08th Jul 2010

Social Media – Is it a “Time Suck”?

I have attended a number of seminars recently that have something to do with Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, and the others. One comment that comes up from small business people is “Social Media is a major time suck”. I know how easy it is to spend way too much time on Facebook and Twitter. Part of the problem that some people have is simply that they follow too many people.

One of the best principles I learned was from Valdis Krebs who suggests following fewer people to get to the many in his classic post ““So Many People, So Little Time.” (The link is: http://bit.ly/ciOetE – I use the service at bit.ly to shorten links to use in Twitter and to track the link analytics. The actual link is: http://www.thenetworkthinker.com/2009/01/so-many-people-so-little-time.html) In this post he makes this observation:
The trick is to find the people that reach many social circles and follow them. Of course, we need to find more than the minimum of people to follow — you want some redundancy in your network so that there are multiple paths to places of interest for you. Finding these key nodes is what social network analysis is all about.

And this is why I follow so few people on Twitter! For the time invested, I want maximum return. I use the redundancy of connections, between the many social circles I am interested in, to my advantage. I follow a select group of people that give me the same access as following someone in every group. Follow the few to reach the many!

Because I have chosen them carefully, I want to actually read the tweets of the people I follow. A small part of my “following network” is always in churn, but the number of people I follow on Twitter never exceeds 100 [currently I follow about 70]. Those who follow thousands of people readily admit that they can not read the fire hose of tweets they get every day.
So if you are serious about using Twitter to keep on top of certain topics you should follow Valdis Krebs’ advice. I know that I will keep it in mind as I go forward with my own Twitter account.

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