The Swirling Vortex of Social Networking

by Donna Fontenot April 2nd, 2008 

Social networking is increasingly becoming a vital aspect of our search marketing efforts. The connections we form amongst our online social communities can provide ever-expanding avenues of awareness of our sites, brand recognition, and ultimately buzz and link-love.

Sadly, however, there is a dark side to social networking. This dark side is one that we'd rather not talk about because we are afraid we might see it within ourselves. What could possibly be so scary? I call it the swirling vortex of social networking.

How many social networks do you belong to? How many do you actively participate in? How much time each day do you spend in this networking process? I'm not sure how many people want to honestly evaluate the amount of time they sink into this activity each day. I can tell you that at one point, at least 80% of my working day was devoted to social networking. 80%!

Social networking is a fine activity to place on your to-do list, but it should not be the only thing on your to-do list! Unfortunately, social networking is addictive, and it can suck up your time before you know it. Since it can be passed off as "all part of your business strategy", the time-sink can be justified, and that makes it even worse.

I recently had to stop and take a hard look at my long, long to-do list, and then compare it to what I was actually accomplishing every day. I had to face the fact that I had immersed myself in social networking to the point that I was being sucked down into the social vortex, and was getting nothing else done.

I then set about to make a new plan. That plan still includes a couple of hours per day for social networking. It is important, and I won't ignore it. But I've scheduled several hours per day for other tasks that I've ignored for too long.

I use a virtual assistant (not of the human kind) called Sandy to remind me events, tasks, and to-do's every day. She keeps me on track. After I created my new plan, I gave her my schedule, and each day, she lets me know what I need to be doing – at the moment I need to do it. Now, when Sandy tells me to write a new piece of content for Site x, y, or z, I can focus on the task at hand and get it done. I need to note that during these scheduled tasks, I completely unplug. No IM. No email. No Twitter. No social connections of any sort. Just me and my task.

I can't tell you how much productive work I've accomplished since I started this. It's been great. I'm still socially connected every day, but no longer am I swirling down that social vortex. If you've managed to balance out your daily tasks, congratulations! If, however, you think you might be one of those people pictured above, you may want to consider spending a day re-thinking your strategies.

I've shared my strategy for crawling out of the vortex. If you have a different strategy, I'd love to hear about it.

Donna Fontenot, aka DazzlinDonna, is an Internet Entrepreneur and SEO, who has long utilized search engine optimization and affiliate marketing to create a successful online business. Her goal as an ebusiness coach is to help others make a living online from the comfort of their homes (and in their pajamas). Her motto is "You'll never shine if you don't glow."

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8 Responses to “The Swirling Vortex of Social Networking”

  1. Great post, Donna. You're right, it all can become addictive. The Sandy approach has merit but I find reminders on Outlook largely keep me on track. The important thing is to decide how to slice up your day versus your priorities. Then re social media I treat them like a walk down a crowded city street. You see some people and some you miss. Ah well, there's always tomorrow. I'm sure they won't forget you. It's the only way to stay sane. :)

  2. Shana Albert says:

    I might have to give Sandy a call. I spend a lot of time social networking…. A LOT OF TIME!! I'm in some desperate need of a major time management overhaul. Maybe I'll see if Sandy can do anything for me too. Thanks for the great post, Donna. :)

  3. I've spent a LOT of time on StumbleUpon. Lots. There have been days when I read, read and read most of the day, and that's fine once in a while. After all, I do this for fun and education, which is a good thing, except when nothing else gets done.

    One thing that's helped me with time management is deciding that when I'm doing it I'm really doing it. No using social media for procrastinating, or the vortex is the entire world.

    I've also put myself on a little bit of a Stumble diet of no more than about ten reviews at a whack, after which I take a walk. Putting a beginning and an ending on a thing helps draw attention to what else is out there.

  4. spostareduro says:

    I definitely can relate with this! Omg..

    I think I may also need to establish a better game plan. I'm checking out Sandy too. Thanks Donna.

    Vortex for sure. (eek)

  5. James Duthie says:

    Very relevant topic Donna. I wrote about it myself recently and have taken a similar approach to yourself. Too much participation turns into procrastination. Priorities and a schedule are necessary steps to avoid getting sucked into the vortex.

    Personally, I've limited my social media usage to lunch breaks. I've also restricted my usage to Sphinn & StumbleUpon. It probably means I'll never be a true power user… but hey… I've got a full-time job to do dammit :)

  6. Brad says:

    I have to say this was a powerful post for me. I am currently trying to grow my site and I can sometime get so focused on marketing and social networking that I don't have time to get out good content… And lets face it. Good content is what grows a site not marketing.

    I am just getting started with Sandy but it looks like I need to giver her more work!

    -Brad

  7. Dave says:

    As someone who has never used a social networking website, I'm amazed at how addictive it can be. I will bare this in mind when I decide to join one.

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