Where does your day go - Social media and the water cooler?

Good question?  Especially if you’re working to a deadline and it’s fast approaching.  Do you regret that extra five minutes’ chat by the water cooler?  Or the extended lunch hour/ten minutes on the crossword over coffee?


These, and other time-wasting tactics like them, have been the traditional reasons why our time evaporates and we can’t get things done, but in today’s world there is another, very good cause of diminished productivity.  And given that increasing productivity is the number one problem in the UK economy at present it’s perhaps one we should try to address…


It is, of course, social media.  You may be reading this blog having clicked on a link on a tweet or Facebook post, so you know exactly what I mean.  But just how bad is the ‘problem’? 


According to the most recent survey by Global Web Index, the ‘average’ person worldwide spends one hour and 40 minutes on social networks each day and has five social media accounts.  Now I know what you’re thinking, “One hour, 40 minutes, is that all?”, but here, in Britain, we’re actually behind the curve, spending a mere one hour 20 minutes on average on social media, and usually managing only four social accounts per person.  At the other end of the scale, countries like the Philippines, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil spend up to and over three hours a day on social networks.  Moreover, you need to know that this survey is based on 47,000 internet users and includes those people who don’t use social media.  That suggests that if we were to look at only those who are active online and on social media the figures would be even higher!


What’s really interesting, and demonstrates the pace of change, is that you only have to go back a few years, to 2011, to see that, worldwide, Bebo had more users (117M) than Linkedin (115M) and even MySpace had 50M users. Now, for most people in business-related social media marketing, the big boys are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, with others being brought into play depending on your industry and audience demographics. Bebo and MySpace are but memories.


If you are a company owner, you’ll be wondering how on earth you can stop your employees frittering all this valuable time away.  I don’t think there is much you can do.  Surf the wave, don’t drown would be my advice.  However, perhaps you can take solace in the most recent UK government/Ofcom report on social media use, where they found “that the number of adults in the UK accessing social networks each week fell from 65% in September 2013 to just 56% in October 2014 … the biggest decline across the nine countries surveyed (as) users are concerning themselves more and more with privacy, and social media is now becoming part of every aspect of our lives”.


Note, this does not mean we need to go back to square one with our social strategies.  However, it does suggest that we need to be even more aware of the trends underlying the market (as Bebo and MySpace were not!).  Perhaps in a year from now, we’ll be using Snapchatted gifs created in Instagram, and Facebook will be past its peak (if it isn’t already?).  However, I’m afraid the chats around the water cooler will, even more than now, be conducted with mobile in hand and productivity could be even more diminished. Answers, on a (digital) postcard please…