Anti- social media, could social media not become 24 hours in the quest for a work life balance?

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Social media is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

In 2015, of 7.21 billion of the total population 3.01 billion were online and 2.078 billion had active social media accounts*. With this exponential rise in people being online and as a ‘global consumer phenomenon’ as a person and as a business you cannot afford to be social. With this much leverage, businesses have had to harness the power that is social media. Customers want instant responses to questions from businesses which even 20 years ago would have been impossible over the phone or by post.  How damaging is our expectation on instant responses on ourselves?

The work- life balance is changing- it is less 9.00- 5.00 with 2.4 hours on average spent on social media with the never ending pings and beeps from our phones. Millennials expect and demand more from social media, as phones and internet connections have advanced this means that there isn’t an excuse for not being connected. A study by Psychology Scotland found that out of 235 respondents 94% checked their work messages first thing in the morning, 89% checked them in the evening and 82% checked them on their days off.  The same study also found that people constantly being connected felt that they were better employers as they were more dedicated to their role. Social media is that addictive it became an officially recognised condition in 2013.

24 hours a day social media definitely benefits both businesses. The instant gratification social media can give to a person through someone liking their status or commenting on a post has translated to business by customers tweeting or commenting wanting to get an answer in real time. This benefits the customer by showing that the company values and cares about their opinion and gives the business the opportunity to turn negative feedback and complaints into positives by solving or asking the customer their opinion on improvements. This humanises the brand which in turn translates customers into brand ambassadors.

Due to this however, I make the case that large businesses receive more of the benefits of being social than smaller businesses. The rise of platforms such as Etsy, Depop and eBAY has given smaller businesses and ad hoc sellers a global platform on little to no budget. However the day-to-day in running several social media sites and the increasing standard these sites need to portray causes additional pressure for staff to be constantly on social media as well as their day job or if social media is there day job to be constantly answering questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, as people often misjudge how long it can take to answer a question on social media (ringing up different departments or getting a very specific answer can take a very long time).  Larger companies can afford to have dedicated teams planning, monitoring and commenting on posts across a variety of platforms, something which is harder or not even possible for those on small budgets or have social media as part of their role.

So what is the solution? 
It is clear that social media for businesses will not become 9-5 anytime soon. However there are ways to avoid becoming burned out by it all. If you’re a business owner focusing on the platforms you think will best advertise your business rather than every single social media platform will decrease the workload and the work that is done will be focused on the right audience . Being clear on your social media platforms what time questions can be answered (E.G Monday to Saturday 9am- 5pm) mean people will understand if they ask a question at 6pm they will have to wait until the next day to receive an answer, using social media management software such as Hootsuite to schedule posts will save time. Finally, turn your work phone or work related notifications off away from work.      

Figures taken from we are social.com

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