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“We’re All Spending Time in Social Networking”

November 7th, 2008 by Bob Bly

“We’re all spending plenty of time in our social network accounts,” says Clay McDaniel, co-founder of Spring Creek Group, in an article in DM News (11/3/08, p. 13).

Oh really?

I for one spend NO time on the social network sites — Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn — where I have accounts. So Clay is wrong.

My problem is not, however, with Clay being a cheerleader for social media. It’s with his use of the language.

There are very few instances where “all” — which in Clay’s statement is synonymous with “everyone” — can be safely used.

That’s because it’s impossible to know — or prove — that everyone is doing anything … whether it’s social networking or switching to hybrid cars.

Clay might have been better off to say “most of us” … but that still wouldn’t be safe, unless you could cite a reliable source reporting that over 50% of Internet users are spending X number of hours a week on social networks.

The safest statement would have been to say “many of us.”

But when it comes to social media, even that might be challenged.

For instance, another article in this same issue of DM News reports that more than half of Internet users have NOT read a blog in the past year … and only 12% read blogs daily or weekly.

Again, my point here is not whether social networking is hot or not.

It’s that as professional communicators, we (including Clay) must use accurate language when expressing opinions.

Otherwise, we instantly lose all credibility — as Clay has here.


This entry was posted on Friday, November 7th, 2008 at 3:07 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

64 responses about ““We’re All Spending Time in Social Networking””

  1. dianacacy said:

    I agree. My first thought when I read “We’re all…” was “Which group?”

    Because I know social networking is useful -I use it, but I’m not blind. For every connection I make through the social network, I know there’s hundreds more I’m not hitting. They are just not there.

    I never turn off my internal editor for reasons like you state above. Everyone should train their editor to catch things like this. Not only does he hinder his credibility, but he also alienates his audience.

    My wording would have been “Many people are…”

  2. Brian said:

    That’s the general problem with the Social Networking crowd. They surround themselves with each other, so it appears to them that everyone is doing it. And once you think that everyone is doing something that thing suddenly seems to be really important.

  3. Fiona Fell - The Profit Maximising Web Geek said:

    I spend some time daily using social media and connecting sites. But I am not representative, let alone inclusive of all of my peers.

    ALL. Is a very strong words that I try to avoid unless quantified by evidence.

    Fiona Fell – The Profit Maximising Web Geek

  4. Kim Klaver said:

    Bob – I totally agree with you. Seems like when we strive to look cool, young and hip, we feel like we should say we’re doing what cool and young people do. Some of us. Sometimes.

    I have given up on Facebook altogether, even though I get friend requests almost everyday. It’s just too much hassle to “accept” a friend, and sometimes, I barely know them.

    Maybe it’s because I have a blog and that’s enough socializing for me, or maybe I’m missing a big opportunity.

    But I’ll stick to what I enjoy and get better at that.

  5. Michael A. Stelzner said:

    Technically, this blog is social media 🙂

    I enjoy participating in social media. As a writer, it helps me keep sane.

    However, my blog has been suffering.


  6. dianacacy said:

    I like social media on the web, too. Maybe the fact that I’m naturally an introvert and this is online has something to do with it.

    But I am also thankful to the professionals more advanced than I am for participating. I feel the great links, tib-bits of information, and articles has really helped advance my training over the last few years a lot more than would have happened without them.

    I live remote and cannot, for various reasons, participate in high-dollar seminars or training programs. I did participate in a few specialized higher end programs that have given me a new life that I love, but the other tools I’ve found through those using social media outreach have greatly enriched my knowledge and ability.

    Part of the reason I stay with social media networks is to help pay it forward to those coming up behind me.

  7. Kristi Holl said:

    I liked Brian’s comment as well as this post. For me, when I hear how “everyone” is doing something that I’m not doing, it makes me feel pressured. “Oh no! I’m behind AGAIN! I’ll never find time to do what EVERYONE says I need to do.” I loved the 12% statistic! Puts things in some perspective!
    Kristi Holl
    Writer’s First Aid blog

  8. Social Networking said:

    Nice post Bob. Seeing as that there are now so many social networks catering to such a wide range of niches, my biggest problem is finding ones relevant to me and related to my specific interests or product niches. Google seems to be inefficient and returns alot of irrelevant results. A cool resource that I use is this search engine designed specifically to find social networking sites.

  9. Bob Bly and (Anti)Social Media « by Michael Foreman said:

    […] a line in his latest post caught my eye: “I for one spend NO time on the social network sites–Twitter, Facebook, […]

  10. Many-to-Many: The Spring Creek Group Blog » Blog Archive » A Case Study About Social Media and Controversial Uses of the Word “All” said:

    […] a fairly innocuous phrase that nevertheless set the social media wildfires ablaze. Over, professional copywriter Bob Bly took particular offense with the word “all” and […]

  11. Susanna K. Hutcheson said:

    I tend to agree and I’m sure that I’m guilty of using the language in the same manner. We tend to generalize and, in the rush to get something out, we aren’t careful with our wording.

    As to using social networks, I have a Facebook account and there are times I enjoy it. But, in general, I find them a bore and pretty useless (at least to me.)

    I also have Twitter but have no idea what to do with it or what earthly use it is to me or anyone else. I’m not even sure why I have it.

    I expect there are others who do well on the social networks. I read about them all the time. But I just don’t find it something that appeals to me or does me any good in my practice.

    I recently started a podcast and I find that to be much more effective.

  12. Dennis Kalian - Social Networking said:


    Thank you for giving some clarity on tis topic. My father, brother and I just began delving in to the web scene for our online business and we are feeling kind of left behind as there are so many of these social and business networking sites and more popping up everyday and all seem to be ones that “you have to sign up on” or risk missing out on the next big thing on the web.

    Susan I just recently signed on for a Twitter account and really do not get it either so you are not alone!

  13. Note Taking Nerd said:

    Hey Bob,

    Thank you for the reminder of what to do to piss people off.

    I find that when I use the term “You might… Maybe you… Some people… Do you… people can self select and plug themselves into the scenario if they want to.

    Presuming I know any of my readers experiences without the facts is an easy way to inspire someone to bail on my letter.

    I’d rather get off my ass and do some research and find a study I could quote if I wanted to prove something rather than make assumptions.

    Thanks Bob for the wisdom.

    Notetaking Nerd Numba 2

  14. Ken Norkin - freelance copywriter said:


    Everyone knows you’re right.

  15. Tom McKay said:


    Agree completely. But your last line: “… we instantly lose all credibility.”

    Um… ALL? 🙂

  16. Bob Bly said:

    Tom: guilty as charged. 🙂

  17. The Low-Tech Times » Blog Archive » What Should I Do About Facebook Invitations? said:

    […] Bly recently wrote an article disputing Clay McDaniel’s claim that we are all spending time in social media.  Bob believes […]

  18. Rih Bazellle said:

    I am not interested in the social networking scene for the social elements it may or may not bring. My interest, as part of the team trying to build our site traffic, is in seeing whether or not activity on the social networking sites translates into increased traffic and more importantly – increased revenue.

  19. Chris Kalian said:

    If this blog is “social networking” like Michael A. Stelzner said in comment #5 then I don’t mind doing it from time to time. Ask me to put my life story and pictures of my kids on facebook and I’ll tell you that you’re nuts !

  20. Robert said:

    My college-age daughter was in a ballroom dance competition recently (believe it or not; there were hundreds of kids competing) at Columbia University. Another student ran up to me and asked me if I could film her dancing with her camera. I told her I’d just film her with mine and send it to her. Of course, she was in a hurry and didn’t give me her name. But I had her team number on the video. From the program I learned her name. When I Googled her name, I saw she was on Facebook. I sent her a message on Facebook, and she sent me one back with a way to mail her the DVD. The transaction from Google search to receipt of her email happened in about 45 minutes. I wouldn’t have found her that fast in a non-Facebook world.

    The point? These social networking sites are a great way to find people, but you still have to have a reason to communicate with them, give them something they want. You’ve got to be interesting. Always the same problem.

    In central Europe, in the early 90s, glossy women’s magazines were having a hard time maintaining standard ad-to-content ratios, because people there were not used to the ads and found them to be an intrusion. Now, almost 20 years later, you will find traditional ad-to-content ratios, because people have become accustomed to the ads.

    Right now people are playing with these social networking sites and want to have fun with the novelty, and perhaps resent the commercial intrusion, but with time, they will accept it. But it will take time and those who think it will happen overnight I think are a bit bored with life and need to get out a more often.

  21. Ian Brodie said:

    Seems to me that “we” in this context is “people like me”. And since Clay is the kind of person who uses social media a lot, the statement kind of becomes the rather circular “people like me who use social media a lot are spending a lot of time using social media”.

    Reminds me of a rather clever review in a specialist magazine a few years ago which basically stated “for those of you who like this sort of thing – this is the sort of thing you’ll like”.


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