There’s a video from Socialnomics on YouTube reporting that social media has overtaken porn as the #1 activity on the Internet. If their data is correct, that’s a whole lot of tweeting going on! No doubt the benefits of social networking have fueled its phenomenal growth, but there are drawbacks as well.
While today’s younger generation has easily embraced sites like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, social networking can benefit people of all ages. Social networks make it easy for you to communicate with old and new friends, alert you to what’s happening in your neighborhood or in the world, allow you to post opinions on people, places, products and events, and give you instant access to music, games and entertainment. All of this sharing and learning stimulates the mind and nourishes the spirit.
Businesses also benefit by social networks. Social networks have provided new avenues for market research, product testing, advertising, branding and customer feedback. Word of mouth advertising has never been more powerful. The credibility of user testimonials in blogs and tweets can have more impact on a product than a paid advertisement. You (the buyer) benefit by having access to a wealth of information that doesn’t come directly from the manufacturer.
The biggest drawback to social networks is time. While you might only need to check your email a few times a day to stay current, if you have hordes of people posting messages, videos and links to your various social network pages, hundreds of messages can be posted in a matter of minutes. The time necessary to keep up with it can be all consuming, mentally exhausting and nearly impossible.
Also, if the time you spend on your social networks is taking you away from quality time with friends and family, you might be neglecting the real face to face connections that are most important in your life. If you think a tweet that says you’re playing a game with your kid covers the best of both worlds, think again. How can you really be present playing with your kid if you’re texting a tweet to a bunch of people you’ve probably never met?
Time stealing at work is another drawback to social networking. How much of your time is spent on personal compared to work related posts during your average day? Excessive time spent on personal phone calls has never been tolerated in the work place, so why should Internet surfing or personal networking?
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to tell who’s really working and who’s not. Unlike the phone, you can’t hear what people are saying when they’re on their computer or PDA. If productivity declines because employees are spending too much time on personal networking during work hours, that’s definitely a trick, not a tweet for the company!