Miriam Kramer, the popular author at one of the world’s most popular news websites Mashable, gave a precious piece of advice to the world this earlier this year, urging smartphone users to delete the Facebook app from their phones.
Miriam pointed out that the mindless scrolling through the random updates posted by her mom’s friends and the people whom she hasn’t spoken to in real life for years has been a liberating experience for her. Besides, she also pointed out that without it, her time spent commuting, for example, is no longer hijacked by political fights – and after a month, she didn’t even feel the need to dive deep inside the entrails of the blue giant once.
The fact is, the average internet user spends way too much time on social media today.
Even with Facebook’s and Instagram’s time management tools that show people how much of their precious time they really waste on mindlessly absorbing the updates of various people and companies through social media, the time spent on it is still on the rise. As online measurement service SimilarWeb pointed out this summer, people spend on average more than 50 minutes browsing Instagram or Facebook on their phones – and this means that half of them spend more. The time spent on either of these social networks has increased since the summer of 2017 – from 50 to 58 minutes on Facebook and from 28 to 53 minutes on Instagram.
Social media has been shown to be a true “productivity killer” years ago when its usage times were nowhere near today’s levels. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland in 2014 has shown that almost 20% of the users couldn’t go more than “a few hours” without taking a peek on their Facebook feed. Estimates at the time have spoken of at least a quarter of the average American’s workday spent on social media with non-work-related activities – this, of course, translates into a time not spent working that cost the companies about $35 million a year at the time.
But work morale is not the only thing being gnawed by social media. As recent research has proven, social networks are also a strong factor in influencing our spending habits. It has a lot to do with the envy felt by the average social network user when seeing how great their peers are doing (although the updates posted by these peers are strongly curated, a fact well-known by anyone with a Facebook or Instagram account) and the ever-more-accentuated fear of missing out these updates induce. Some go as far as to say that these updates are as strong a driving force behind many users’ acquisitions as the ads shown by the social networks themselves.
Social media is a great tool for businesses to reach out to their potential customers and keep in contact with their fans. It is, in turn, also a force that makes its presence felt by entrepreneurs and companies both at a personal and professional level.