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Are you wasting too much time on social media websites?


In our business we measure and record absolutely everything for every client we have.

The reasons for this are manyfold but essentially you can use these data to adjust, fine tune, improve and convert.

Over the past 2 years we have been monotoring social media sites like facebook, twitter, linkedIn, digg, Bebo etc to see what positive benefits there were for business and the results are showing definite patterns and many problems.

From the data we have it's evident that certain social networking sites just do not work for business at all. Infact certain sites are counter productive and in some cases damaging.

The sites we have found to be most counter productive are;

Facebook, Bebo, LinkedIn, Tweetdeck and Twitter (almost anything twitter related actually).

The sites we found to be very productive are;

Digg, Stumbleupon, Technorati, Squidoo and Delicious. (Us3ed properly these brought in many forms of connection, lead and new business but unfortunately I'm not sharing this information on here)

The counter productive sites and issues we are happy to passon for folk's benefit. These below were quite prevalent.

Posting tweets, comments, what I am doing etc on sites like twitter, tweetdeck and facebook were extremely problematic.

The addictive nature of these type of sites caused extreme time to be lost at work. In some cases people would spend 3-5 hours tweeting, having conversations on tweetdeck, posting comments on facebook.

Clients have told us that they were using this form of communication to build networks in order to spread the word about their services and products. The result was no business whatsoever and the people they were communicating with were their competitors doing exactly the same thing - building networks and punting products.

We set a 50/50 split in our tests and asked people to set a timer on the amount of time they spent on twitter, facebook etc. This is where we got the figures of 3-5 hours. In each of the timings we asked them to record any leads, orders, appointments or business contacts made. Virtually none of the people asked made any business at all.

The other problem is that whilst doing so called "business tweets" or "posts" almost every single person would go off topic, start telling jokes, start posting articles from the BBC, start posting things from other websites.

Another thing we noticed was that people would quote articles, snippets from so called industry experts. This in effect promotes the expert and drives business away from your company. The reason people would do this is because they felt they had to keep posting something to be "out there".

Adding these things up resulted in serious amounts of time being wasted not making any money.

Another downside being that customer service suffered because people would be so busy tweeting that they would get back to customers late. Postpone meetings etc.

Aquisition of friends, followers etc. We saw a defite trend of trying to aquire as many friends and followers as humaly possible - again counter productive. Almost everyone we asked were doing the same things - quoting from other people, following lots of experts etc and "befriending" for the sake of numbers. Again this consumed large amounts of the working day for almost zero reward.

It's was quite worrying to see so much time being wasted on a working 8 hours on these sites.
Glad to see someone else reflecting firm evidence of this.... Good research there; well done...

Obviously not being directly involved in any form of web design we haven't any reason to survey this in any detail. But certainly the majority of my clients would tell you they're too busy working to p!$$ about with Twitter, facebook et al....

It's even worth reflecting that many AIM listed companies only have a website for regulatory purposes! Such is the perceived irrelevance to their business model (although that's not a view with which I concur) .

Certainly within my own industry the people who are struggling often seem to be the ones with the most 'active' online presence. Whereas those of us who knock doors and talk to folk struggle to get a minute to ourselves...


New Member
I must admit I don't bother with most but Twitter seems to be quite good for us. One thing I wanted was to get the road traffic feed into my website, so I use a twitter viewer insite to show the feeds for the Highways Agency, and I find that I collect about 2 or 3 new followers each day.

I also set the blogs to update twitter automatically.

It's all automatic, so each day 2 or 3 new people come discover me, and I don't have to do anything for it. So it works for me.

If I wasn't automatic would I bother - not really no.


New Member
I agree and disagree if that is possible.

Everything Stuart says makes perfect sense but then my own evidence says something else.

Twitter. = I have made 228 posts at lets say 1 minute per post so 228 minutes.

Lets call it double that as I do read some peoples posts so lets call it 7.6 hours I have spent on twitter.

Return in business = 2 customers but both are trade customers so are sending business throughout the year. To date spend from them £2300 so return is £302 per hour of my time invested.

It has also resulted on getting us several links and articles on other sites.

I have also had a better return than that via facebook and I hardly every use it as I find it a pain.

It has worked in a totally different fashion. People have found me on who I knew years ago when I was in PLC land or in the Army. They have connected and discovered what I do now. This has resulted in corporate bookings and some very nice deals. Just one booking was £6k! ROI I have not worked out but it must be huge because I spend so little time on it.

It has also acted as a recruiting tool as we get applicants to work for us via my profile. ( The above is my personal profile we do not have a business one)

It may just be my industry but the above are hard results.
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Verified Member
Very interesting post Stuarty but I guess based on some of the responses its fair to say that experiences differ in some cases.

We use most of the social sites you mention but like Boxby have set up automatic feeds so that our blog updates LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Measuring and having a clear understanding of the acquisition cost of each new customer is key element in both targeting and setting marketing budgets, and right up there with measuring the lifetime value of each customer, so monitoring outputs from these social sites, when possible, is definitely the right thing to do if your business's web presence generates revenue for you.

We've seen a steady increase in sight traffic since we created the autofeeds and observe a step increase if we post useful (or what we hope are useful) information in related forums or discussion boards and at the same time have seen an increase in our CTA conversions so it works well for us but I can see why it wouldn't for others.

The point you made about people 'going off target' is an important one, especially for Employers. Many large companies simply block social networking sites to avoid this exact problem but if you routinely task staff with engaging in the use of these various social media networks to promote your business as part of their job clearly this won't happen so you need to be set up in a way that will enable you to address issues with them spending more time messaging mates, etc. Employers should make sure staff have clearly written job descriptions and include an internet / e-mail policy in place, discipline and grievance policy, etc in their contracts of employment / employee handbooks.

Yes - I see the irony in my above paragraph :tongue_smilie:

Back on target.........this approach may work for some but not for others but the key thing is to measure / monitor results and continuously review and tweak your approach to maximise your results.