They’re the ones who post about every insignificant detail of their life.
They’re always inviting you to join them in the latest social game – Farmville, Bejeweled Blitz, Mafia Wars – until finally you block them.
They get the shakes when they can’t check Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and whatever else they may be using.
Social media may actually be altering our brains. Recent studies show too much time online could even be making you more stupider! All jokes aside, researchers have begun seriously studying internet addiction and its effects.
The scary thing is – this addiction could be even worse for those of us who spend our day marketing on social media networks. Being hooked can absolutely destroy your productivity.
Social media addicts catch a little high whenever they take a hit of Facebook or Twitter.
It actually releases dopamine in the rewards center of your brain. You get a notification of a new Like, comment, retweet or whatever – and you have to check it. An infographic on Social Media Today explains that the promise or opportunity behind the notification “recharges our addictive compulsion.”
This chemical reaction in your brain is similar to what crack, heroin and meth addicts experience. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to “Just Say No” to your Facebook notifications.
What’s more surprising is, among apparent online addicts, the areas of the brain used for functions like speech, memory, motor skills and emotion are 10 to 20% smaller than normal.
Now some of these findings bring up a classic “chicken or the egg” situation. Is there actually atrophy in the brains of those who overuse the internet, or is it that people who overuse the internet tend to be less intelligent in the first place?
Experts admit there is still a lot of research needed in this area. Yet the American Psychiatric Association could classify so-called Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) and/or Internet Use Disorder (IUD) as a real mental health disorder as early 2013. Several Asian nations, including China, have already done so.
Social Media Addiction is Even More Dangerous for Online Marketers
Whether you’re doing your own social media marketing, or you have employees posting to social networks for you – this addiction is an issue you don’t want to ignore.
That’s because it is a huge productivity killer.
You may hear some people say they avoid social media because it sucks away too much of their time.
But how much time does it take to post something to a few social networks a couple times a day? How tough is it to respond to a few comments? Does it really take a ton of time to copy and paste a link so you can share it with your audience? No, not really…
What eats up time is the constant checking.
My Name is Kasey… and I’m a Social Media-aholic (Hi Kasey)
Listen, I deal with this too. And I know lots of other online marketing folks with the same issue.
I will create content, share ideas and promote your company – then I just can’t wait to see how people respond. I find myself going back to check every 15 minutes.
I know I’m not alone here. We obsess over the feedback. We get depressed when the response doesn’t live up to our expectations.
All that social media checking is interrupting your day. Every time you stop what you’re doing to see who Liked your latest post, you bring your momentum to a screeching halt. It’s going to take time to get going again when you return to what you’d been working on.
What’s worse – when your posting for work – you start noticing notifications on your personal account. Then you just can’t help checking those either. Before you know it, you’re liking baby pictures and LOLCats when you should be getting stuff done.
In my opinion, this problem can extend beyond social media. The same thing happens with your website analytics. We get hooked on checking traffic stats and conversion rates, when we know that barely anything has changed. It’s like we’re just hoping to get surprised by something different.
How do We Deal With Our Social Media Addiction?
Unfortunately, none of us can head to rehab for our addiction to social media. We have to do it on our own.
If it’s part of your job, you can’t just quit cold turkey either. An article in Forbes magazine compares IAD to food addictions…
“How to treat internet addiction is then the next question. One might suspect that treatment won’t be straightforward, since most of us have to use the internet at some level (or even a lot) throughout the day. In this way, it’s a bit like food addiction, which they say is the hardest to treat, since you can’t just quit the substance, you have to actually learn how to manage it. And for many people, managing is harder than quitting.”
If social media is affecting your work, or even your life by eating up time you could be spending on more important things, start by weaning yourself off of it.
It may help to set a social media schedule. Pick certain times of day that you will post to social networks, and certain times of day you will check up on them. Taking time to respond to comments and questions from customers is important. Constantly checking to see if your follower count has changed is not.
I think if you were to compare social media to a certain kind of drug – it would be more like prescription pills than dangerous illegal narcotics.
There are medications that can help people and serve a purpose – just like social media. But overuse and abuse can have the same damaging effect as street drugs.
Start thinking of social media differently. It’s tool that connects you with customers and people in your life. It is not your actual life!
Kasey Steinbrinck is a co-founder of Copyjuice specializing in copywriting and content marketing. Contact him for a little help making your copy more effective. He’s also on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Quora, Digg, StumbleUpon, Google+, Pinterest and yes…even Myspace.