One of the interesting conversations happening on the web these days is on ‘social media fatigue’. As a user of many platforms, I can admit to having experienced this many a time in the near past. But it’s strange – fatigue for the networks we created. So I asked myself – what really causes it? Is it the overwhelming ‘pressure’ to be on top of everything that happens in one’s ‘social circles’? Or is it the other end -the boredom of seeing the same people having the same kind of discussions day after day?
As we first explore new networks, I have noticed that we often hunt for familiarity – either in terms of features, or people. For the purpose of this post, let’s stick to the latter. From personal experience, I have always wondered whether people (including me), in their efforts to be ‘always on’ and across multiple platforms miss out on broadening their world view, and exploring content beyond their natural haunts. A direct result of this is the paucity of topics beyond the day’s hot topic or #outrage or say, a done to death humour hashtag. All of the above are generalisations, since I’ve also been part of several interesting discussions on Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn. Google+ actually works better for me these days, probably because it’s a new flavour. However, none of the networks have really nailed it in terms of connecting the user to new people who might be able to broaden our ‘scope’. On the contrary, most networks try to use a ‘people like you’ approach. And then probably, familiarity breeds contempt.
Also, as I’d mentioned earlier in the context of Google+ usage, people rarely make the effort to produce or even share different or differently packaged content for various networks. This means that, especially in new platforms, where networks start small, you are hit by the same content. After a while, familiar content can also breed contempt, I guess.
To minimise the fatigue, the hard work for now, given platform limitations, has to be carried out by the users – in production, distribution and consumption. It’s only recently that I started defining my relationship with the platforms – by answering the basic why, what, who, where, when questions. That has resulted in a comfort relationship, but I’ll be the first one to say that it’s not really optimised, which would also explain my continued experiments with various platforms.
For some time, I thought Google+ Circles, used in conjunction with Sparks, would make excellent ‘interest based’ communities, but then realised it was difficult to scale because Circles aren’t opt in i.e. someone has to add you to a circle, you cannot add yourself. Which leads me to the final point.
Thanks to this line of thought, I wondered whether brands could play a role in diminishing social media fatigue. The ‘constantly on top of news’ would require platform solutions, but there are two other opportunities. One, connecting users whose only link to each other would be the ‘stories’ associated with their brand/category. This link could then spawn new layers and associations between them. Two, sharing content that provides the user more perspective in his domain of interest. Obviously, the users to target here are the ones whose interest area overlaps with the brand’s own category. In both cases, there is a lot of data to be unearthed before working out a specific content/community strategy. So, if brands can ply their trade a little more smartly, life on on social networks could probably be a lot better. What say?
until next time, post fatigue?