Surviving and Thriving in the Age of Social Media, part 1

Over the past 15 years, Social Media has evolved from a novel way to stay in touch with friends and family into a juggernaut that has changed the landscape of marketing for everyone from Fortune 500 companies down to your local owned coffee house. 

In the pre-Social Media age, marketing was a matter of large budgets, expensive ad buys and, frankly, was only regularly affordable by the larger and more established companies in our communities and countries. 

Today, thanks to Social Media, marketing has become a DIY affair with multiple platforms, massive reach, and user experiences designed to create addiction-like draws back to the social media platform in question. 

It follows naturally that any small business (any business, really) should be concerned about their use of social media platforms to promote their business and interact with their customers. It’s highly likely that better than 70% of all of small businesses customers have and interact with multiple social media accounts on a regular basis. 

Indeed, for many small business owners and managers, social media will inevitably become their primary source of marketing. 

However, there is a dark side to the social media apparatus. 

Probably the most insidious thing about social media is that, because of its tendency to create an addiction-like draw to its services, social media disrupts deep focus and deep work. 

Business owners and managers should be engaging in regular sessions of deeply focused work centered around their business, how to grow it, how to solve its problems, how to create a better environment for their customers and employees, etc… 

It’s difficult enough to get that kind of time away from the daily minutiae of running a business but, when you introduce the siren song of social media, it can become almost impossible to find 10, 15, or even 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to do deep, focused work.

This problem leads naturally to another issue, time management

As Shawn Blanc calls them, the “just checks” of social media (and email, for that matter) add up throughout the day. Five to ten minutes here and there can quickly become one or even multiple hours of your day staring at the glowing rectangle, hours you aren’t spending getting work done or spending with your friends and family. 

Finally, a small business owner or manager’s responsibilities include not only the daily tasks of running the business, but also a large amount of creative work. 

This work isn’t necessarily visual art or music, per se, but rather it’s the creative work of solving problems in and around your business. Or perhaps it’s the creative work of figuring out how to draw more customers into your business. 

Regardless, creativity is a major requirement of any small business owner or manager and social media is here to kill that creativity

That’s right, social media can hurt your creative brain. 

Social media (and the internet, really) make the entire world available to you at all times. In a sense, it replaces your creativity with an unending stream of stimuli from around the globe. 

It also creates multiple vectors for comparison with other people and businesses around you. This has the effect of sowing self-doubt and fostering creative paralysis. 

It’s essential, as a business owner or manager, that you protect your creative brain from interference and take steps to guard that creativity from being siphoned off and atrophying due to non-use and stimuli replacement.

Today we’ve covered the ways in which social media can disrupt your work, your time management, and stifle your creativity. 

But take heart! All is not lost. 

There are ways to manage your personal and professional interactions with social media that will help you reap the rewards of these services without compromising your work ethic or your creative brain. 

Up next, we’ll have a look at a few of my preferred techniques and practices to survive and thrive in the age of social media.