Social Media Burnout - How much is too much?

I manage about 15 social media profiles (I really think it's more, but I have lost count...but 2 other blogs will add to this number), some professional and some personal. And it will keep growing, no doubt about that. How many do you manage?

And those are the ones that everyone else seems to use - YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Flickr. When I went to a social media conference last year, and realised how many sites other people were using, it was almost like a shock to my system. Ning, Yammer, Posterous, Tumblr...blah blah blah...more and more and more.

I have however not jumped on to every social media train at the station for three reasons:

1. Relevance: I need to be where my audience is and quite frankly, I don't think Ning for example is that widely used (if at all) in Trinidad and Tobago...yet.

2. Repetition: Some sites offer the same features of another. Though I do have YouTube, I can also upload videos directly to Facebook. Photos too. I can post events on my Fan Page, and build a discussion and community around it, and don't necessarily have to create an event on Meetup. Some social media sites are basically a one-stop shop...for my needs anyway.

3. Sanity: I have not cloned myself yet and the interactions should not just be about how wide one's presence but also how rich one's presence is, and I think it's good to focus on the ones I do manage and build on the relationships I have there, before boldly and blindly leaping into the unknown. I see it almost as diluting the concentrate to let more and more people have the opportunity to drink, but in the end, noone likes the drink.

Working all week with social media (in addition to doing other things) can be tedious and social media burnout is real. It can become annoying if you let it. Sometimes it's good to take a load off. I don't do any "heavy lifting" on weekends to give myself a break from all this social media hoopla. I either log on just to engage in things I enjoy doing online, like vacation planning, brushing up on my foreign languages with online tutors, or catching up with friends. If I am online at all.

One has to spend a lot of time with it if it is to be effective. It's a commitment akin to a marriage. lol. But do we want "noise" or do we want "value" when we spend our waking moments with social media? A lot of people talk about the tools which make managing various profiles easier, and yes, this is great. However, how much is too much?

Some people like to rush the numbers. Build the follower base. Grow the number of fans. Bosses like to see numbers - lots and lots of numbers. Yes, that's all well and good but how many of these people are genuinely interested in the long run, in what you have to say? How many are really giving "tit for tat" when it comes to generating content that is beneficial to your business? I have followers on Twitter, who could not give two hoots about my tweets. It's for this reason that I don't just add any random follower. The noise is loud enough, without adding meaningless chatter/haggling to it.

Do we ever consider whether our audience is getting burnt out as well? Is it just too much, in too many places? And is it being managed in such a way that the human resources available can keep these sites fresh and exciting for the audience?

Not only that, but the attention span of contemporary audiences are getting shorter and shorter. I remember when Hi5 was THE THING. Then came MySpace and that was THE THING. Now Facebook and Twitter, among others, are running the scene, but for how long? And while the myriad of options means you can further segment your audience, as well as create opportunities for increased communication delivery, one has to be mindful that the myriad of choices does not begin to become stale and that interest/attention from your audience does not start to wane.

How do you manage your social media profiles, and avoid social media fatigue, both on your end and the audience's?

2 comments:

kramtt said...

I think we need to define what we call social media. I have a very narrow definition of social media which is limited to sites/services which allow users to interact with each other, meaningfully. So your Facebook, Twitter, even blogs would be social media. YouTube, flickr, smugmug etc are more new media. They allow me to post things out there for the world at large, far different than posting it on #Facebook or twitter or tumblr. the expectation then is that you would post things to these sites which are not of a personal nature (although this is not always the case). Flickr and Smugmug are the choice of professional photogs, as well as serious amateurs.

With respect to pure social media (according to my definition), I myself have 3 active accounts, Facebook, Twitter and my blog (although my blog is not that active). I would definitely agree that relevance is critical. I have no doubt that I was the first local Trinidadian on Twitter, having joined in 2007, shortly after the site first started. The thing is, there was no one else trini there, so I never used it much. As I discovered more and more Trinis, I used more and more often till, as you know, I am a fairly regular twitterer.

I use my various internet presences for different purposes. Facebook is for keeping in touch with friends here and abroad (and maccoing what they are doing). Twitter is used for various things, but mainly short (hopefully witty) conversations with ppl, mainly from around the region, and also keeping up with the internet celebrities i follow.

Twitter is also an incredibly efficient way of spreading information on events (both true and not) and sometimes even faster than the event itself... (http://xkcd.com/)

My blog is for when I have sensible things to say... it has not been active for a while. Flickr, when I eventually get around to taking pictures (really nice ones) will host those pics, and also act as a kind of back up.

Sp all in all, I agree with you when you say that the plethora of internet presences can be daunting. The thing is the best one is the one that your friends use, or for your professional presence, where your customers/clients are.

The internet is such a powerful tool, just last night I was using google maps to get directions for my sister who is living in London at present, to go to a friend of my dad's also in london. I was able to pull up the addresses and BAM... directions by car and map. When we view the internet like this, a tool to help us rather than some sort of godlike omnipresence, then it works wonders for us.

Er... sorry for the little digression there... Social Media... good, overuse of Social Media... bad

trinidarlin said...

In my estimation, the internet in itself is a social platform and social media cannot be thought of as media that is used for personal reasons. And what do you mean by "meaningful interaction"? We can communicate via images, audio and video as well, and convey a message to another person in much the same way we can via tweets or chat or what have you. So I tend to not agree with the social media and new media definition. I would hate to think that companies across the world are using sites like Youtube for example just to effectively waste employees’ and customers’ time, if they did not have something meaningful or compelling to say. I just finished a lunchtime webinar and video’s reach is growing rapidly. The escalation of smartphone usage and other gadgets have precipitated this and has given the average person a voice, which he/she can now use to give feedback, voice opinions or make suggestions to marketers where relevant. I don't believe that messages shared on a larger more public platform are any less meaningful than those shared with a personal clique of followers. I admit, some content on some of these sites border on the ridiculous, but so does some of the content on the sites more commonly used for personal interaction. But the lines are now blurred and with Fan Pages on Facebook for example, giving corporations a foot in the door of what was previously a very personal type of social networking, there are few, if any sites, which still target solely the idle kid on his pc, emailing his grad photos to his relatives.

I prefer to say that the various new or social media are used by different people in totally different ways. I have both personal blogs and blog profiles I manage for non-personal reasons. The content and delivery are completely different of course, but to the audience for which they are written, they have a unique and targeted purpose. Same goes for my FB and Twitter profiles, which again are distinctly different in content, tone and reach. The profiles I do manage are all pretty well subscribed, and meet the needs of the different people who follow them, and relationships have been built on each channel to some extent. I may not follow someone on Facebook for one reason or another, but I may group them as I have done, on Twitter where it is easier to manage my various interests. But another organization may just be better suited for Facebook interaction. This goes for what I do as well, work wise. One medium may not reach Jack, but another will and work quite well for what he is looking for. I am content with the channels we have now and in no rush to oversubscribe to social media if it is not going to meet my needs or that of the people I am targeting. If and when other sites become relevant to my market…sure. But I am fine with my 15 or more profiles at the moment, all of which are updated regularly and have their own built in audiences.

I don't think overuse of social media is bad per se, if your people are there, and you have the resources to manage all these different profiles, thus ensuring that the interactions between yourself and your followers/fans etc remain consistent and meaningful. When however, one is just wanting to be on a site because it is a hip new thing and there is no strategy or dynamic content, then, what's the point?

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