What if you stopped tweeting and dropped Facebook?

Posted by Brad on December 10th, 2010

What if you stopped tweeting and dropped Facebook?

My last two tweets were Oct 12 and Oct 20. I was not a huge Twitter emitter before that, but I did tweet every day or two during the previous couple months. My last blog post was Oct 6. The last time I spoke publicly was a panel session on October 20. I also have been off TweetDeck and Facebook for most of October, November and December. Clearly, I have not been doing much outbound communication or monitoring what others are saying. This brings up two interesting questions:

1. Why the falloff in my social media involvement?
2. What impact has opting out of social media had on my business and personal brand?

1) The falloff is easy to explain. One of the hats I wear is CEO of BPG Motors and the other is running an early-stage consulting practice, Harkador Partners. BPG has been in serious crunch mode and what was designed to be a part-time job has been consuming many hours. Maintaining my consulting practice beyond BPG and also seeing my family occasionally during this period has left virtually no time to blog and tweet.

2) As for the impact, there are pros and cons. At BPG Motors, we are in heavy-duty development mode at the moment, which means we are not seeking customer feedback and are not yet focused on building our brand. Did BPG suffer? Yes and No, because right now BPG needs to be laser focused on product development. However, one area that may have suffered is building excitement with our investors. Ultimately, a stellar product trumps early promotion. BPG is focused on finishing the prototype and I expect made the right tradeoff between promotion and product development.

My consulting business, Harkador Partners, however, has several objective indicators that my decreased social media presence has negatively impacted my business; specifically, a decrease in existing business and potential new business. During this time period, my billable hours went down, and, more concerning, visits to my website have been off dramatically, down 25% in November as compared to October. Website visitors are a leading indicator of potential new business.

My social media activity does not operate in a vacuum. Online activity should be blended with other brand building opportunities. While I don’t have the precise data, website activity spikes for Harkador Partners and BPG Motors in conjunction with my blog posts and public speaking engagements, like the panel session I sat on in October.

Getting a viable prototype for the U3 for BPG has been my top priority for the past several weeks (and many months before that), but at the same time I lowered my online presence. Decreasing my online visibility has diminished incoming leads. So, while I continue to focus on BPG, my personal numbers speak for themselves. Social media needs to be maintained. To ensure ongoing and future opportunities for Harkador Partners and BPG, it is essential to carve out regular and consistent time to both maintain and enhance my online brand.

What do you think? What is your personal ROI on the time you spend on Twitter, Facebook, Buzz and the like? Is it just a distraction or time well spent?

  • http://wwww.hotcareers.com Ruth Glover

    As a recruiter of tech engineers for semiconductor and telecom companies, I’d be “dead” if I wasn’t online with social media and other internet resources. However, the phone is still my best friend as electronics is…well, electronics! I must talk with people and cannot simply stay online!

    I was curious about your article. Nice!

    Regards,
    Ruth Glover
    CAREER CONSULTATIONS
    http://www.hotcareers.com

    Regard

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  • http://twitter.com/bartel Bartel Scheers

    For me it’s a time well spent — if balanced. I’m pretty sure I’d have missed some important new business if I’d neglected my online presence. However, like you suggest yourself, it’s time consuming and sometimes ‘other things’ non-related to social media need focus too.

    It’s this balance I find the hardest to indicate, not the least because I’ve found people to also ‘perceive’ me by the actuality of my online presence. Saying you on par with twitter, but your last tweet dates 3 months back is not convincing; saying you blog and your weblog is outdated even worse. ‘Presence’ seems to become — to a certain degree — more important than ‘Performance’, which for me leads again to the time vs effort vs profit question.

    Good post anyway, and interesting topic imo..

    • Anonymous

      Bartel,

      I think your point is a good one. My approach when I am active with twitter
      and/or blogging is quality over quantity. You get may get lost in the fire
      hose of high velocity tweeters, but you also have the opportunity to gain
      mind share if you really have something to say.

      So if you only tweet occasionally does anyone hear you ?

      Brad

  • Marsh Sutherland

    I will always be on social media. As President and Co-Founder of SocialGrow, I put myself out to the world as an expert on the benefits of social media. I need to be well-versed and well-exercised in various social media to know more than the person asking me questions.

    I also find Facebook absolutely critical to my sanity as well. Since I work for myself by myself, I can turn on the social interaction a few times a day and engage with my friends. Since I don’t have office co-workers and don’t have to worry about office politics, I can readily be myself on Facebook. No, I do not friend co-workers or professsional acquaintances on my personal Facebook profile. It’s my personal space and we all need that.

    Our SocialGrow CMO Ken Herron continues to build brand awareness of our company http://twitter.com/SocialGrow now with 34K followers. We should launch beta one of these days and see what kind of spike happens when we begin actively marketing the application.

    So I will see your face at events again Brad?

    Marsh Sutherland
    President | Co-Founder
    SocialGrow Inc.
    (888) SOC GROW Ext 1
    (888) 762-4769 Ext 1
    marsh.sutherland@socialgrow.com
    @MarshSutherland | @SocialGrow

    • Anonymous

      Marsh,

      Like the phoenix, I will return. :) .

      Do you have the discipline to only turn to facebook a few times a day? I
      feel like when I am on it, it can, like email, consume a ton of time.

      Brad

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    • Brad

      Bartel,
      Thanks for the re-posting.
      Brad

  • http://www.caycon.com Akira Hirai

    I suspect that we’ll soon cross the threshold where the question of “what if you stopped social networking” is tantamount to “what if you stopped accounting” or “what if you stopped research and development.” Businesses that do not invest wisely in social media risk being left behind.

    Akira Hirai
    Cayenne Consulting
    http://www.caycon.com

  • http://twitter.com/candres candres

    I consider social media broadcasting (blogs, tweets, comments) as “awareness advertising”. It is necessary to stay ‘top of mind’ to trigger business connections. If you don’t communicate, you are forgotten. Hacking the spew and a thousand daily distractions are morphing us into “21st Century Schizoid humans” (King Crimson was right). Oops. Time’s up. Back to product development.

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  • http://twitter.com/theboynton Matt Boynton

    I know some people who are rapidly growing their cutting-edge businesses without using social media at all, while other companies obviously drive a lot of good leads from it and commit a lot of resources to building their brand on SM. I think it depends on your audience – sometimes handshakes and phone calls or even participating in old-school forums may be more valuable in terms of reaching out to your target market than tweeting, and your lack of social networking for business may go unnoticed. It depends on where the people you want to reach out to are hanging out and what they do there. I also think some businesses focus all their time on building up their twitter and FB presence just because they see a bunch of other people doing it, when it isn’t necessarily the best way to be reaching out to their market.

  • Alan

    Very interesting to hear from someone who’s business is not social media write on this. I’m tired of social media consultants talking about how we all should be doing all kinds of this because when they do it they are also practicing their business. Unlike myself and you apparently, the social media takes time from your business. It’s displacing something else. Matt’s comment below seems on the mark. It probably depends most on who your target customers are and where they are at. I’d like to hear from more non-social media business practitioners talk about the tradeoff between the value they get and the opportunity cost.

    • http://www.harkador.com brad harkavy

      Alan,

      Thanks for the comments.

      In the interest of social media, I am curious how you made your way to my blog a month later then most of the traffic.

      Brad

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