PR & marketing manager Hannah Gabrielle reassesses her online behaviour to be more productive in 2013…
On 24 December a friend sent me a Facebook invite to a digital detox beginning on 1 January 2013. She explained that she was leaving Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for good, in an attempt to focus her time and energy on real life.
I grilled her about it over Christmas. She just didn’t have enough time to keep up with the digital Joneses. Targeted adverts (she’s pregnant) had been the tipping point: “I’m tired of people trying to sell me stuff I don't need when I’m struggling to pay the mortgage,” she said – a common sentiment in double-dip times.
This echoed my own recent online behaviour. I used to tweet and use Facebook obsessively. But as the novelty wore off and my inbox became congested, I stopped tweeting, Facebook became an administrative nuisance and checking my Gmail was a chore. I had added a layer of housekeeping to my life with all these digital platforms, apps and devices.
It transpires that feeling overwhelmed by the demands of digital is a trend. A few weeks ago Grazia magazine featured a cover story about Kate Moss 'rocking the new lo-fi trend’, and last November CNN reported a digital detox travel destination to help gadget addicts go cold turkey. Meanwhile, Paul Miller, writer for US tech publication The Verge, set out last May to live one year without the internet. Even our Fundraising handbook opens with a nod to the ethos of the Slow Web.
When it came to considering my own new year’s resolutions, a digital detox sounded tempting. My 2013 mantra is 'do less, better,' so I had to translate this to digital behaviour. I’m usually very organised with my time, but the internet is the one place I disappear down a rabbit hole. I found my frustration described in an article by ‘early adopter’ Dave Pell, about how technology, rather than simplifying our lives, has made us always-on creatures.
So I took action. I unsubscribed from more than 30 email bulletins. I spring-cleaned my online profiles and, on inspection, found that Facebook accounted for the majority of my wasted time. That’s because it is so damned good at sidetracking me with useless things.
As an agency that creates digital content, we appreciate the need to be useful or entertaining – to create something valuable to users. I’m being tough in 2013: if there’s time, I’ll hunt out the entertaining.
And that’s my 2013 prediction. I think we’ll see Facebook usage evolve. Social media fatigue will make people a lot choosier about signing up to new platforms; engagement will be much harder to achieve and, consequently, will become even more valuable to marketers.
This week we’ve already seen the Guardian report 600,000 UK users leaving Facebook in December 2012 alone, just as Facebook releases a statement claiming 27 million UK Facebook users. Time, as they say, will tell. Either way, here’s to a more productive 2013.