Just about everyone I know has written about the new “yuppie flu” we’re calling “social media fatigue.” There are valid perspectives on the position that we (consumers, corporations) are inundated with and overwhelmed by the demand to be social. Communication overload is as old an affliction as, probably, speech itself. I’m pretty sure the third phrase that ever evolved was loosely translated to “would ya just shut up already?” (The first had to do with food, the second; sex. I’m sure of it.)
On the business side — I totally agree with my friend Rusty Speidel who wrote his opinion that not all businesses require a social solution. It may surprise you to know Idon’t think social platforms are the be-all, end-all to doing business and I certainly don’t think that social media represents a series of stand-alone tactics. I have a really hard time with a business that wants to plunge into social media engagement without even knowing where they’re going. The companies without consistent branding, messaging and media relations plans in place too often are getting ahead of themselves creating an online presence not remotely supported by content that is strategic or that has a recognizable purpose.
That’s the kind of stuff I, too, would like to see stop.
As a consumer, I don’t feel the need to engage socially 24/7. Even though I make part of my living providing social media counsel and education, I typically totally unplug on the weekends. I manage my engagement to a level of comfort, and freely unsubscribe, unfollow, remove and delete without compunction or guilt.
I will not (ever) “friend” a business and I have to really be interested in your content to actively follow you on Twitter, like your business page, or read your blog content. There is just FAR to much content, for even a hyper content consumer such as myself, to absorb. I value my time — all of it — and I’m not going to waste it on anyone offering me yet another solution I don’t need, a sale I’m not going to take advantage of or a loyalty program that has no pull on my purse strings.
Many people have reached a saturation point — so many that it’s been branded “social media fatigue.” I’m tired of hearing about it, frankly. (Sitting, drinking a beer between this guy and this guy as they argued about it pushed me to my breaking point.) Enough already.
Social strategy is part of communications strategy. Social media represents a fleet of tools we can use to help us communicate. For businesses, this must be applied carefully and not with the broad brush formerly used in media relations or direct marketing.
As consumers, it’s our individual personal responsibility to “clear the mechanism.” That quote comes from one of my favorite baseball movies, For Love of the Game, which I realize dates me and makes you realize that I’m older than you thought I was. In it, the pitcher played by Kevin Costner, uses the mantra “clear the mechanism” while on the pitcher’s mound to negate the sound of the crowd and to focus only on sending a perfect pitch over the plate. (*Editor’s note: I changed this post; originally I said the movie was Bull Durham, another baseball movie favorite but thanks to Jeff Uphoff, a baseball movie authority, realized my mistake. Thanks, Jeff!)
Consumers need to do this as well — clear the deck, shut down the programs, pare down the reading lists and above all, get rid of the crazy amounts of notifications you’re getting from all of these platforms. I’m stunned to learn how many of you get e-mail notifications daily from LinkedIn, from Facebook, from Twitter and/or Google+. For goodness’ sakes, no wonder you’re fatigued — get rid of that stuff. You don’t need it. Lord knows the last thing anyone needs is more e-mail.
If you’re a consumer feeling overwrought by communication, clear the mechanism.
If you’re a business feeling the pressure to use social media, question the process, the tools and the direction that strategy is headed. There may very well be steps you’re unwisely leapfrogging to get there.