Social Media at Work: How Much is Too Much?

Social Media at Work Dec 2013It amazes me how often this question arises among millennials:  How much time is too much for social media at work?

Social media is like having real friends.  If you spent your entire work day socializing in the break room or chatting on your phone… well, you would get fired.

So seriously, how much time is enough?  How much is too much?

It’s actually good to be friendly with the people you work with.  It’s also important to network, within your industry and within your profession.  I made a similar post recently about how to allocate your free time between family, social and alone time.  In that post, I talked about the percentages of time you should spend, depending on your stage of life.

Let’s do the same for your career stages.  There are three types of activities you do at work.  First, you work.  That involves doing the tasks that are required by your job description.  You move boxes or soothe callers or ring a cash register or drill for oil.  Whatever your job is, that’s “work time”.  Second, you network.  Networking involves friendly chats with people in your “sphere of work.”  That sphere includes the people on your team, the people in your company, the people at other companies in your industry, and the people in your profession (for example, if you’re a lawyer, you talk to other lawyers; if you’re a developer, you talk to other developers).  Third, you learn.  This means you read things about your job or your industry.  You talk to people who can help you understand the business.  You create reports or graphics or ideas just for the practice.  A lot of people call this “sharpening the saw” because it keeps your brain fresh and ready for the next thing.

  • First job – 60-20-20
  • Team member – 60-20-20
  • Team leader – 50-20-30
  • Manager – 40-20-40
  • Executive – 40-30-30
  • Senior executive – 30-40-30
  • New hire (first 30 days at any job) – 20-60-20

Social time at work is for networking.  That’s it.  Talk to people about work stuff.  Does that mean you shouldn’t talk to friends or loved ones during the business day?  No, of course you should talk to the people who are most important to you.  You need to check in to stay connected, to make plans for after work, to take care of life’s business (who’s picking up the kids, do we need a reservation for dinner, what time is your doctor’s appointment, hows your day).  Those things take time, but in the average work day, they are a blip.  They’re quick mental breaks that leave you feeling refreshed.

It shouldn’t be a big deal if some of those quick mental breaks take place on social media, right?  Welll…   Unless it’s LinkedIn or an industry forum that relates to your job, “purely social” media is a slippery slope.  Reading a couple of status updates is no big deal.  When you scroll to the second screen, you’re dancing on the edge.  On the third screen of updates, you’re starting to spend too much time.

There are plenty of people to talk to at work.  They are important to your career.  Spend your time with them and save Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, and F2F time with your F2F friends for after-five.



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