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Social networking is a waste of time/money


I first thought it said “waiting for something to bing” – as in email, facebook or twitter notifications.

Hmmm actually social networking isn’t a waste of a companies time and money. But it’s a little hard to convince non-believers. Some random facts about my foray into social media, user generated content and online communities: and yes, I know most people keep their contacts and how -they-connected to themselves but we are talking about a new transparent era in communication, right?

  • Twitter profile – has brought me quite a few leads. @kerryank on Twitter liked my tweets, found out more and offered me the keynote for EDNA in a few months time. Twitter is not a waste of time. and press: A News interview (@rosshill) and ABC radio gig (@fanbloodytastic) both came from crazy Twitterers who also liked my tweets. And I like hanging out with thought leaders like @shelisrael, @scobleizer and @jowyang. Yes I’ve had one-to-one tweets with ’em. Talk about accessibility! Mind you, not sure that this really backs up my argument about finding work, but it is cool. 😛
  • Facebook profile – people have found me through friends on facebook. And given me work. I’ve introduced people to each other on Facebook and they’ve lived happily ever after. s’not just LinkedIn that connects people. I’ve been able to help people find jobs (not just consultancy) and I’ve also been approached to do public speaking and give press interviews through Facebook. Some of us pass around advice to each other and I manage most of my Middle East work on Facebook (thanks @fang !)
  • My blog – started it all. Maxine from WebDirections, Damien Smith from Network Ten, Lisa from Telecom New Zealand. All stumbled across my blog and threw opportunities my way. In fact I am massively and karmicly in debt to all three of ’em for believing in the vision of this blog as it existed a couple of years ago.

I’ve never spent a cent on traditional ads and marketing (oh ok, a couple of bucks a month on Google Adsense that doesn’t work cos I haven’t set it up properly). And I’m being a little disingenous as Public Speaking and my public University courses have no doubt helped as well. But mostly, social networking online has helped for me.

You know, I can hear you thinking: well, that’s the industry she works in, of course it works for her! If that’s the case, then riddle me this, smartypants: why does it work for career but I can’t get it to work for my love life, hmmmm? Heh

Anyway, I hope that helps you with your rebuttal of the old “Facebook is costing corporates a bazillion dollars per year” arguments.

EDIT: some blog love to Stephen Collins at AcidLabs for responding in kind.

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Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

13 thoughts on “Social networking is a waste of time/money

  1. As somebody who works part time, social networking is invaluable. I am able to use Twitter, Facebook as well as other tools and networks inside the firewall at IBM, such as our blogging community to create strong global friendships. This has led to me finding some great mentors and becoming involved in some exciting initiatives. Works for me.

  2. ah but companies diss ‘mentoring’ and non-bottom line initiatives. ROI has to be a dollar value, right? 😛

    Except IBM of course, who are really cool and with-it re: social networking 🙂

  3. I have to say social networking sites have brought me a LOT of benefits for my own personal projects and social life.

    That being said, I don’t work in an industry which is remotely IT/web related so I am yet to reap any awards in social networking and to be honest, SNS is indeed a huge waste of time in my corporate environment. Keep in mind though, I work in customer relationship management – you’d think SNS like Linkedin would benifit me but my clients are yet to embrace the technology and find it a waste of money.

  4. You’ll certainly draw the search hits with the title! Perhaps it was deliberate? 😉

    They’re in for a shock when they get here.

    Jasmin (Wonderwebby) is in the privileged position of working for an organisation with an enlightened view of social networking. I envy her.

    You have the benefit of being an established name in the social networking space (while I continue to plug away for name-ness) and can generate income from your social networking ability.

    As a newish independent, I’m yet to establish enough reputation to draw work based on my blog or tweets (or, maybe, I’m talking about the wrong stuff…?) Hopefully this will change in 2008.

    You’re right about ROI and the like. Organisations that continue to think in this way will be late to the party on the value of social networking. I look particularly at the attitude in government and shake my head. There could be significant value being drawn by appropriate use of social networking in government agencies, yet the block at all costs mindset remains.

    I’m sitting here during my lunch break using mobile broadband on my notebook to post this comment as Blogger.com commenting is blocked through the client firewall. At other places I’m aware of, RSS use is banned, or Google tools beyond search are actively blocked. All because these organisations see no value connecting their employees to either each other or their client base.

  5. @grum good point: how much of yourself you reveal in your social networks = return on investment. Particularly do you state what industry you work in (I know you on Twitter yet have no idea) and do you announce publicly when you are looking for a job? So I wouldn’t send you an interesting article or a blog, or suggest you to a colleague for work, cos I ain’t clear what you do 😛

    e.g. if you were in banking I might point out Zopa to you, or if in superannuation, there’s a great super blog.

    We get back what we put in. If I want to use social networking for social things, then I get social benefits. If I use online communities for business purposes, then I get the business benefits, no?

  6. @stephen collins are you sure that you aren’t just forgetting where you met ppl? For example we met through blogs no? I know I’ve nominated you for a few public speaking roles which haven’t yet paid off, but if they do, that’s one social networking connection that worked…

    Have you ever used a contact you met through twitter or blogs or facebook to meet someone else? I had someone introduce me to someone a few weeks ago on LinkedIn (the only time that service has worked for me) but there must be less formal instances, no?

  7. @Laurel, I’m not naysaying. I agree with you 100 per cent. I’ve gained immeasurable non-paying and intangible benefits from social networking – meeting people, making connections, speaking at conferences.

    I doubt very much I’d be where I am without it. What I did say is that so far, unlike you, I’ve not directly drawn paying work via social networking (although that could change very soon).

    I’m playing a little Devil’s Advocate on the part of those who will continue to chant, “Show me the ROI!” With social networking, ROI metrics are hard to achieve in the short to medium term. What can be measured qualitatively is things around people – connectedness, ability to get things done quickly, access to knowledge and information. These things need to establish credibility as measures so that the social networking cynics can be convinced.

    And now that I’ve put together some useful thoughts by commenting here, I’m going to pinch them back to my blog and post them.

  8. @Laurel At this stage I approach social networks the same way I do my own social life – I reveal too much about myself in public and tend to freak people out 😉 SNS to me is simply an extension of my after-hours me.

    I would love to use SNS (or even the web in general) in my professional life, however I work in a Government industry which has a very old fashioned style of networking and nobody is willing (or can be bothered) stepping out of the walled garden. Heck, we don’t even have anything remotely close to a blog or a SEO’ed website – too much red tape, public scrutiny and old fashioned thinking prevents us from evolving.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think SNS is a waste of time professionally at all – you just need to be in an industry that (as a minimum) partially accepts the concept. And don’t think I haven’t tried to make changes around here – online communities and social media governs most of my after-hours life however I am yet to blend it into my professional life.

    If I ever take the plunge and turn my personal projects into a real profession, I’ll say without a doubt SNS will benefit me greatly. But until I do that, it’s just another way for me to waste time at work 🙂

  9. “Crazy twitterers”? Anthony and I had better close our accounts and head off to the asylum before it gets any worse!

  10. I must say that getting leads via social networking sure beats the traditional methods of advertising and networking.

    The key is that you form relationships with people BEFORE they decide to form a business / financial relationship with you and contract your services. They know a bit about the way your work, methodology and background before you do the first bit of work for them.

    This, plus mentoring and sharing of ideas mean that social networking, by which I mean writing and reading blogs of some value (not annoying people with facebook zombies and pokes) is probably the most productive time that you spend all day. Very hard to quantify this with actual $’s though, so I can see why companies cast such a disapproving eye over their employees using it on work time.

  11. Dunno that you need a “real” relationship first: quite a few people do a search on what they want, find my name then come and hunt me down in social networks. Works for me. 😛

    SN vs Static Page stats: Brand recall 5x higher, return to site 5x higher, stickability on branded page 9x higher, technical support/customer support 1/5th, cost of acquisition of customer 1/10 of normal cost. There’s a few stats out there. Some of them are 10 years old – we need a new study. Anyone? 🙂

  12. Social Networking is now very essential especially to those working online.
    Bloggers and online marketers are getting good money using social networking.

    Social networking also helps people reach their love ones and to find their loved ones.
    This is now the reason where major people use computers and laptops.

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