Ever since Myspace came on the scene in 2003, CEOs and employers have been working to ensure that social networks don’t affect the productivity levels of their employees. Countless policies have been written and dozens of programs have been installed on company computers in an effort to prevent employees from accessing social networking sites during work hours.
A few weeks ago, LearnStuff.com claimed that social networking costs the American economy $650,000,000,000 per year. After the initial shock of seeing that many zeros in one row, I really started to think about social media and how has affected my personal productivity over the years.
My side of the story about social media and productivity
When I took my first job as the Social Media Director for an international nonprofit, my friends were envious and my grandparents were confused. I got questions like, “So you just get to play on Twitter and Facebook all day?” and “What’s Tweeter?” I had to explain why my job mattered to the overall growth of the charity countless times.
As I started learning how to effectively use social media to prove ROI, I had to discipline myself against the temptation to mindlessly scroll down to the end of my Facebook Newsfeed or watch my Twitter feed for the latest tweet.
Overtime, I began to learn that I could actually leverage social media to enhance my productivity instead of hinder it. Instead of skimming my Twitter feed for the latest news, I would actively engage in conversations that lead to offline interactions. I scheduled appointments with meaningful LinkedIn connections that could create a mutually beneficial partnership. I scheduled times throughout the day to write, strategize, and complete the other tasks I was assigned.
In the end, I was able to leverage social media to improve my overall productivity and success.
Tips for leveraging social media for productivity
If you’re like me, the temptation to scroll through Twitter or Facebook for 20-30 minutes hasn’t gone away. If you’re looking to leverage social media for productivity, here are a few tips:
- Create ways for using social media to eliminate communication barriers for your business. (e.g. – Google+ Hangouts, private Facebook groups, internal Twitter feeds)
- Focus on engaging in conversations that provide the opportunity for offline results.
- Don’t feel as if you have to read every Tweet or status update.
- Use downtime (before you start your workday, waiting for a meeting to start, breaks) to catch up on your social media sites.
- Download software like Anti-Social that blocks all other Internet sites when you have to be productive.
The final verdict
Can social media negatively impact productivity? Absolutely. However, if you discipline yourself and learn how to use social media effectively, you can use it to improve productivity and results.
In a day and age where thought-leadership and inbound marketing connections are some of the most powerful sales tools, social media is simply another way we connect with people. It’s your opportunity to seize or waste.
What other tips for leveraging social media to increase productivity would you give?