Living Socially

Below is a comment of mine to a blog Post by Howie Fenton about the possible "time suck" effects of social media.

You can check out his original post here:


To some social media is a noun. As a noun it's a channel (or series of channels depending on how many social media technologies one chooses to lump under the definition). People can choose to tune into the channel and watch, listen...and even participate or not. I think of all the debate over all the years about Howard Stern. Although I didn't listen to his show, I thought he was funny. As for those who thought he was vulgar...stop tuning into that channel.

To others social media is a verb. As a verb "doing social media" takes time. Some like to do social media and some don't. I admit time can fly when you are doing social media (blogs, twitter, facebook, linkedin, youtube and more). If you don't want to do social media, you don't have to.

“Social Media is about enabling conversation”, said Lon Safko and and David Brake in “The Social Media Bible.” They went on to say, “social media refers to the activities, practices and behaviors among communities of people who gather online to share information, knowledge and opinions using conversational media.

Imagine the debates when the telegraph, radio, television and the internet came along. People using the existing technology saying the “new” way is taking away from what we’re doing today. They're no different than the debates the printing industry had over flatbed scanning, desktop publishing, CTP and digital print.

There’s always another ways to get something done, you interested in trying it? It could be one hell of a ride. Or perhaps it could be a 54 hour bus ride from hell going to see a relative you don’t even like. That’s time you’ll never get back.

It takes time to debate whether it's a time suck or not. Nothing wrong with good debate, people can learn from it, just make sure you're doing something else besides debating or else the world will move on without you.

People have choices. We've always had them. People are choosing to use social media as a way they want to communicate. I can't tell them to use it or not use's their choice. (Businesses can mandate whether an employee can or not). How much time they spend on it and what they do on it is up to them.

If you take away the opinion (analysis) from the report it says there are more people choosing to be online using social media tools doing social media activities. That's less people watching tv, listening to the radio, reading the paper, reading a magazine etc.

The print industry is funded by people's needs (consumer and corporate) to communicate via print. There’s an opportunity here to raise our awareness of new ways to communicate. It costs less than a TV or radio studio but it does take time.

What about using social media for your business? Use it to participate in conversations with your customers or provide them support the moment they need it. Use it to get found on searches  or share information like WTT does. Use it gain knowledge and grow skills and experiences. If you try it and you’re frustrated that "it doesn't work" or “takes too much of your time” it may not be a channel for you.

But that frustration some people feel is EXACTLY what many customers of the print industry are feeling these days. B2B, B2C, association and non-profit markets are acknowledging that people want to communicate in different ways. They're splitting what's left of their smaller marketing/communications budgets into smaller portions so they can free up funding to try web site development, e-mail and social media themselves. These choices can take away from the profitability of the print industry.

Helping our customers use a mix of channels that can be used to connect with existing and new customers could be a great way to spend our time. We can even use our experiences of trying it ourselves at home and at work as part of our pitch.

There will always be more channels. And not all are effective as others. But if people are given a choice to communicate the way they want to and they go there to do it; I know I want to learn more about it and will invest some of my time to see what it’s all about.

What amazes me is that there are some people out there that actually click on the link in the e-mail from the President of a foreign land who needs my help. Someone is choosing to watch reality tv and tend a crop in Farmville—not my thing. It's all about choice.

What will you do with yours?

I gotta get out for a run. All this social media is making my butt sore.

Thanks Howie for starting this up. And thanks to everyone else who's participating. That's what living socially is all about.