Monday, February 20, 2012

Social Media: an Investment or a Time Drain?

Social Media the Investment:
For writers, or anyone else who wants to promote themselves or their work, social media can be a brilliant investment of our time. And here's why:
  • A way to connect--Social media offers a great way to connect with people we wouldn't normally reach. It's also a great way to be 'seen'. In writers' speak, it's a great way to build a platform.
  • An information resource--I can quickly find answers, or leads to answers, I can't find via Google or Wikipedia. Sometimes I need that firsthand knowledge, or simply an opinion.
  • Staying up-to-date--I use social media to keep in touch with what's happening in the publishing world.
  • Catching opportunities--There are all sorts of opportunities available through social media. For example, this is where I hear about contests, anthology submissions and query critiques, etc. I've met all my critique partners through social media.
Despite the way most social media is designed, it's not a thing you can just jump into and expect everything instantly at your fingertips. It takes consistency and time to build those connections, resources, and opportunities--which brings me to my next point:
Social Media the Time Drain:
Social media can be addictive, especially when you start picking up a few followers and start making those connections. There's a real sense of validation that comes from it and, let's face it, it's lots of fun. However, this enjoyment can entice you to spend more time on social media than you need, to the detriment of your other priorities.

While you'll only get out of it what you put in, there will come a time when you'll have to ask yourself what exactly you want from it. If you aren't getting what you need, then it will become a drain.

So, yes, while social media is a fabulous investment of our time, if we pour in more time than we need, then we'll burn out and our other priorities will suffer. Everyone is different so only you can work out the right balance.

My next post will be Tips for Cutting Back without Losing Out.

Have you fallen into the trap of spending too much time in social media? How much time do you spend on it?
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A big thanks to Shah Wharton for the Versatile Blogger Award. Please visit her and say hi from me.

63 comments:

  1. Lynda, you already know the time I devote to it! I will be scaling back after my book release and then again after the A to Z Challenge. But I am here for so many more reasons now than why I began blogging. I have the IWSG (which grew faster than anticipated) and the Challenge. Not to mention all of my blogger buddies. It has been worth the investment, because I can now use my massive Ninja Army to help promote and support others. And that's worth every minute.

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  2. I spent a lot of time at Blogger, but not too much at Face and Twitter.

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  3. I am addicted to blogger and find it such fun!! But I now only post once a week and just comment instead throughout. I find Mondays is pretty hectic for commenting but it soon tails off come Friday (bar bloggie friends joining blogfests)! And as I don't spend time thinking of what to blog about daily, this arrangement's worked out for me! So I would say Monday - lots of time on blogger - not so much come Friday and the weekends! :-)

    Take care
    x

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  4. 5 blogs a day when I work. Check e-mail from I-Phone when at work. Facebook and Twitter on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

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  5. What a great post, Lynda. I certainly spend more time on social media than I should!

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  6. I used to do a blog post almost every day. Now two or three entries a week seems to be plenty. It definitely takes balance to be able to make progress on WIPs while staying connected.

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  7. I think I devote too much time on social media, especially my blog. It definitely takes a large chunk out of my day.

    Somehow, I have to learn to juggle my writing and my time spent on social media.

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  8. Right now I'm going to go with time drain. It's just one more thing I can distract myself with. But that's more my fault than theirs. And it has been nice to reconnect with long lost friends. I just wish I'd never discovered Social Empires on Facebook. So much writing NOT getting done.

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  9. Ack! I'm still working on the balance thing and finding the minimum level of investment it takes to get the most out of social networking. I've decided, though, if I need a break from the blog, I'm taking it. Some days are easy to devote to blogging and others I need to reserve for my writing and other priorities. I think everyone understands that need to retreat once in awhile.

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  10. I need to scale back. I have precious little time to myself during the day and sometimes I don't get to writing because I'm trying to keep up with my social media.

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  11. Great post. You make a valid point about how much time we put in it. I am a relatively new blogger and still working hard to build a following. As you know this requires a lot of time. I spend a great amount of time reading and commenting, but so far it it worth it. I have made great contacts, good friends and have met hundreds of people who are all so willing to help me whenever I have a question. I don't spend much time on twitter, but I hear that it is addictive and time consuming. I love how social media has opened so many doors, but I must find a way to manage the time I spend with it. I need to develop a system, but I have yet to figure out how. Thanks for the informative post.

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  12. I loved this. I'm stopping over from the Campaign. Cheers.

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  13. I know that blogging and social media do keep me busy but I try not to let it get in front of my writing. That comes first. Love the support though.

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  14. What a great topic, Lynda! Finding that balance between social goals and 'butt-in-chair-work' can be tricky. I've hesitated to set up blog tours and such - even knowing they can add to visibility and success - because I want to concentrate on my writing. Choices, choices...

    I look forward to your next post!

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  15. This topic is with me every day. If I had a book published then I would definitely be spending more time on social media. At present, I'm moving at a steady pace, slowly building up followers when I can. My writing will always remain No. 1, however.

    Another superb post!

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  16. I spend little time on social media, there is too much other stuff to do.

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  17. I go through phases where I spend too much time. In the last 1 1/2 years, I've spent fewer hours blogging. Still, I'm curious for your next installment.

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  18. Alex, you need a slogan for your Ninja Army... maybe you could run a contest on the best slogan ;)

    Dezzy, same here (as you can tell from my slow replies on twitter hehehe).

    Old Kitty, it IS so much fun isn't it! And yes, you have to find what works for you.

    Komal, hopefully I'll be able to give you some tips in the next post.

    Erin, I don't know what Social Empires is on FB and I don't think I'll ask either. ;)

    Luanne, absolutely! I'm a fan of breaks.

    Christine, that's all too easy to do.

    Melissa, I think reading and commenting takes the most amount of time.

    Nadja, there are a lot of choices hehehe

    Joanne, that's one of the key elements for social media. If you don't have a product to sell, then you don't need to spend as much time on social media.

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  19. Excellent post, Lynda. I look forward to your next one. For me balance is the key. The time drain aspect can be frustrating and make it tempting to just give it all up but personally I think it's a mistake to throw away what took so much time and effort to build. Better to cut back when necessary, take a break, reduce hours online or whatever it takes to maintain a presence without overdoing it.

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  20. Ohhhhhh man... I need therapy. Serious. ;) I'm a total addict!

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  21. It does get addicting. I'm working on spending only so much time on social media...so it doesn't take time from my writing time.

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  22. I've definitely fallen into that trap. Especially with the constantly updating stream of Twitter - to navigate that is to have one foot permanently rooted in the past as you try to retrospectively catch up on life.

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  23. I haven't really fallen into this trap, unless I know have the time on a certain day b/c I've finished what I need to do. I'm too scheduled. But I can see where it could be a problem.

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  24. With the closer of Borders Books (my bread and butter) I need to use social media more than ever. Its working to close the gap as I sold a lot of books through Borders. So yes, I use it a lot.

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  25. I'll be interested to see your tips on scaling back without missing out. I have had to scale back as my workload has increased, and I miss my bleeps. Like you, I met all my critters through blogging, I got my agent through blogging, and I get loads of support and information. It's a great resource. But it can eat your life... :D <3

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  26. I'm absolutely trapped and bound! I need to make some adjustments though to ensure my writing does not hurt because of it. I haven't figured out how just yet.

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  27. Oh yeah, I've been trapped. I am a total social media addict. =)

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  28. I've been thinking about this question for awhile because, although I have a blog, I've never quite got the social media "bug." It's been a bit more of a burden than a delight, if you take my meaning. Nevertheless, I understand that it can be a great tool. For me, I'm taking a step back and trying to figure out exactly what I want to accomplish by having a blog.

    So I will be watching this space :) Thanks for sharing Lynda!

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  29. Very true--a double-edged thing, social networking. I've cut back on Facebook, checking only twice a day. I haven't had much time for visiting others' blogs like I used to, though I DO visit the ones who have taken the time to visit my blog.

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  30. Definitely an investment--if not overdone. Happy MOnday!
    BTW, I just tagged you for a post!

    Nutschell,
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  31. I only got into blogging because it's what's expected, but I've made so many friends here and I'm glad I took the plunge. But it is a drain. I try to visit everyone who visits me, but it's not always possible. I tell myself I can only afford to devote one full day a week to blogging. But I do keep up on Facebook with 30 second peeks. And even occasionally Twitter, though to be honest, I really don't see the appeal.

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  32. I'm not on Facebook/Twitter/other social networking site, so all the time I spend in social media is on blogging. I tend to do about 2-4 hours of it a day, less on weekends.

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  33. Thanks for the great article! Yay!! This is my first campaign and I hope to "meet" you! ~Theresa Sneed, author of No Angel and its forthcoming, From Heaven to Earth

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  34. Hi there! Campaigner finally getting to making my rounds.

    I know exactly what you mean about them. I've spent a year and a half building a nice group of people that I'm really starting to connect well, but I've wasted so much time on them! In the end, though, at least some of the time was a good investment.

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  35. I created a strict schedule for it. The other stuff has to get done.

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  36. Great points, Lynda! Admittedly, I do spend a lot of time on social media. In fact, my Mondays are devoted to it. To me, it's worth it. :)

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  37. I've cut back or entirely stopped using certain sites because I was getting little or nothing from them, but I devote time to the ones where I make the most connections. I'm an active blogger and Tweeter, and Facebook comes in third. I've "met" fantastic people on them, and I've met many in person at conferences.

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  38. KarenG, totally agree. It's not worth throwing everything away. It's just a matter of finding the balance that works.

    Laura, yep, schedules are a fantastic way of keeping an eye on the amount of time spent on social networking.

    Leigh, lol, I love the way you put that: 'It can eat your life' So true.

    Bess, working out exactly what you want/need is the first step.

    Carol, absolutely. It's a good way to cut back a bit.

    Nutschell, thanks so much for the tag

    Nancy, cutting back on visits is also another way cutting back. Most people understand, especially if you have many followers and comments.

    Golden, having the one network is helpful for keeping it manageable.

    Theresa, welcome!

    Brenna, welcome. And yes, not all the time is a waste.

    Carrie, that's the key--if it's worth it, then it's worth it.

    Medeia, that's a smart move.

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  39. What's a person to do? It's the old 'damned if u do - damned if u don't' syndrome ... Social media is a fact of life for today's author and one must put in the time and effort to begin reaping the benefits. but as u said, it can easily take over, leaving little time for actual writing or other responsibilities.
    Sigh ... oh for the good ol' days!

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  40. A great post Lynda! But if not for social media we wouldn't be armed with all the knowledge we have today in this epublishing world, don't you agree?

    I have an Australian author who was asked to re-release her print books by a big Australian epublisher. Because this is digital times now.

    http://romancebookhaven.blogspot.com/

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  41. You are right, social media is a lot of fun and can be overwhelming. I think you get out of it what you put into it. I've gained so much from the connections I've made through blogging.

    I usually read blogs and/or am on twitter or facebook in the evenings while I'm watching tv with my husband. My days are for taking care of my families needs and writing. I think having a plan on how much time you are able and willing to devote to social media.

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  42. When I first started blogging, I spent hours writing posts and reading and commenting on other people's posts every day. I've always liked blogging, but I finally had to limit the time I spent on it. It's hard to do that sometimes, though, especially when I'm doing work on the computer. I'm always tempted to take a break and peek at few blogs, but that "break" can often turn out to be a very long one.

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  43. theres too much fun! have to limit it, as with other things we enjoy and become consumed with...
    i still dont twitter or pinterest yet.

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  44. I’ve nominated you for a blog award! You can check out my post here: http://theliterarymom.wordpress.com/

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  45. I probably spend maybe half an hour a day on social media on days I don't blog, more like a couple of hours on days I do. But it's so worth it in terms of what I get out of it. Just the opportunities alone that I've learned about from other bloggers are incredible, and of course the connections to other writers are such a blessing!

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  46. Help! I've fallen (into the trap) and I can't get up!

    Well, there is certainly no better posting than this today, to really twist that knife of irony in my gut. *g*

    Lynda, you've been *tagged* by me over at my blog. I couldn't resist playing along. I couldn't resist asking you! Inquiring minds want to know what makes you tick, in the smallest of ways. Such as, do you believe in Muppets?

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  47. Sometimes, I feel I spend too much either chatting on FB with my writing friends or blogging.

    I am planning to cut back on my social networking time.

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  48. Great topic! This was something widely discussed at my writer's conference this weekend. I think the key is to set time restrains on how much to do each day.

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  49. Blogging counts doesn't it? That easily adds another hour or two for me.

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  50. I'm absolutely dedicated to my blogging friends, and sometimes that means a little too much time spent on social media. I feel like I'm letting someone down when I miss something big on their blogs.

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  51. I go back and forth so I can't wait for you next post. I need that one!

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  52. I enjoy social media, but I've cut back on it (especially Facebook) and try to keep the time I put into it at the very beginning of the day and/or at the end of the day. This keeps me focused--a little. ; )

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  53. Tracy, ah, but in the 'good ole days' it was harder to learn about the publishing industry, harder to make connections and find the much needed support. It was also harder to research topics for your writing, harder to edit, harder to type! ;)

    Romance, absolutely. Social media is a fabulous tool.

    Workaholic, lol, that 'break' sounds all too familiar ;)

    amymarie, thanks so much for the award

    Susan, half an hour a day is a great way of doing it.

    Scarlett, hehe. It's an easy trap to fall into. And thanks for the tag.

    Rachna, it gets a bit like that and it's good to cut back if you have things you want to achieve.

    Dwei, yep, blogging counts.

    Ciara, yeah, I get that feeling too.

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  54. I spend more time than I should reading blogs, but I don't do Facebook and haven't really got my head round twitter. I use it as my treat after I've done boring stuff like job hunting :-)

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  55. Social media has definitely been a worthwhile investment in my time, but I sometimes do feel the drain. It's difficult to be everywhere and try to do everything. I'm trying to find that precarious balance once again.

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  56. It's hard to say... I definitely devote a few hours a week to it, but it's fun! And I try not to spend too much time on games, at least...

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  57. Hi, new follower here! :) I totally agree that social media (for me, Blogger and Twitter) can take up a TON of time. I tend to swing back and forth between lots of internet socializing and lots of actual writing, while neglecting whichever one I'm not doing. It's hard to strike a balance!

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  58. Yes. It's the unfortunate thing that with my blog growing to my current size, I'm having to work harder and harder to maintain the relationships with my readers. :-/

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  59. Great topic! I have to say some weeks I spend too much time, and sometimes not enough . . . and I need to be consistent with a "just enough" amount which I'm not sure I've found yet.

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  60. Just wanted you to know I'm spending hours on Facebook and blogs to avoid schoolwork. At least I wrote a little this morning.

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  61. This post is so much better than mine, LOL! I should just delete mine and put a link to this post there.

    ;)

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  62. Deniz, yeah, I used to be hooked on the games. That truly was unproductive time.

    Shelley, Hi and welcome! It is something that will fluctuate.

    Misha, exactly. Hopefully I can give you some tips in the next couple of posts.

    Tyrean, keep trying different things and you might find something that works for you.

    Theresa, I thought it was part of the curriculum to avoid schoolwork. ;)

    ibdiamond, popping on over to check out yours. Do not delete! ;)

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  63. I go through spurts of keeping up/getting behind on my blog reading. Facebook and Twitter are hard to keep up with if you aren't on it everyday, which I'm not. Right now I'm only doing one blog post a week. That will change when I do the A to Z Challenge in April.

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I'd love to hear your opinion. Thanks for leaving a comment.