketer.Right its a timesucker. But there are ways around it.

    Automate the system with free and paid tools,or outsource it

    There are tips and tricks on using web 2.0 to power up your affiliate marketing and Clickbank commissions at http://www.squidoo.com/cbpro

  13. ray says:

    @digitalnomad: I agree that for most people, blogging will never be a full time job. There is definitely money to be made by blogging, but it seems to me that the big money is made in other ways.

    @Learn Affiliate Marketing: Yes, there are certainly some ways to make the best use of your time on social networking sites. I’m working on further utilizing some of the sites that I’ve been neglecting and we’ll see if that helps out some. Thanks for the link; it looks like some valuable information there.

    Thanks for your comments!

  14. I think a good way to moderate your time is to take breaks, or “fasts,” if you will. I’ve taken 3-month, 6-month, even year-long fasts from blogging or Facebooking or Myspacing or Youtubing and sometimes combinations of those. They are very fun, but just like anything, too much of it is bad for you.

    It’s kind of like going on a very strict diet and then gradually bringing fatty foods back into your life, but at a much lower level than before.

    Still, maybe it would be better to delete all these accounts and just take someone out for coffee once in a while! :)

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