I was recently a guest speaker at a business management class at Concordia University here in Portland. I was asked to talk about social media and why businesses should care. I threw out all the dazzling facts like if Facebook were a country it would be the fourth largest in the world with its 300 million users and that Twitter’s growth from 2008 to 2009 exceeded 1,300%…some folks were shocked and felt like they’d already missed the boat.
But there was one woman who sat and listened and as the ideas settled in she tentatively raised her hand to ask a simple question: Who has all this time to be on Facebook or Twitter or anything?
It’s an interesting question and it caused me to pause for a moment. I am a busy fella with a three-year-old boy at home who does his best to fill up any “free” time daddy might still have. But I still find time to Tweet links and write blog posts and check in with friends and family around the world via Facebook. What I don’t do anymore is have long phone calls with folks back in Chicago nor do I sift through magazines looking for work-related articles. It’s not that I have more time, it’s that I have shifted where and how I am spending that time. And it seems I am not alone.
MediaPost news reports: World Spending 82% More Time On Social Sites
Internet users worldwide spent an average of 5 and half hours on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter in December, an 82% increase from a year ago.
Now, it’s not like everyone’s lives suddenly got a lot simpler and we all have loads of free time on our hands. What we do have is the ability for small interactions with each other. Instead of a 90 minute Sunday call home, I can check in with my sister in Michigan throughout the day and see what she and her kids are up to. I can see that my old colleagues in Chicago have a presentation coming up. I can see that my friend in Rome is baffled by the America political climate. It’s theses little bits of casual small-talk that you used to only have when in close proximity that have shifted my time away from longer, but potentially less meaningful, conversations and into a deeper engagement in smaller bites. I can almost always find time for that.