Facebook, they say, is the king of all social media. They also say that it is the best way to reach your target audience and get your message across. Everyone talks of having Facebook pages and forming groups with like-minded people. It all sounds amazing. In fact, do a little search about social media and business promotions, and 99.99% sites will tell you how great they are. But here I stand, probably in that 0.01% category, about to ask you some really hard questions about social media, especially Facebook.
- Have you had any real tangible success with Facebook or any social network? Ever made a real and tangible sale?
- Have you got back whatever you invested in these social networks?
- Did your customers go beyond liking and sharing to actually making a purchase?
- Could you place your hand on your heart and say that Facebook actually made you money?
- When you evaluate the time and money spent versus the value derived from Facebook, do all the parameters feel like they’re in balance?
While the answer may be a “yes” for some, most of us out there are silently nodding our heads. And you know what? I am one of you. I spent about $62,500 per year on Facebook alone, and let me tell you the bitter truth that only a few dare to speak: I got nothing in return. It was good money gone down the drain. And not just money. The many hours and effort too were wasted on a tool that has done nothing for me. In fact, had I just invested all that time, effort, and money elsewhere, I would have made a lot more.
I’m sure that when hearing this, the so-called social media experts will tell me the number of things I did wrong on social media. They will tell me how great going social is and why my strategy failed. But I’ll add here that after the experience of spending so much money, I did one good thing: I quit social media. Instead, I’m putting in my time to get stuff done in the real world. I made some real deals talking to real people. And this time around, I made money instead of spending it liking and commenting on Facebook.
While all that does sound good, most of us out there are spending way too much time on social media. It is time to look hard at your social media accounts. And before you go about taking the drastic measures of shutting down all accounts, ask yourself the tough question. Is your social media activity bad enough to just stop using it completely? If it isn’t generating any direct revenue, then is it in any way helping you build your brand? Don’t get me wrong — social media can be a good tool, especially for building a brand and you should use it. I mean, we built our entire brand through social media. But you need to do that in a focused way and for a limited period of time. Here’s how I started limiting my social media usage and what you can do about it too.
We often start off on social media with very noble intentions, telling ourselves that it would take a small effort to be active. And then we end up checking everyone’s updates, counting likes and checking the comments, followed by replying. We go and check out the statistics, try to make sense out of the reasons for the highs and lows, and spend more time trying to correct our actions. A five-minute session becomes an hour, and an hour becomes two. And that time is something you’ll never get back.
So that brings us to the first step: Set a deadline. Keep it from five minutes on a weekday to perhaps 45 minutes on weekends. No more time splurging, just good old efficiency.
Do the Math
Doing the math on your activities is one of the best things you can do and really paints a clear picture of how much you need social media and what costs are reasonable to put into it. For example, let me say that I spend one hour on Facebook every day, which means that one hour worth of money has been spent on Facebook. So, if my annual profit was $500,000 and I worked over 8 hours per week and 50 weeks per year, that would equal out to losing $65,200 per year, right? Now replace these figures with what you earn and how much time you’re spending on Facebook versus the value you are actually getting from it.
Say “NO” to Distractions
Social media is the number one place distractions pop up. While you may start off with absolute focus, you soon realize that you want more likes, shares, and comments. And that is something you can only get when you like, share, and comment yourself. As you go through that annoyingly time-consuming process, you realize you’re getting distracted. You were supposed to be sharing an update and that was it.
A good strategy that I follow for reducing distractions is to open only a minimal number of tabs. Try to make yourself do only one thing at a time.
Make a Plan
As it is with any work you take up, social media needs planning and goal-setting. So before you start out aimlessly promoting yourself on Facebook or other tools, take some time to think about what you’re going to be doing. List your brand values, set your objectives, and define the activities that will take you closer to your goals. If you plan on spending time on social media yourself, you will have to first get some understanding of all the tools that are available. Once this is done, stick to the plan, work within deadlines, and then log out.
Sign Out of Accounts
That’s right. Just log out. One of the best ways to stop social media from distracting you is to just sign out of all accounts and disable auto login. This way, you think twice before logging into an account, and those few seconds can help you choose wisely. The activity of signing out of accounts will also automatically curb your urge to check every single update and feel the urge to take a peep all the time, which is a major time-waster. Take it as far as deleting the apps from your iPhone or iPad.
Start Using Experts
Want to get stuff done? You can always hire good social media experts who will do your work for you. Because they have expertise and experience in the line, they can often do things much better than you. In fact, that’s what I often do today. For me, social media activities are time wasters, and so I delegate those tasks to social media experts who do it well. They not only look into sharing good postings, but also plan out strategies to use on social media! What more could you ask for?
This gets me the brand value I desire without having to put in the time (which I don’t desire!). My website guys are based in Belgium, and they absolutely kill it for us. You don’t need local knowledge. The world is a big place, so go out and find someone who can really make it happen for you and your business.
Most Importantly, Don’t Lose Focus
I want you to sit and think about it. Think hard. Outside of making you wonder about the lives of other people, has social media served you any greater good? How many times have you just logged into your account planning to quit in a couple of minutes, but never really did stop and wasted a boatload of time? For me, these activities are pure time-wasters, and I would be losing plenty of money if I’d choose to continue doing that. STOP picking up your phone during dinner time for the purpose of spying on other people’s lives. Sit down and think what your objectives and goals are, and don’t lose focus.
Social media might be a very powerful tool, but the hard reality is that it costs you either time or money. And so it’s important to know where to draw the line. In my personal experience, I’ve found it counter-productive. So, I suggest you too to consider whether your time on Facebook or other social media platforms is actually bringing you in more money than what it is actually costing.
Before I finish, I’d like to say that social media, when used in a focused way, isn’t a complete waste of time. It is a great place to build your brand. But expecting it to generate revenue is not always the right thing to expect. Here too, I speak from personal experience. Our branding and reputation have taken years to build, and the number one platform that caused us to be where we are today is social media.
Entrepreneurs: What value have YOU gotten from social media? Do you believe it’s a valuable tool or a time-suck?
Let me know your thoughts with a comment!