Friday, July 7, 2017

Social Media: Costs and Benefits

A few weeks ago, Stephen Bainbridge asked about the benefits of the social media site LinkedIN. His question caused me to revisit the costs/benefits of social media. Below I reflect on the social media websites I use.

With so many professors getting in trouble on social media - see, e.g., here, here, here, here, and here - it may make sense to ask if any of the websites are worth the risk. As long as you are wise when you post, and assume a post will be seen in the worst possible light, I think social media can be worth using. 

Facebook. 

  • Benefits. Facebook has a broader network of people than any of the other social media sites I use. My parents are on Facebook, as is my wife's grandmother and great aunt, as are my peers, as are my much younger cousins. Facebook also has a wide range of user generated content -- photos, links, short & long posts, groups, etc. The "Friends in ___ City" feature has allowed me to catch up with old acquaintances when traveling for conferences or family trips. Just a few weeks ago, I visited with two of my old coaches for the first time since high school. Neither of their e-mails were online, and I have only kept up with them via Facebook. 
  • Costs. For me, Facebook is the biggest time waster among the various social media sites. Recently, I deactivated my Facebook account for the time being. I will probably be back at some point. The benefits of Facebook could probably be achieved in about 30 minutes a week, but until I learn to limit my use to around that amount of time, I will likely continue to deactivate for periods of time to cut back usage.
  • Use for Work. I don’t allow current students to “friend” me, given the more personal nature of Facebook, but I have allowed alums to connect, which has been rewarding. I follow my university and my alma maters on Facebook. I am Facebook friends with a handful of professional contacts.

Twitter.

  • Benefits. I have kept Twitter almost entirely professional; I rarely tweet about my family or my personal hobbies. As such, for me, the benefits of Twitter are captured in the "Use for Work" section below.
  • Costs. Twitter can also eat time, though unlike Facebook,  I am rarely tempted to spend long amounts of time on Twitter. Twitter doesn't allow for very nuanced debate and your posts can be taken the wrong way. Professor Eric Posner recently posted some harsh comments about Twitter; his comments have a kernel of truth. That said, I do think he is overly negative. For example, I think Twitter can actually be better than newspapers for some information. With Twitter you get the news directly from the source, and the news reaches you more quickly and with fewer words. Also, newspapers are unlikely to cover niche topics, like the latest happenings in social enterprise law. 
  • Use for Work. I maintain two hashtags - #MGT2410 and #MGT6940 – for news tweets related to my two primary courses. I allow current students to follow me, though I do not require it nor do I post anything necessary for my classes. I follow mostly professional contacts and professional organizations on Twitter. Given the accounts that I follow, Twitter can be a relatively good place to get quick news. Finally, I have found that a number of C-level executives, lawyers, and well-known academics are easier to engage via Twitter than any other medium.

LinkedIN.

  • Benefits. In thinking about Steven Bainbridge’s question about LinkedIN, I had a difficult time thinking of many significant benefits. I see LinkedIN as a place to connect with professional contacts that you want to share less information than you share on Facebook. I rarely log into LinkedIN, but I haven’t deleted my account either, as the costs of being on the website are incredibly low. 
  • Costs. LinkedIN takes the least amount of my time among the various social media sites. I spend 0 to 30 minutes on LinkedIN most months. There does appear to be a fair bit of spam in the various work groups I have joined, but it is pretty easy to ignore by unsubscribing to group e-mail updates. 
  • Use for Work. LinkedIN seems to be my MBA students' preferred method of connecting, and the site is worthwhile just to stay connected to them. I belong to a number of work related LinkedIN groups, but, as mentioned, most have been overtaken by spammers, so I almost never read the shared content. 

Strava.

  • Benefits. Strava is a social media website for runners, cyclists, and swimmers. For me, Strava’s main purpose is as an online place to log my runs without annoying my friends on other social media websites. On Strava, I only have about 30 friends, all of whom are committed to fitness. The website is an incredibly good accountability tool, as those friends can see if you have been slacking for a few days, and some of them will even call you out. It is also nice to have a few people notice when you have a good race or workout. You can also borrow workout ideas from posts. 
  • Costs. I don't love that people can tell when you are out of town, based on the location of your runs, but with only 30 friends and the privacy settings set tight as to other users, this isn't a huge issue. Strava doesn't take much time. The routes automatically upload from my Garmin and the newsfeed isn't designed to keep you engaged with it. 
  • Use for Work. I don't really use Strava for work other than staying in touch with a couple attorney runner friends. 

Instagram, Pinterest, Etc. I never got into Instagram, Pinterest, or any other social media websites. Instagram does seem to be quite popular among my somewhat younger friends and students, but it also appears to be a giant time waster, so I am glad I never got hooked.

Feel free to share any comments or additional thoughts. 

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/business_law/2017/07/social-media-costs-and-benefits.html

Business School, Current Affairs, Haskell Murray, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink

Comments

Although I am ill-equipped to counsel the academy on the use of social media, I will comment on knee-jerk comments and my approach. I neither “tweet,” Facebook or Instagram. Watching the early rumbling and repercussions of the preceding on judges and practitioners, I have steered clear of all but LinkedIn.

My wife enjoys Instagram as a method of following close friends and their families. Many evenings she sits with her I-Pad and shares pictures and postings of the day in lieu of the “boob tube.”

I would state that failure to ruminate on an idea or reaction to events and contemplate the manner in which such commentary will be considered is unwise. My attitude with social media postings is that the contributor should consider from the outset that any comments made could easily end up on The Drudge Report - - as many do.

I have found LinkedIn to be a valuable networking and educational tool. Joining groups that are directly applicable to my practice areas is very beneficial where information and resources regarding those practice areas is pooled. It is also an opportunity to “trial balloon” ideas and engage colleagues to contribute commentary and criticism. I have been able to develop personal relationships (having had the opportunity to meet these practitioners in-person subsequent to LinkedIn introductions) that have benefitted me professionally in some considerable manner.

Like any other tool, one should be aware of the potential downsides to proliferation.

Posted by: Tom N | Jul 7, 2017 3:52:56 PM

Strava's default settings are full public disclosure. Not just to your "friends" but to everyone. I know folks who don't want their clients/bosses/etc. knowing that they're running at lunch time instead of working on a client matter, etc.

Posted by: Matthew Bruckner | Jul 13, 2017 6:58:26 PM

Right, Matthew, but you can change the privacy settings, as I have.

Posted by: Haskell Murray | Jul 14, 2017 3:09:46 AM

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