Steven Raeburn, editor of legal magazine The Firm and prolific tweeter, muses on how he makes time for social media...
“How on Earth do you find the time to be on social media all day?”
I get asked that question almost every day. And every time by someone who is either a complete novitiate to social media, or a happily affirmed luddite.
Well, perhaps it’s a good question, although those of us who have embraced social media from the start already know, it is also a ridiculous one. Perhaps it's better to look at time in a slightly different way.
Thirty years ago, every office or professional environment had no computers, unless perhaps you worked at NASA. But a recognisable PC that is now ubiquitous on every professional desk didn’t start to make its appearance until the mid 90s. There was no email of course, and no desktop internet access, not even a fax machine. And of course there were no mobile phones. At all. Not even the comedy brick ones we like to laugh about, which didn’t appear until the very late 80s.
What else wasn’t there? Fewer women, for one thing. No flexible working hours or working from home. Fewer cars. No budget air travel nor the ability to flit between cities with ease. No international direct dialling.
Yet, people were not idle. They worked all day. And many of the companies that existed 30 years ago are still around today.
So what does this have to do with finding time to be on social media all day?
The answer to both of course is that I don’t "find time" to be on social media all day, any more than I find time to use email, be online, make phone calls or have a cup of tea. It's just something I do as part of my working day.
Obvious enough, but not to an affirmed luddite or a total novitiate, still grappling with the fast moving social media concept.
For those that have yet to embrace social media, this is one of the great fears; that it will become a time vampire, draining valuable minutes and hours from an otherwise productive, capable workforce. This us not true of course, any more than mobile phones, desktop internet or email does. But this simple truth remains unknown, hidden behind the impenetrable psychological veil that prevents them inquiring about and embracing the social media landscape.
They’ll get there of course. Sooner or later. The technology and platforms are here and are only going to evolve, not go away. Those in the established professions, such as accountants, lawyers and financiers - who remain collectively the slowest to embrace the new media - who don’t get a grip soon will find that everyone else they want to do business with is using different tools. And there can’t be many things worse for business than being demonstrably unable to communicate with your clients, your peers, institutions and of course, the rest of the world you have not yet met, all of whom are talking amongst themselves whether you are at the party or not. And of course who will make up your next tranche of clients over the next 12 months.
Last week I addressed a group of legal professionals at the Royal Faculty of Procurators. The audience were a mixed bag of experience and familiarity with social media, but they all left with the certain knowledge that the business world had a clear direction of travel. Some of them were acutely and painfully aware that it was travelling away from them, taking their revenue stream with it. Where do I find the time to be part of that? Where will they find the time?
The answer is, it’s the same time I use every day to spend with clients, colleagues, on the phone, accessing emails, looking at a computer screen and working. My normal working hours. Social media time is not set aside and its not an add-on. Its just another thing I do.
And no, it is not too late to get on board.
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