56% Of Time Spent On Social Is Wasted

Respondents to my one question survey report that 56% of the time they spend on social is wasted. 

While hardly scientific, this result gives credence to the views I expressed at Le Web that we are heading into a Post Social (POSO) period. In POSO, a new wave of social tools will emerge that are: easier to use, more filtered, more efficient, more private, faster, and offer a better value/time proposition.
We are nearing a "Pets.com" moment with social, in which some of the original tools are discarded and a new class arrives that wastes less time and generates greater benefits for the users. They won't be dorm room hacks on steroids -- they will be architected for the more sophisticated and demanding consumers of the POSO period using modern tools like HTML 5 or App Internet. Some will leverage the network effect of first-generation systems like Facebook (the European Union is considering requiring Facebook to offer an "export data" feature) while others will be content to trade off network size for exclusivity and relevancy. A social aggregator (Flipboard version 4?) will be perfectly positioned in the POSO era.
More on all of this in a later post. But for now, let it be said that social as currently constituted has a problem -- its users believe that half of their time with the medium is wasted.


True insight, but how much other activity is wasted?

I believe the column's premise is true about POSO - it's in line with the natural evolution of technology, some of which adds value. But I'm curious about how we're defining "waste" in this instance. Is it a waste because it's a non-productive diversion (yeah, it was fun, but now I'm really behind on work) or because there was no value derived whatsoever (I didn't have any fun and I didn't learn anything worth knowing)?

What is "waste?"

As you may note, we didn't define the term waste in the survey question -- we let the respondent interpret it for themselves...

Hi George Could this be

Hi George

Could this be because your respondents see phatic* communication as 'time-wasting', without realising its importance in establishing context, empathy, authenticity etc etc

*the dictionary fell open on that page


More "user" problem than "use"

I wonder how much of this so-called "waste" is due to unnecessary, inadequate or suboptimal social "tools" vs. inexperienced or unsophisticated social users. I would bet this number would peak when we hit the crest of social adoption, and then gradually but continually decline as users became more thoughtful and deliberate in their use of social tools. That being said, you are likely correct in your belief that most of these social-victims will expect social constructs to solve this alleged problem for them.

Why is this a surprise?

56% actually seems a little low to me. What percentage of TV programs do we watch that we could say were a waste of time or at least immediately forgettable, 70%? 80%?. Same with music, books, film (actually most hollywood films at the moment are a complete waste of time). Why would we expect social media to be any different? In fact because of the openness of the medium and the absence of pre filtering I'd expect 90% or more of the time spent trawing social media to be a waste of time.

But calling it a waste of time kind of misses the point about social.


Hello George, thank you for

Hello George, thank you for the article, I enjoyed it. I tend to agree with Peter’s comment above that the number actually seems a little low considering the amount of time the average person seems to browse social media without really connecting in any utility-generating way. My company, Seilevel (www.seilevel.com) has recently been writing requirements for a company that wants social media connectivity integrated throughout its website. It is positive to note that so many view social media in such a positive, or at least not negative, light. I’ll say this is a glass half full verses a glass half empty approach. In any case thank you again,


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