Let’s say you go a day without posting anything to Google+. Or you miss a week of uploading images to Instagram. Maybe you fail to get a blog post up for over a week. Do you suffer pangs of guilt? Or enjoy a sense of relief? Do you feel out of the loop? Or liberated?
Perhaps a more relevant question is whether or not your absence from one platform in particular is due to social media fatigue or simply the never-ending proliferation of social media gathering spots.
Clearly a lot of people and brands are reaching a saturation point. How many new platforms can you try? It was easy when all you had was Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a blog. Now you’ve got Google+, Quora (maybe), Tumblr, Instagram, Foursquare, Pinterest, Percolate. And more is coming. I get pitched something new at least once a week. Last week it was the new video tagging and sharing site BlipSnips. It’s cool, but where’s the time?
Today the New York Times’ Stephanie Rosenbloom had a piece title “For the Plugged-In, Too Many Choices.” (It’s worth a read, though I’m not sure I’d emulate the behavior of some of the people featured. For example, there’s one person whose social media routine consists of little more than capturing quotes from the books he reads on his Kindle then scheduling them to be posted over the course of several weeks via HootSuite.)
Ideally we need to separate social media platforms from the opportunities they afford. The fact that we can connect, share, and benefit from the recommendations of friends new and old who can introduce us to new books, stories, and ideas is unlikely to get old or to make us tired. Having to learn a new platform every week might. More challenging, of course, is that it adds to an already fragmented media landscape that begs the question of where should we engage.
For those of us who are marketers, it raises additional questions. How many of these platforms do we encourage our clients to use and subsequently commit to? Should they try everything for the sake of learning? Or wait until there’s scale enough to make their time worthwhile?
The trick, of course, is to make everything work for you, not the other way around. There’s no need to use it all. It’s absurd to “broadcast” by posting the same thing to every platform. You don’t have to accept everyone’s request for a connection on multiple platforms.
I’m frequently asked how I do it. The truth is I’m incredibly disorganized. I’ll never have the discipline of Chris Brogan or the urge to post content as frequently as Maria Popova. Furthermore, while I sign up for everything – believing it’s my responsibility as a marketer to experiment with platforms on which clients and colleagues expect me to have an opinion – I only end up using those that add real value or pleasure to my life.
For me it’s simple. As an individual I have specific objectives.
- To engage with and learn from the smartest people I can find
- To more efficiently discover and filter content of interest and value
- To stay current enough with new technologies to advise colleagues and clients
- To share what I know with people who can benefit from the content I create and post
- To have a little fun (more entertainment out here than on TV)
Here’s what I’m using right now and why:
Twitter is news, interesting links and a catalyst for conversation
Twitter remains my most valued social platform. It’s the easiest place to make connections. You can effortlessly filter people by profession, interest or the kind of content they share. And if you’ve taken the time to build and engage a true community, you have people who’ll answer your questions, find stuff for you, and help promote your own content. If you truly engage and offer value to your followers, you’ll even find that in return people bring you unsolicited ideas and links that they know you’ll be interested in.
Google+ is (maybe) the best of everything
I never was much of a Facebook user. Strikes me as being about going backwards rather than forwards. As digital strategist Farrah Bostic puts it, “Google+ is what everyone is saying – a social media do-over; it’s a network for people with a shared present/future (interests and passions) rather than a shared past (common schools or employers).” Add to that Hangouts for collaboration, Sparks for filtering content and finding stuff to share, and Circles for filtering and Google+ is not only incredibly efficient, it inspires many new ideas for how to guide client strategies in the social space.
Blogging (WordPress) helps me focus my thinking and share ideas
Despite all the new ways to post and share content, blogging will continue to be one of the four places where I spend time. It’s a tool for organizing my thinking, content and presentations. It’s an opportunity to share, teach and support others who are interested in what I might be able to offer. It invites deeper conversation. And it helps foster relationships with other content providers whose ideas and willingness to engage makes me smarter. While Tumblr and Posterous make posting easier, I still prefer the discipline, features and SEO advantages of WordPress. Plus, like anything else, once you’ve invested time and effort why change?
Instagram offers me a window on my friends’ daily lives
Instagram is just too easy and too much fun not to use. And it’s relatively effortless. Sure you can become a bit obsessed filtering images with 100 Cameras or taking images with Pro HDR. But that’s not really necessary unless you’re trying to win an imaginary photo contest. If you want to use Instagram to leverage your own visibility – following all the right people, liking their photos so they’ll like yours, managing your network with the objective of getting onto the popular page – that’s great. I might employ those tactics for a client who is actually marketing on Instagram, but personally that’s way too much effort.
All the rest
I obviously use YouTube, more as a search tool than for posting, and Vimeo for my video interviews. I rarely show up at Facebook or Linked In, but maintain a profile on both. I get around to Foursquare once in a while. And I’m playing with Percolate, though I haven’t really had enough time.
The fact is I’ll never be one of those people to schedule time each day to “do” social. Nor would I ever pre-load my tweets. That just doesn’t feel authentic. I tend to agree with Farrah who simply says, “Try not to worry too much. Use the tools for their appropriate purposes,” to which I would add, “And remember that they’re supposed to serve you; you’re not supposed to serve them.”
What’s your strategy? Do you have one? Are you fatigued?
Coming soon: More thoughts on this from Farrah Bostic (most recently a group planning director at Digitas) and BBH’s innovation chief Saneel Radia, both of whom were kind enough to answer some questions on the topic.