Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
August 12, 2011 9:43 PM

The Social Media Fatigue Myth

Are you getting tired of Social Media?

A few years back, there was a slew of Blog posts, Podcasts and in-person conversations about Social Media fatigue. This was just before Twitter broke big. There was a feeling of, "yes, I'm now connected to a lot of people and we're all sharing all sorts of stuff, but now what?" Foursquare and Twitter broke the fatigue because it brought Social Media to the palm of your hand. Social Media truly went mobile and local. In doing so, it also made Social Media much more personal and powerful. It turns out that Social Media niches never became as popular of a concept (at least, not yet) as the platforms filtered down to the local level through mobile connectivity.

It seems like mobile and local is where much of the new innovations in Social Media are coming from.

In a strange twist, there seems to be a new boiling up of conversation around the idea of Social Media fatigue. Anecdotally, several people over the past few weeks have asked me if I am getting tired about writing and talking about it. Some feel that all of the conversation has already been talked about, while others are just now starting to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of content that gets shared within these channels. The concept of Social Media fatigues seems to be most prevalent in those who have added Google + into their online diet. These eager beavers are now grappling with how Google + fits into the mix. They're trying to figure out what's good for Twitter, then Facebook and how it all differs from Google +... ahh, the choices.

Social Media fatigue is a myth.

It's not a myth because of any data or graphs that have come out in recent weeks, and this has nothing to do with news that Facebook may be hitting plateaus in certain markets. My statement that Social Media fatigue is a myth is based solely on the notion that when something becomes so ubiquitous, it doesn't mean that there is any fatigue (we're not using it any less or abandoning it), it just means that when it's everywhere, it's less exciting to talk about (like the air we breathe). When was the last time you picked up the telephone, made a call, hung up and then turned to the person next to you to marvel at the invention that is telecommunications?

Social Media is ubiquitous.

Platforms and channels will come and go. Some will survive, while others die and then we'll have new ones enter the fray that will capture our attention. In the end, we'll still want to be connected and sharing with others. We're just less excited to marvel at it as we were ten years ago (and yes, Social Media is well over a decade old at this point). Podcasting is just another form of audio. Blogging is just another form of publishing. YouTube is just another form of broadcasting. Facebook and Google + are just another form of networking.

The next few years will be about...

Making Social Media an integrated part of our daily diet. Making something that has so quickly become ubiquitous in our lives function as a valuable tool. For some, this will be around their personal lives and how much information they share (and with whom), for us businesspeople, it will be a much bigger challenge. If people continue to deep dive into Social Media, interrupting them with marketing messages will be like interrupting a phone call or crashing a party, instead of the current perception that it's like advertising on TV or taking an ad out in the newspaper. When the ubiquity of Social Media evolves into being much more about networked communications over it's current popularity (which is, mostly, driven by people trying to show themselves off), it's going to become a completely different game for Marketers and Businesses.

So, while you may be suffering from Social Media fatigue, consider that it may be the next big opportunity as it morphs into something completely ubiquitous. 

[update: just saw that Mathew Ingram had a Blog post today over at Gigaom titled, Maybe a little social-media fatigue isn't such a bad idea. Wish I would have seen this before writing.]

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Mary H. Ruth
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch, please forgive my thick-headedness, but what happens exactly when
    "...the ubiquity of Social Media evolves into being much more about networked communications ..."?

    Reply
  • Posted by Miguel Carrasco
    Mitch Joel

    I found this article incredibly interesting. I've had an enourmous amount of people asking me about "social media fatigue" lately so I started writing an article on social media becoming ubiquitous a few days ago and published it just a few minutes ago.

    Fantastic insights as always Mitch. Here is the article that blends very nicely with yours: http://www.miguelcarrasco.com/social-media-ubiquitous/ Would love your thoughts.

    Miguel

    Reply
  • Posted by Matthew
    Mitch Joel

    Great point about social media being ubiquitous. As someone who has a foot in G+, I thought I was starting to feel the fatigue. What I really want is a greater sense of purpose while I am being social online. This, of course, is purely up to me. As the social sphere evolves, and the dust begins to settle, I'd like to think we'll see an increase in organization, and a better awareness of the pros, cons, and primary target markets within each individual network. As it is now, I sometimes just feel I am beating a bush.

    Reply
  • Posted by Jean-Luc
    Mitch Joel

    as a personnal tool I find it takes too much time
    but for a professional blogger, you just have to use it

    Reply
  • Posted by David Spinks
    Mitch Joel

    It's only the social media marketers/experts that talk about social media fatigue.

    The rest of the world (those people that your business should be focused on) is just using whatever makes sense for them at the time.

    Reply
  • Good point Mitch about ubiquity and G+ integration. Seems about right.

    Reply
  • Posted by Madison
    Mitch Joel

    Social media is almost like the newspaper of the time. Did people ever get tired of reading the newspaper? I'm sure someone did somewhere, but really, people stayed interested because there was something new everyday. It became a routine for so many people, much like reading my Twitter feed in the morning is like reading my paper.

    Reply
  • Mitch Joel

    Mitch I agree that it is a myth, and I have seen a lot of talk, tweets and blog posts about this lately.

    Gini Dietrich wrote a post on this exact topic a few weeks ago and I wrote a post highlighting that it's not fatigue yet productivity. I took the opposite approach saying that social media actually cuts down the time to a 1/3 of what we used to spend on these tasks, such as press releases, prospecting, etc. http://bit.ly/okVHke

    Reply
  • Posted by Aaron Eden
    Mitch Joel

    I definitely agree with you on the part of 'opportunity' and for me, timing is everything in this era of sharepocalypse, so they call it. Social media fatigue on the other hand, sounds more like Chronic fatigue syndrome - minus the medical BS, if you may want to call it. I guess, people are simply finding it mundane to post updates everyday like some bot when they can take advantage of many automation tools out there, so they can have the fun in conversations instead. Whatever happened to real talk, I wonder.. Until we learn how to be humans, not bots, perhaps we may always feel like social media is wearing us down.

    Reply
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