I have a theory that there are “Twitter People” and “Facebook People.”
I haven’t quite figured out what the personality difference is, but there definitely seems to be something there.
Other social media are useful too, but let’s face it, it mostly comes down to Facebook and Twitter for communication purposes. Are we using them effectively for communication though? Or have they become an addiction?
From a neuroscience perspective, the way we react to social media engagement is similar to how we are affected by other cravings, such as for food or sex. The reward centers of the brain are often stimulated by the way people respond to our posts and photos; the nucleus accubens within the brain is affected when we experience something pleasurable, and social feedback is no exception. But when so much of this pleasurable feedback is within the immediacy of Facebook, it can result in social media overload.
A few things to consider:
1. Do you find that you become anxious if you don’t have access to your social media (via smartphone, etc. if you are out)?
If you use social media for business and social purposes, chances are you are on it a lot. Since I do social media marketing as well as for my own personal use, I set boundaries for myself as to “Facebook-free” times and unplugged times in order to keep some balance. If checking Facebook, Twitter or even email becomes a source of anxiety and need, it’s worth setting some time limits for yourself.
2. Do you check Facebook (or other social media) while you are interacting with someone else in person?
Not to mention it being extremely rude, this would be a good sign that it’s time to set some better boundaries with your use. Think of it this way: most of us wouldn’t continuously take phone call after phone call while sitting and talking with a friend. We should view texting and Facebook in a similar way.
3. Are you using your time on Facebook efficiently during the workday?
Facebook messaging is helpful, as is Skype chat, for people working remotely; scrolling through the timeline and getting sidetracked by random stories on Buzzfeed is not. It you use social media for part of your work, it’s worth your while to schedule that time into your day proactively, and keep it separate from your personal social media use. It will help keep some boundaries, and also keep you from feeling like you are always connected. They are wonderful tools — especially for small business people and people who work from home — but feeling connected to Facebook 24-7 is not necessary or healthy to use these tools. Think of it this way, if you were a chef, you would still cook for yourself at home, but the intention is completely different.
4. Is your social media use authentic as well as professional?
In a recent podcast, I discuss this issue with a colleague: how do we find the balance between authenticity and professionalism? To me, even if you scrap the other three questions, this consideration is huge. Whether or not you proactively use social media as part of your job, presenting yourself professionally is always important. If you wouldn’t show up to the office half-naked and drunk, don’t post pictures of yourself that way on Facebook either. On the flip side of the equation, are you being authentic? If your Facebook feed is solely PR for whatever projects you are working on, it stops feeling like there is a person behind it. You have a voice — use it.
We can use these tools for business and personal connection most effectively when we are making healthy choices about how and when to use them.
Photo credit: Flickr / Garrett Heath