Last week, I started thinking long and hard about what webpages I interacted with and how I interacted with them. I realized that I waste a lot of time on the internet, and decided that I wanted this to change. I made it my goal to use social media to create something good, and not just to consume the unending flow of check-in’s, posts, and cat memes. Step one was learning to be quiet, to stop engaging with the nonsense, and so far I’ve done pretty good. Obviously I didn’t get it perfect, but on April 1st at 8:00am NDT I made my first steps. It’s an ongoing process. The second step, is to learn how to better use my internet time so that it has a positive impact on my life, and my work.
So now the question becomes, how am I going to change my internet usage? My initial thoughts were to implement a scorched earth policy - burn all my internet accounts to the ground so others may not have it, retreat, and then start over once the dust settled. But as I began to try and implement this I realized that it was nearly impossible. There is just too much fine detail hidden in the internet, and it’s too hard to find it all. I needed a different approach, and as it is with me, I stumbled upon the solution whilst doing something else.
Recently, I started studying stock market investing (because I’m cool like that), and in one series of lectures I was listening to on audiobook, a comment was made - “keep the winners, and cut the losers”. Now obviously they were referring to long term investment strategies for making money, but if we reframe the context of this adage we actually get a solid strategy. Instead of investing my money in the stock market, I am investing my energy in the internet. In both strategies, time is both a constant and a limited resource, so I am focusing on utilizing my energy strategically to get the most value out of the internet.
The foundation of this whole internet-destiny of mine revolves around using the internet to benefit me, and as a result, others. Though it may be selfish, I am looking for a positive return on my investment. So I have to start by doing an assessment of what parts of the internet I am investing my time and energy into, and what returns I am getting out of each site. The tools available via the internet for marketing, media, communication, etc. are inherently neither winners nor losers. How I use them makes them winners or losers.
In order to pick which winners to keep and which losers to cut, I started by establishing some guidelines for what made a site a winner or a loser, then kept a personal log of what sites I was visiting and my activities on those sites. I analyzed the results, and made my choices.
Establishing the guidelines was the hardest part; how do I determine what made something good or bad? At the end of the day, I tried to make the guidelines as simple as possible in order to make easier decisions on with webpages to keep and which to cut. Here is my list -
Does this site have a benefit to me?
Whatever site I am actively using has to benefit me in someway, otherwise there is no point to it. The benefit can come in many different forms, but it has to actually have some immediate or future benefit.
Is the time spent on the site productive?
Am I just sort of staring at a bunch of cat memes or am I actually contributing to a discussion that has value? Or is the site a reference site or has information and tools that I need to use?
Do I have control of what is put on the site?
Does the site let me post content? Can I put the content where I want? Are there ads and recommendations that slow the site down? Is it difficult to determine fixes and/or impossible to customize?
Am I interacting with an audience on the site?
Is it a site specifically for my use or is there an audience? What kind of audience are they and is it worth interacting with them?
Do my interactions benefit myself and/or the audience on that site?
Am I getting something from the audience? Are they getting something from me? Is there a benefit to interacting on this site? Is the audience reacting positively or negatively to the interactions?
Now the list of sites that I spend time on was pretty large once I started compiling it, so I am not going to share, but I will share my top two winners and the big loser, and give a quick analysis of why.
#1 Winner - Azurigen.com
Of all the sites I visit, this one is the #1, because it is my site. I have total control over what is put on it, and the time I spend on the site benefits me and my business 100%. Any audience interaction I have with the site is under my control, the audience I cater to has a positive interaction with the site, and I can use it to benefit others. This is very much a long term investment though. As I am so early in my business’ life, the audience is small, but growing. I can’t entirely be sure if it will stay a winner, but for now it is.
Runner Up Winner - Twitter @AzurigenMCS
Really, this should be several social media sites, but I have been having the most success with Twitter. Though I don’t have as much control over social media sites as I do at others, Twitter has been a nice, even medium to work with so far. I have a growing audience and what I tweet can 100% benefit myself and my audience. It also acts as a promotional site for my top pick, and so far I have had entirely good interactions with my audience. It also lets me keep the negative interactions to a minimum, and the content that I do see is beneficial and productive.
Loser - My Personal Facebook Account
Facebook is an interesting problem. Upon going through my guidelines, it needed to be cut on all criteria. It had very little benefit to me, the large amount of time I was spending on it was not productive, and the audience I was interacting with was both positive and negative, not only towards myself, but also towards others. Though I had control of what I posted, I had lost control over what my timeline looked like, and the constant deluge of ads and recommendations was absolute nonsense. Don’t get me wrong, Facebook has some positive aspects, keeping up with old friends, having access to quick messaging, and easily organizing groups and events. Overall though, the costs outweighed the benefits, and so it was cut.
There you have it. It’s not perfect, but it is a start. There is a whole list of other sites that I am using, but they take up little of my time compared to the other sites. I’ll talk about them in future blogs. Just remember, the take away here is to be proactive, and stop letting internet take your time, and start making the internet work for you.