I'm going to share my personal opinion on networking sites, and how they can benefit your business and also damage your business at the same time if not used correctly. A straight forward answer from a serious business person or an organisation on spending whole day on networking site would be, if you have nothing better to do and are short of ideas, then spend your time on social networking sites, otherwise a big NO.
We all know networking and social media has become the way we interact with other users and build our online business, as that's where majority of the internet users are, and it would be silly not to go onto networking sites if your an online business, but just like anything else if it's done correctly it will defiantly be of advantageous and if something is over done, it can start to have a negative impact towards the business and also start to look spamy i would say.
On the other hand there are companies that have dedicated employees and users to spend the whole day promoting the business on networking sites, this is perfectly fine, if it's done cleverly, and not in a way where the users are bombarded with updates and links, most organisations have this setup to answer questions, replay to posts and help users with their services and products by interacting with them live via networking sites such as Facebook & Twitter. I sometime have contacted corporate organisations via Twitter and have got my query resolved much faster than picking up the phone and calling into a call centre.
Now as a Small business owner, how do you draw a line of on much time to spend on networking sites, as you're already juggling so many tasks, and meeting deadlines, and if you start to go onto networking sites, you can get sucked into surfing and interacting, and before you know it, hours and hours have passed, and you haven't actuality done your day to day business activities, and this trend if followed every day, will impact your business.
Firstly I wouldn't recommend putting all of your eggs in one basked, e.g. spending all my time on Twitter, or Facebook, or even Buzz, or any other networking site. The reason for this is, similar concept to just optimising your website for just one search engine, which if that search engine changes its terms or decides to close or change something, your time that you spent in trying to tweak in achieving high ranking for that one particular search engine has just been washed away.
So you always need to ensure that you follow the guide lines for all search engines and aim to rank well on all not just one but all. Similarly with networking sites, if you spend all you time on one networking profile your actually just building your contact with a group of users that use that one particular site.
Now to manage all of your networking profiles all together would be quite a task, hence would take up your whole day. So the best way to go about this would be to set certain times in a day where you would just spend a fixed time on social website, i would say no more than 20 minutes.
e.g. you can spend 20 minutes in the morning on Facebook, 20 minutes at lunch time on twitter, and 20 minutes maybe on Linkedin in the afternoon, and before you finish for the day, you can spend 20-30 minutes quickly reviewing all accounts.
This method works very well if your managing all your accounts along without delegating your networking sites to your employees. I would also highly recommend using programs such as HootSuite, that allow you to manage all of your accounts in once place and also giving you the flexibility to schedule updates and tweets for the future. This will save you allot of time, so that you can concentrate on what you do best (your business). In the morning or the evening before you can schedule the whole days tweets and updates, and answer all of your quires all in one place.
Yes networking sites are important as part of growing your business online, and building a web presence, but it needs to be done moderately and I would say cleverly, and should not distract you from your main business activities. Spend your time wisely on networking sites and do what you do best, your day-to-day business.