There's a new movement on the horizon that's not only affecting the way that people are talking about social media and tech, but also the way that people are using it.
It's called the Time Well Spent movement, and it represents a new, tangible shift in the public perception of technology usage and the healthiest, most effective way to use it.
If you're like most people, you've probably spent some time considering your relationship with social media and your smartphone, weighing both the benefits and drawbacks of the digital platforms.
On the one hand, devices and social channels can connect you with long lost acquaintances, keep you abreast of the news, and make sure you know about any hilarious, viral memes that are being shared. Further, if you run a business, you know that your devices can also connect you with tons of potential leads and ensure your customer base feels included and engaged.
On the other hand, however, our digital addiction comes with a slew of drawbacks, for individuals and businesses alike.
Studies recently showed that, on average, we touch our smartphone about 2,617 times a day.
That's a lot of interaction and a lot of potentially wasted time, if you're not cognizant about how you're using it.
Some experts believe that the way we use social media and devices can actually make human connections less authentic and meaningful, which may be the cause of staggering levels of loneliness and isolation and the resulting reduction in well-being that many people are experiencing today.
It's out of this grappling with social media that The Time Well Spent Movement was born.
What is the Time Well Spent Movement?
The point of the movement is to call attention to the fact that technology might actually be harming society, and to create a shift in the thinking of tech companies so that they are creating products and platforms that help people better use their time – not waste it in harmful ways.
The ultimate goal of the movement is to get the people creating technology that focuses on Humane Design. This means that designers understand and acknowledge the ways that humans are vulnerable to being exploited by technology from the get-go, then design their products with this in mind – minimizing the potential negative impact and incorporating features that help humans use the products in the healthiest, best ways possible.
How Has the Time Well Spent Movement Manifested in Tech?
Leaders of major organizations and companies are embracing the Time Well Spent Movement. This means that you can already see marked changes in many popular tech products and platforms, and developers and designers are working to incorporate features that help users make smarter usage decisions.
For example, Instagram recently launched a "You're All Caught Up" feature that lets a user know when they've seen every photo in their feed. This stops them from wasting their time looking for new photos (when there aren't any), and helps people limit their usage.
In January 2018, Mark Zuckerberg also announced that Facebook would be rolling out a feature called "Your time on Facebook." This feature would tell people how much time they've spent on their Facebook app each day for a seven day stretch. A feature like this will bring awareness to the amount of time people are spending on their devices and on the platform, and alert people to the fact that it's possible they're spending too much.
Finally, at WWDC 2018, Apple announced that they have new digital usage monitoring tools built into iOS 12. These tools include Screen Time, which monitors and displays the amount of time people are interacting with apps and features, and Downtime, which allows you to block notifications from apps for a certain period of time (or after a time limit is spent).
What Does the Time Well Spent Movement Mean for Advertisers?
It's clear that tech companies embracing the Time Well Spent Movement will have a tangible impact on the way that users perceive and control their digital engagement. But, the movement will also have (or, is already having) an impact on the way the way that advertisers can use the Internet for digital marketing – especially when it comes to social media marketing.
Platforms like Facebook have already predicted that digital advertising costs will rise thanks to the Time Well Spent Movement, since sites are now shifting to prioritize content from users' friends and family members over businesses.
This means that their will be consistently fewer ad impressions, despite a steady demand for ads from advertisers – ultimately resulting in a rise in the prices of ads.
Studies show that the cost of 1,000 ad impressions was already up 122% from the year before.
So, if you're a marketer, how can you harness this shift in mindset to still effectively reach an audience and grow your number of leads?
First, marketers will need to focus on the same things that users are shifting focus to: meaningful engagement.
Marketers should be focusing on creating material that is informative and valuable (and not empty). For example, native advertising will become a powerful way to both market to users and provide helpful information.
Also, content marketing strategies like blogging will continue to be of utmost importance, since they represent a way to get found on the web via search engines, and lessen the need to get noticed via traditional digital ads.
Content marketing also offers businesses a way to put meaningful content on their own social media pages and give users the option of engagement (or non-engagement) – harnessing social channels for promotion without having to pay for ads.
Finally, for companies still planning to place social ads as they exist now, brevity and clarity will be key.
Users are limiting the amount of time they are spending online, which means they should be able to understand your messaging and brand in a single glance, and not need to engage with your advertising content for long in order to know who you are and what you do.
There's no doubt that social technology has a major impact on the way that people live their lives and the ways that companies choose to do business. So, if you're a marketer, it will pay off to embrace the changes that are on the horizon with the Time Well Spent Movement.
Shift your techniques to match peoples' moods and priorities. By offering value and ensuring ads are digestible quickly, advertisers can engage with people how they want to be engaged with and not add to the burden of the digital time suck that people are dealing with today.