Social networking is taking up more and more time for Internet users. In the past year, the average number of minutes per day spent on social networking sites has doubled. Indeed, Facebook has seen a 700% rise in average minutes usage since April 2008.
It’s not surprising that we are all being sucked in to the social side of the Internet; after all, humans are social beings. We depend upon friendships for all sorts of things, such as self-esteem, enjoyment and even trade. Most business people do business with people they know, so we even have to be social for work and our own businesses. And besides without being social, how would we reproduce…? We are naturally social and as a result online social networking is a natural place for us all to gravitate towards.
However, there is a clear downside. With so much time being spent on social networks there’s a chance you end up online for ages and find it difficult to keep up with everyone. Well here’s the answer – don’t try…!
Consider your social networking groups in the “real world”. You might, for instance, work in an office where it’s a common thing to all go out for a drink after work every Friday night. You might also be in the local Sunday league football club, who you meet twice a week – once on a Sunday and once on a Wednesday for training. You could also be in your child’s school parent-teacher group that meets each month as well as be in a business networking club that meets every two weeks. In the real world, you keep up to date with your social groups by spacing them out.
Online, however, people tend to think that they must be on Facebook, Ecademy, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter….etc….every day. But you don’t. What you need is social network “rotation” – just like you do with your “real world” social groups. So, for instance, you could make Mondays your Facebook day, Tuesdays your LinkedIn day. Or you could make the first 15 minutes of each day your Twitter break, then perhaps have a “Facebook lunch break” where you meet up with your friends for ten minutes each day.
It is a mistake to think that you need to be on all your social networks, all of the time. Like a good farmer who rotates the crops for maximum yields, humans get most out of their social groups when they too are rotated. Not only will “diarizing” your social networking ease your workload and time-related stress, it will boost your online life because you will be more focused on each particular network.
In the “real world” you don’t worry about your Friday night drinking buddies when you are in football training on a Wednesday or at the school parent-teacher meeting the day before. So it’s true in the online world that dealing with social networks one-at-a-time is bound to be better for you psychologically – and more productive.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+