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The Case Against Facebook

by Randall Craig on February 22, 2011

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Social Media, Time management

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Catchy title, but it should have read The Case Against Social Media.  Depending on how progressive your organization is, you probably have heard one of the following two party lines:

1) We need to block Facebook (and all Social Media) because it destroys productivity.
2) We need to spend significantly on Facebook (and all Social Media) because we need to “join the conversation”.

Both are overly simplistic:  here’s why:

Social Media Destroys Productivity: It is true that spending time doing one activity usually means less time is available to do something else.  But this argument about productivity makes the assumption that people, if left to themselves, will no longer meet deadlines, nor strive to improve in the eyes of their managers and clients.  The truth is that the vast majority of people care deeply about doing a good job.  Those that don’t care would simply abuse something else if Social Media weren’t around.  And even if you accept the argument that blocking Social Media is the right thing to do, most people can access it directly through their smart phones instead.  Social Media doesn’t destroy productivity, people destroy productivity.

We “Must” Join the Conversation: Social Media provides a great window into the marketplace, allowing companies (and individuals) to connect directly with prospects, customers, and other stakeholders.  Without full engagement (eg heavy investment), the organization is at a competitive disadvantage, and will grow more and more remote from the “reality” of what is happening.  This argument doesn’t take into account that at a certain point, the marginal benefit of “more” investment is very low, and the opportunity cost of spending more in Social Media (vs somewhere else) may in fact be extremely high.  Of course the organization must join the conversation, but the degree of engagement must be monitored and measured.  And it must fit within the overall marketing strategy – not be bolted on after-the-fact.

In both of the above cases, Social Media success boils down to one factor:  Management.  It’s not new technology that creates productivity issues – it’s poor management that does.  And it’s uninformed management that allows Social Media to consume far too much time and/or budget.  The Case Against Social Media probably should have read The Case Against Bad Management.

This week’s action plan: How do you manage your own Social Media productivity?  This week, carefully separate your personal Social Media “entertainment” time, from work tasks that need to use Social Media.  Keep a log – you’ll be surprised at what you learn.

Bonus: We have developed Social Media strategies and internal policies for many organizations, and have sat down with IT, HR, marketing, legal, and line managers to help address the balance between productivity and market connection.  If you are in an organization where you feel the balance is too far in one direction or another, please call.  I would be happy to share some of our best practice experience with you and your colleagues.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

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About 

Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at randallcraig.com and 108ideaspace.com.

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