Prior to Facebook's IPO, a survey asked Americans what they thought of the world's largest social network. The results: more than half believe it's little more than a passing fad.

Right or wrong, talk of social media fatigue is on the rise and that has marketers, many of which have been investing substantial sums into social initiatives, on alert.

While there's only so much marketers will be able to do if Facebook, Twitter and other popular social networks start to wane in popularity, they may be able to give consumers fewer reasons to tire of their favorite social sites. Here are five ways they can do it.

1. Focus on quality, not quantity

One of the greatest things about most social channels is that they make distributing a message to a large number of people a relatively quick and easy process. That, coupled with the fact that it's hard to stand out, often encourages marketers to push more messages into the social mediasphere than they can and do in other channels.

But that's not always a good thing. If you don't want consumers to think your brand is creating the kind of fatigue-inducing noise that increasingly permeates services like Facebook and Twitter, saying more less often may be a better approach.

2. Adopt a less is sometimes more approach to social channels

Facebook and Twitter are frequently seen as can't miss social channels. And for good reason: they're mainstream and have massive audiences. But what about newer social channels like Pinterest? In some cases, for some marketers, these may be very productive (perhaps more productive than Facebook). But that's not always the case and marketers should be cautious about the number of social channels they're active in.

3. Analyze, analyze, analyze

The question of whether social delivers ROI largely continues to plague marketers, but that doesn't mean that there's no data for marketers to analyze. There is plenty, and even though there may be few hard and fast rules about what it all means in a general sense, that shouldn't stop marketers from trying to discern what they're doing right, and what they're doing wrong.

In other words, once marketers know what parts of their social initiatives consumers 'like', they can reduce the parts of those initiatives that consumers like less, which should, in theory, help reduce the number of reasons consumers have to tune out social media altogether.

4. Remember that timing is everything

A recent study conducted by Buddy Media found that many brands are not using social to communicate with consumers at the times consumers are most receptive to their messages. That, for obvious reasons, is a real problem because oftentimes the only difference between an effective message and an annoying message is the time at which it was delivered.

5. Be strategic about social calls to action

If some consumers are tiring of social media, many marketers arguably have themselves to blame. After all, calls to action that seek to drive consumers to social channels have skyrocketed in number in the past several years. In moves that harken back to the days of AOL keywords, some brands now promote their Facebook Pages and Twitter handles above their own website URLs. And let's not forget social sharing buttons, which are literally plastered everywhere.

While it's important for brands to make consumers aware of their social presences if they're going to invest heavily in them, the incessant social calls to action may very well be contributing to social fatigue. This should give marketers a reason to think more strategically about when and where they employ them.

Patricio Robles

Published 31 July, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (3)


Stephan Jaeckel

Ok, lets face it that facebook can do what a mailbox could do25 years ago - just with more speed, better graphics and..... oh yes, ads plastered everywhere (if you have not the browser-plugins to stop that) and your data being used or abused for unknown things (from a consumer point of view).

Lets also face that its called SOCIAL media. How many times do you interact socially with friends, family, relatives and try to sell them something in exchange for money??? Always, 10%, 1%, 0.1%, less?

Social is about engaging with HUMAN beings and companys (I know this is a controvercy right now in the USA) are not a human being, just run by them and most likely those with direct customer contact are the ones who have the least say and how customers have to be treated and what they will be told in all honesty.

In all honesty you are largely bound to receive stupid marketing rubbish when asking stuff through social media to a business. Same is true for complaints.

If I as a long time user of a frequent flyer program an CRM-professional do KNOW that the changes make it harder to get points and that flights will be more costly with ess advantages for me then a reply on facebook telling me the contrary in bright marketing-rubbish language, then I KNOW I am being lied into my face!

If I am with a brand involved for years as a true brand-advocate and get alienated then showing this in social media will not change anything. The low-cost students hired to run the social pages because only young people who grew up with all this understand about it have little to no understanding what it means if a barand-advocate defects their company publically / socially, nor do they care with a a 1 Euro/day internship that will end after 6 months.

If I just want to complain to a retailer that they took "my" peanutbutter brand off their shelves I have to let their app use all my data and all the data friends open up to me and also allow them to use my complaint and their response for marketing? Thanks, I go buy a different brand at a different retail chain!

As a frequent flyer I wanna link up via Twitter for quick postings about stuff going wrong - like huge waiting lines, slow security checks. Others want invitation for freebies. So I either engage with the airline and am constantly invited to games, fun and stuff I do not want or I do not engage.

Especially Twitter would allow for seperate channeling and moreover promoting customers through channels depending on how much you value them. And no, its not discriminating only inviting people into a channel who do 30 plus roundtrips a year in biz and offer other channels to those flying once or twice a year on massivley reduced fares. Have facebook groups where you can discuss troubles, processes, services with people and change your company accordingly. Thats social!

I guess I am now endlessly long in what could be an easy answer to the question of how to avoid social media fatigue with people:
Learn, learn, learn your own lessons in social life, be social your own special way and do not try to sell.

Engage, be meaningful and be honest. If your biz plans to raise prices on a customer card tell people BEFORE and not after rolling out the change! There will be less service with it another 4 months later? Say so what may come BEFORE it happens! A customer who bought a card too late and at a higher price will be very unhappy to see its service value drop knowing he will be stuck with it for 8 more months!

Oh you don't wanna tell competition what you plan or that you maybe plan something? Well are you wanting to be social or an anti-social a schizophrenic?

about 6 years ago


Nick Stamoulis

Stephan makes a great point. Too many brands have turned social sites into just another advertising platform. It is not a soapbox for you to stand on and pitch people from. That is not the reason people started using social sites in the first place!

about 6 years ago


John Addyson, executive at iclinicworld

Shared such a great points!

about 6 years ago

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