Always Open for Business

In chapter 9 of Mary Chayco’s book SuperConntected: The Internet, Digital Media, & Techno-Social Life, the author discusses the subject of “constant availability” with regard to digital and social media connectedness.  Chayco says, “People who live in tech-intensive societies can come to truly depend not just on digital technologies, but on the convenience they afford” (p.183).  She quotes an interviewee of hers that said, “The pro-side is I’m available, and that is the downside, also” (p. 183).

Fortunately, and unfortunately, this rings true for an online, social media based business as well.  If I need to contact a local store, someone at the post office, or even a restaurant, I have to wait until they are open again for business.  For instance, yesterday (a Saturday), I visited my son and found that the cat he recently adopted from the Humane Society is having some sneezing.  Of course, I wanted him to take her to our veterinarian for a check-up.  Unfortunately, the vet we use does not open again until Monday morning.  Considering that sneezing is not a medical emergency, there was no warranted reason for him to take her to a special 24-hour Emergency Vet Clinic.  So, alas, we will call on Monday.

My online business operates much differently.  One might say, I am always open – even though my hours are clearly posted on my website.

Screenshot (89)

Image from: Rebecca Snyder, Vantel Pearls Silver Leader Facebook business page.


Image from

My posted hours do not stop customers from messaging my business page AND my personal page all hours of the day, every day of the week.  …And, I am guilty of doing the same.

My son and I decided we wanted to get similar tattoos recently.  We knew that the tattoo shop was closed at 2am when we were discussing this idea, but that did not stop me from contacting the shop that came most highly recommended (by my local Facebook friends) via private message (yes, at 2am) and asking about availability for the next day.  To my surprise, the reply came almost instantly with the tattoo artist who was available to do our artwork and what time we should plan to show up as walk-ins.  And, when we showed up that next morning, the owner remembered our message and got us right in for our tattoos.



As users of  24/7 social media, where do we draw the line?  Or better yet, are most even aware that they could be crossing a line?  An argument can be made that, anyone who does not want to be contacted outside of business hours can simply ignore the messages until they are back “in the office.”  However, as simple as that seems, Facebook has made it complicated to ignore a message.  It dings, it sits in the notifications and haunts us with that little red number at the top of the app letting us know that we have UNREAD MESSAGES, and, if that isn’t enough, Facebook also shows our customers that we have read the message by having our little profile picture circle move down the message thread.  No denying we received it – or even what time we read it!  Thanks Facebook!


I suppose the worst that could happen is that I lose a customer for not responding quickly enough to a message she may feel is urgent enough to send at 2 am.  For some businesses, that probably would not matter as they have many customers and many more to come.  In my smaller customer base (around 400 buyers total), it takes each one to make this work for me.  So, I truly can’t afford to lose even one customer – and I find myself jumping through hoops and answering messages as quickly as I receive them, even if that is in the middle of the night.  Chayco speaks to this and suggest perhaps it is not the fault of digital technology.  She says, “Keeping up with a flood of stimuli and information can be challenging and burdensome.  Tasks may start to snowball;  people can feel they need to work and/or be digitally connected day and night, lest they fall behind the curve…but…these stresses are not caused by digital technology us.  In fact some of these stresses are simply the ‘cost of caring'” (p. 191).



About Rebecca Snyder

I am a grad student at UW Stout, a mom to 2 sons (one grown, one almost grown), a homeschool mom, and a pearl girl @ Vantel Pearls. #gradschoolpearlgirl

Posted on September 23, 2018, in Digital, Literacy, mobile, Social Media, Technology, Workplace and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. “We knew that the tattoo shop was closed at 2am when we were discussing this idea, but that did not stop me from contacting the shop that came most highly recommended (by my local Facebook friends) via private message (yes, at 2am) and asking about availability for the next day.”

    This anecdote rings true to me as well, Rebecca. I manage the social media page for my company (Mechanical Engineering Department at UW-Madison) and although we have clear “operating” hours (M-F, 8-5pm) it does not prevent parents, students, and alumni alike from messaging our account at all hours of the day/night/week. As you explained, you jump through hoops to keep your customers happy, (ok I do this too), but I have taken my social media presence to a new level to avoid customers seeing that I have read their messages (yet refuse to respond until Monday morning) as you highlighted Facebook does oh so well.

    I created a new account, I now have two separate Facebook accounts. I’m pretty sure this is against Facebook’s policy, but given that my company only pays me Mon-Fri, I actively try to avoid answering emails and social media messages on the weekends. I only use my professional account during my work hours, I didn’t set it up on my phone or home computer. Although this hurts our business page (i.e. the advertised how fast we are responding to messages, etc), I do think it’s critical to set boundaries to have a good work-life balance. I know in your direct-sales industry it’s much more difficult to set these types of boundaries, but in my current situation it seems to be working for me.

    Thanks for your comments this week.


    • Great details here to complement Rebecca’s post! The whole “read receipts” and “show when you’re active” features annoy me so much, scared me away from LinkedIn and now keep me off Facebook! I’m not sure what the purpose of the feature is really, other than to surveil, do you?

  2. Rebecca, in addition to the smaller customer base you mention, do you have any international customers? I know that would be a reason I’d be worried about not answering messages right away since they could be sent from different timezones and you’d want to accommodate their requests asap before they move on to another business.

    Otherwise, I know I’ve also taken to responding to messages from friends in the middle of the night, always assuming they are like me and have their ringers and notifications off. Here’s hoping! 🤞🏼

    • Actually, I do not have any international customers. Currently our company does not service or ship to countries outside of the USA. I do have customers from almost all 50 states, though – including Alaska. 🙂


  3. I’ve recently been looking into affiliate and influencer marketing and am still considering if I’d like to see if it something that would be an income source for me. However, I am also concerned about the 24/7 aspect of always being open for business. People expect immediate responses. Do you have a set system for managing your online business and communications, such as setting specific work hours for yourself?

    • I do try to set hours, but has proven quite ineffective as I mentioned in the post. Unfortunately people tend to ignore those hours. Facebook is open 24/7/365.

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