For at least a full month, I made a conscious decision to cease all social networking.
I was busy trying to build a product, but I also learned some things about how and what I was social networking about. I learned some nifty things about what I missed, and what I should not miss doing on social networking.
Lesson 1: Fifty Percent of Social Networking is Complaining
I know. You probably could stick your hand in a jar and randomly grab a PhoneNews.com article… and declare it some form of bitching/whining/complaining. But that, for the most part, is with purpose.
I found in my month off of social networking, that I used social networking to complain about stuff that (unlike PhoneNews.com articles) were insignificant. Yes, 1saleaday took 21 days to deliver my item. People aren’t going to stop shopping there as a result of my tweet pointing out their bad business practices. Same goes for you, regardless of if you have one follower or a million.
So, lesson learned. Complain less, talk about more important stuff.
Lesson 2: I was more productive by not constantly posting.
Short, but sweet. Posting takes up a lot of time. Even in “down time” – odds are you could be doing something more productive… jotting down Evernotes, balancing your checkbook, reading a book on your Kindle. Even if you have a million twitter followers, and assuming you do, you can go roar the engine on that supercar in the time it takes to post a tweet.
Lesson 3: I didn’t benefit much from constantly socially networking.
Many tweets does not correlate to many followers or higher social standing. That’s not to say I really care, but I found I was making many more contacts offline, which actually turned into profits down the line.
Lesson 4: Social networking does matter for businesses, most people don’t matter.
People today are using social networking as a poor-man’s (sorry, that’s not PC… let’s try low-information consumer’s) form of RSS.
Technically-inclined people still use RSS, despite the efforts of Apple and Google to minimize the technology. RSS has vanished from OS X Core, OS X Mail, OS X Safari, and Windows Safari. Google, despite having the world’s most-used feed reader (Google Reader) has no native RSS support inside of Chrome. In fact, when you click on an RSS feed, you either get gibberish, or a prompt to install a Chrome Extension.
Chrome has Gmail support. Chrome has Google Calendar support. Chrome acts as if Google Reader doesn’t exist… unless you already use it and seek it out.
Why is this? Companies can’t profit from RSS. Ads on RSS don’t work. Google just killed a multi-million dollar acquisition (FeedBurner) because RSS ads were so full of fail.
Ironically, Microsoft is the one that has stayed the course with in-browser and in-OS support for RSS. Internet Explorer 10, Windows 8, and Windows RT all support RSS. Heck, KIN even had a native RSS reader… not that anyone ever got a chance to use it atop the ridiculous data plan pricing.
So, the app economy, and the tech sector as a whole, feels they have a better chance of making money off of you if you don’t use RSS. Hence, they want you to “follow” companies on social networking instead.
Lesson 5: I was faster at getting work done by following Lesson 4
By choosing to ignore the app economy, and utilize RSS effectively, I got my work done faster following the tech sites, companies, and services that matter via RSS.
Hence, RSS matters more than social networking, for people smart enough to use it. That’s a pretty stunning lesson on its own, considering that social networking is so hyper-valued as a multi-billion dollar industry.
Imagine if someone found a way to properly monetize RSS? Imagine if (low-information) consumers started attaching to it and defecting from social networking. If I were on the Google+ or Facebook teams, I’d be trying to figure out how to beat the other to this punch. And, if I wasn’t busy on a startup, I’d be busy working on this.
Lesson 6: Focus on innovating, not tweeting
This one, thankfully I knew already, and didn’t waste the past year or two on creating eight thousand phony followers, fifty to seventy-five percent of which don’t read your tweets… ever… but the above lessons were worth the month-long experiment on their own.
Lesson 7: It’s time for a new theme on my blog
Okay, this one’s just for me. I hacked together this theme on a weekend to show how easy it was to create an iOS-like appearance on the fly. But, as iOS even moves away from iOS’s UX, it’s time to draft up something new.