New Survey Reveals Social Networking is Too Time-Consuming

March 24th, 2009 by Bob Bly

I have always contended that social networking is not a cost-effective use of the solopreneur’s time.

Now data from a new survey by Michael Stelzner confirms it.

According to the survey, people who have been using social media for a long time spend on average more than 20 hours a week on social networks.

Now, if you are a solopreneur working 40 hours a week, that means you’d spend half your working time on social networks — clearly impractical for self-employed people who valuable their billable time and productivity.

No wonder the survey notes that those working for a company are twice as likely as business owners to spend 20+ hours a week on social networks.

My conclusion: while social networking requires a minimal investment of money, the low ROTI (return on time invested) limits its desirability as a marketing activity for self-employed professionals.

How much time do YOU spend a week with social media?

Do you measure the ROTI — and find it worth the time invested?

Which social networking sites and activities account for the bulk of your time spend with these media?

Get the survey report here:

http://www.whitepapersource.com/socialmediamarketing/report/

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 at 7:57 am and is filed under Online Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

57 responses about “New Survey Reveals Social Networking is Too Time-Consuming”

  1. Posts about social media as of March 24, 2009 said:

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  3. Michael A. Stelzner said:

    Hey Bob;

    You’re only telling half the story…

    The reason they spend so much time is the amazing benefits they achieve, which we outline in the report.

    Heck, don’t forget that blogs are social media.

    Your readers can read the report here:
    http://www.whitepapersource.com/socialmediamarketing/report/

    Mike

  4. Bob Bly said:

    Mike: My point is that there are marketing methods that can achieve equal or better results in a small fraction of the time required, giving you a much better ROTI. When I send out a lead-generating mailing, my time expenditure is ZERO (my assistant does it, not me) and the benefits are huge. I would use social media if I could outsource it, but so far, my conclusion is that I can’t — you really have to do it yourself. Am I wrong?

  5. dianacacy said:

    As a self-employed writer, I agree with Bob’s assessment in my case. I’ve been spending a lot of time, although not 20 hours a week worth, on it now. For me, it gives me a good ROTI on the networking side because I am located in a remote location without any ‘active’ writers or marketing groups within driving distance. And I’m not to a status where I can attend conventions and conferences yet.

    Once I’m established to a point I’m happy with, I will keep it up. Probably to the tune of 4 hours per week time investment. Not for the marketing side of it, but for trust building and for keeping my connections as friendships so we can help one another out when the need(s) arise.

    But I can see how the ROTI is greater with other types of business setups.

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  7. Bob Bly said:

    Dianacacy: If you would publish a guide on how to get good results from social media in 4 hours a week, I think plenty of people would by it. Four hours a week is still too much time for ME, but for most people it is reasonable (20 minutes a day would be better).

  8. Michael A Stelzner said:

    Hey Bob;

    To help you understand the power of social media marketing, we have had more than 100 comments on the report since it went live this morning and nearly 10000 people have viewed it.

    I did not send a single email blast to my list OR post anything on my blog yet. Instead, I notified a few strategic people and the rest went nuts.

    So how’s that for no effort :)

  9. Bob Bly said:

    Michael, let’s not get into a pissing match. What matters in online marketing, and you know this as a successful info marketer, is clicks, conversions, orders, and adding names to the list — not comments or views. Comments. Wow. Who cares? When I was in sales briefly, my boss asked me: did you get the order. Imagine if I had told him: no, but people commented about it. Right?

    On the flip side, I WOULD be interested to know how you got 100,000 views. That is a report I would actually PAY for — hope you create it!

  10. Michael A Stelzner said:

    I would never get into a pissing match with you my friend :)

    We’ll have to see in the long run what you think based on what is yet unseen (meaning I’ve got more up my sleeve)…

  11. dianacacy said:

    I get links to guides all the time that claim the benefits, but I haven’t looked at any of them. For me, studying on how to improve my writing business is more beneficial at this time. I do know some full time writers comment using the sites when they need a quick break, such as taking ten minutes a few times of the day.

    I also know some people tie in two different social sites, so that when they post to one the same thing shows up on the other, saving time. I use both Twitter and Facebook. I do not tie them together, because it’s irritating to me to see the same thing on both places. Like forced deja vu.

    I will commit to setting the goal of business social site networking to 4 hours next week and analyze what I do (and should do) to see if it will make a report. I’m not sure I can get it down to 20 minutes a day though…not if I’m actually interacting with my targeted audience, and I don’t want to just post my own words without responding to a few others.

  12. dianacacy said:

    Added thought: In my opinion, social sites would work better for already established people, like you, Bob, and Michael, on a limited time investment. Your trust factor is already built in by your reputation. Someone without the reputation established already will have to work longer and give the site more time to produce the results they want.

    That’s my opinion anyways…

  13. Bob Bly said:

    Dianacacy: I would think social sites are better for people who are NOT established and busy, since they are trying to get known and have the time to fool around with it. I might desire to do more with social sites, but I do not have the time. I frankly don’t see how Michael does either, knowing how busy he is.

  14. David said:

    Hi Bob,

    In your 4th paragraph uou said: … for self-employed people who valuable their billable …

    I didn’t see that anyone else mentioned it.

    Otherwise … glad to see the study.

  15. David said:

    oops … see how easy it is?

    I meant you.

  16. Dianna Huff said:

    Bob,

    I learned of Mike’s report via Twitter — a few people I follow posted about it. It’s sitting here in my printer tray waiting for me to read it.

    Here is how Twitter helped me make a business connection I would have never made otherwise: http://marcom-writer-blog.com/?p=422

    Didn’t require a cold call, direct mail, e-newsletter, nothing.

  17. Bob Bly said:

    DH: My problem with everything I read by advocates of social media is they seem reluctant to measure or rate it by bottom line results. I assume your Twitter lead got you a big fat contract or will shortly from the watch company to optimize their site. And that’s impressive. If all you did is take a tour, that’s significantly less impressive.

  18. Dianna Huff said:

    Bob,

    I don’t measures social media results using “bottom line methods.”

    Much of my business is based on connections — who I know, who knows me. Those who know me refer work to me. I refer work to those I know.

    Social media helps me build and maintain those connections efficiently.

    So no, going to NY for the day did not result in a “nice fat contract to optimize the company’s site.”

    I didn’t expect it to do so. I personally don’t expect prospects to marry me on the first date.

    However, I did get out of it the beginning of a relationship with a brillant marketer, an inside look at a terrific company — and TONS of insider knowledge about luxury marketing.

    I don’t know how this all measures out “in the bottom line,” but then again, I don’t know how to measure whether a first date will translate into marriage, either. Should I have asked my husband, the day I met him, if he planned on marrying me?

  19. Dianna Huff said:

    Sorry — that is “measure,” not “measures”

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    Yani

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  22. Bob Bly said:

    DH: One way to get business is to build connections with social networking. A second way is to establish yourself as the top guru through writing and speaking. You and I do both. I prefer the latter method. That way I don’t have to spend a day meeting with a potential client with no compensation. When people see you as the guru (and I believe people see YOU that way in SEO), they come to you and pay your price — no need for dog and pony shows, yes?

  23. Dianna Huff said:

    Bob,

    Yes, I agree with you. But the watch women didn’t require a dog and pony show. And I was very happy to go to NY. Unlike you, I *like* getting out and seeing how the world lives. Makes me a better marketer. ;-)

  24. dianacacy said:

    You might be interested in this article. I know we speculated before if outsourcing social media is worth it or not.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/03/27/twitter-ghostwriters-brit_n_179829.html

  25. Bob Bly said:

    Dianacacy: I saw the TIME piece on Huffington — in my Time magazine printed on paper, not the web. Interesting that 3,000 idiots are happy to blog for her for free, resulting in her company, which is wholly owned by her and a partner, being worth a whopping $90 million. Is there something wrong with this piecture?

    Dianna Huff: Not sure how you conclude that I don’t like “getting out and seeing how the world lives.” I have given seminars worldwide from Poland and Germany to England and France. But whenever I go, I get paid because of my recognized expertise. I never have to pay my own way, which is a nice way travel if you can get it. And thanks to using the Silver Rule of Marketing, I can.

  26. Chad Kettner said:

    I don’t consider time spent on social media “work”. It is more of a hobby.

    If somebody is actually spending half of their workweek on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs then they are wasting their time.

    However, if they are spending their free time on such things – it is undoubtedly better for them than watching TV (or they could be on social media WHILE watching TV).

  27. Bob Bly said:

    Chad, I agree: if you do it in your free time because you like it, no harm, and lots of potential benefit.

  28. Dan said:

    Preface: If you’re lost on how social media can translate into “clicks, conversions and sales,” I hope this long-winded post helps!

    I would have to say I see it both ways. I understand what the advocates are saying, and I see what direct response marketers like Bob are saying.

    What social media advocates can’t seem to consistently articulate (aside from maybe once Perry Belcher vid) is this: social networking is simply real world interpersonal networking digitized. You wouldn’t try to apply direct marketing practices to a business networking event, and you wouldn’t expect to launch a marketing campaign with a “Chamber of Commerce Business Mixer Strategy” or whatever funky monster that might look like.

    Frankly, by a direct response marketer’s metrics, social media is a waste of time. Setting a direct mail campaign next to a social media campaign to compare would be an effort in frustration. From Bob’s earlier comment, Direct Response is about “clicks, conversions, orders, and adding names to the list — not comments or views.” I would say that until recently, it’s been hard to measure social media by those metrics. And when you do, the numbers suck.

    Social media just doesn’t convert like PPC, or SEO traffic. And certainly nothing like “analog” promotions. What I have found within social media is some emerging features that function with more quantifiable results. Specifically, what Facebook is doing with their “public profile” Pages, and their Social Ads program, is finally making social media approachable from a direct marketing purist’s perspective.

    Check out InsideFacebook.com’s post on the 6 types of ads Facebook offers and see if you don’t get some ideas.

    Now, I have only worked on this platform with brick and mortar businesses, but I can see how several of those ad types could work very well in an, where we’re looking for clicks. They’re both concerned with conversions and sales.

    Picture yourself (your company) having a Facebook page. You don’t underestimate the userbase’s ability to sniff out businesses who don’t respect the culture. So you do take time to make the page worthwhile by the community’s standards.

    Now see how you might use an event ad, for instance, to build traffic to your page, and ultimately your store/website.

    You create a worthwhile event that wouldn’t be rejected as an outright promotional piece. Were he alive today, Claude Hopkins might have orchestrated his infamous cake tasting via a Facebook event. So let’s use him.

    You pick your demographic/psychograpic. Brides-to-be need cake.

    You launch your campaign. You’re offering free samples of some of your award winning cake (to build your list) at your bakery.

    Your event ad’s goal is to get Facebook members to RSVP, and you get a certain percentage to do that. Brides-to-be like free samples, and the cake is mucho important.

    But it doesn’t end there. Each attendee who RSVPs has an announcement show up in their newsfeed (and thus their friend’s). Brides-to-be have swarms of friends who themselves would someday like to get married. They like cake, too.

    And, if you so choose, the ad grow virally by showing not just to your demographic but to all the friends of each person who RSVPs, along with an addendum above the ad announcing that that person has RSVP’d “and wouldn’t you like to attend also?” Betty might have unsubscribed from receiving updates from Suzy in her news feed, but the social ad will still show up for her. This way, you don’t miss out on marketing to Betty.

    So that creates real, trackable results that can take your company profile on Facebook from zero to hero. The kicker is that if you have a customer base already, you don’t even have to spend money on Facebook’s PPC program (which is really all Social Ads is).

    The aftermath of this event can continue to positively affect your business. Let’s say you got Jeff the wedding photographer to photograph the event. You make a point of getting every attendee to get their picture taken along with documenting their name (think school pictures, match FB user name to photo #). Then you post all those pictures to your Page, and tag each attendee in every photograph they appear in.

    Is this work? Yes, for your assistant. But the pay off is that you’re once again appearing in the news feeds of every single friend of each attendee. And that equals more fans of your page, more people exposed to your content and your marketing. More people on your opt-in list, and thus more people available for you to promote your business on a favorable basis.

    So from Bob’s perspective, Facebook, et al., is a waste of time as an individual. But it can be a worthwhile pursuit when approached as I layed out above.

    p.s. To Mr. Bob Bly: I did see your reply to my comment on an earlier post. I apologize for not getting back to you and your readers sooner. I don’t actually have a place for people to go and look for more information about my Facebook marketing services simply because I haven’t put anything official together. I feel into this specific niche of internet marketing purely by accident, and got my current clients quite by accident (and some strong arming on their part).

    If anyone would like to chat about FB marketing, social media and internet marketing in general, my email is contact [at] StrongLocal.com. My apologies if that’s too promotional, Bob, and I’ll understand if you take it down.

  29. Bob Bly said:

    Dan: You have encapsulated my reluctance to devote much time to social networking: it is the Internet equivalent of traditional in-person networking, and I never cared for or did much of that either.

  30. Dan said:

    Well, neither have I. If you were to look at my personal Facebook profile, I have only a handful of “friends” and I’m related to most of them. I originally joined as an appeasement to get them all to leave me alone.

    However, what I went into further in that epic comment of mine was what methods were available on that platform that reflect direct response marketing. I understand if you didn’t read it all. It’s a bit of a bore, really.

    Even though I disparage social media as far as my personal use of it, I’ve been enjoying the other side I described above. Which is more like DR than I ever would have thought a site like Facebook was capable of enabling.

    Anyway, Bob, thanks for the good discussion here. It sounds like you’ve made your mind up about it, and might just be looking for evidence to support your conclusions. I don’t disagree with them, just wanted to point out a side most social media advocate-types seem to leave out.

  31. Wendy said:

    I disagree somewhat.

    Social media, to me, is a hybrid between relationship/network marketing and direct marketing.

    It’s relationship marketing if you know how to be a strategic thinker as well as be creative with your marketing messages. In other words, what to say and where to say it. Targeting is key.

    It’s direct response as you can measure results. Granted, it’s not as cut and dry as some other online marketing methods. But, for me (and my business), I can specifically track any leads or sales back to specific social media platforms. And I can measure traffic to my website via Google Analytics.

    FYI, see these other two related articles I wrote on social media:

    http://musclemarketing.blogspot.com/2009_03_15_archive.html

    http://www.precisionmarketingmedia.com/publishers.html (article in “Online Marketing” section on “Measuring Social Media”).

  32. Bob Bly said:

    Dan: Actually, I am convinced it can work. My question is can I outsource my social networking to a guy like you and get away with it — or will the market fault me for using a ghostnetworker? If I have to do it myself, I need a plan that shows me how to get results in 15 minutes a day or less.

  33. Cynthia Maniglia said:

    I just read that Jennifer Aniston broke up with John Mayer over his Twittering and web site blog updating – which took him away from time with her.

  34. Dan said:

    Bob, if you’re going to approach it as Bob Bly the individual, no, you can’t outsource it. But if you want to approach it as Bob Bly, Inc. you can.

    I would never imitate someone, and have refused on previous occasions. So you would have to manage your own _personal_ profile. But administrating your public profile page, promoting your content, driving targeted traffic through that funnel to your product pages, blog, or whatever… That I can and will do.

    You have to separate the two. Michel and Sylvie Fortin have a public profile page, and (I’m pretty sure) personal accounts. Obama has a page, and you may have read how he had it (along with all his other social media activity) managed by a team headed by a former Facebook employee.

    Hope that helps.

  35. Charles Heflin said:

    If you are trying to use social media from a “marketing” perspective then your focus should be on ‘content syndication’ NOT being social.

    The core of successful social media marketing is your ability to have your content syndicated far and wide by a content syndication network that you have personally built.

    This PDF may help (39 pages):
    http://socialmediascience.com/docs/The-Complete-Syndication-Revelation.pdf

    Once your syndication network is in place then your time effort involved in social networks is less than 5 minutes for each new piece of content you publish AND the results are measurable in terms of opt-ins, leads, prospects, sales… whatever.

    The problem is that this has to be built. The building process can take some time but the reward is very positive. The ROTI is notable.

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  37. Michael A. Stelzner said:

    Wow, an entertaining discussion here.

    My prediction: Bob, this time next year you will be using social media to market yourself, your business and your process.

    Mike

  38. Bob Bly said:

    Michael: I already am. My disagreement with social media evangelists is that I view it as a valuable but supplemental marketing method, far less important than my web sites, content, and e-mail marketing. Many of THEM see it as the Holy Grail, the Next Big Thing of marketing, rendering the stuff you and I do (landing pages, white papers) as valueless, obsolete old media.

  39. Ian Brodie said:

    Wow. I’ve learnt more about how social media can (or can’t) really help a business from this thread and associated links than from anything I’ve ready in the last 6 months.

    The “more measurable version of face-to-face networking” strikes me as the best analogy. Like all analogies it seems so obvious when you think about it afterwards, but didn’t beforehand.

    Ian

  40. alice said:

    Major fault in your definition of solo entrepreneur, no soloE can survive if he only worked 40 hours a week. And they wouldn’t use it if it wasn’t working.

  41. ngan hang said:

    Great article. Social media marketing is helpful for my job.

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