Managing Social Media Burnout

 By: Mary Ann Johnson
Social Media Fatigue: the Challenge for Brands

With so much going on in social media these days, it is natural for both marketers as well as users to feel overwhelmed by the need to keep up. Social media is dynamic; while many companies are considering Google+, others are juggling between blogs, tweets and posts. It is not just about what social media platforms to use. For most brands, the bigger challenge is keeping content fresh and coming up with new ways to keep consumers engaged. The increasing pressure to be on top of everything and to keep ahead of the competition can sometimes lead to social media fatigue. From the consumer's point of view, reading the same content on Facebook, blogs and other channels will only give them a reason to check out your competitor's webpage. Gartner's recent study on social media fatigue shows that:

One in four young people is 'bored' with social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

31% of the respondents between the ages of 18 and 24 said the fun of social media is wearing off.

The study also indicates that social media exhaustion is something that was most commonly associated with the early adopters. For online marketers, this signals the need to keep branded content fresh and capture people's attention instantly.

Average Corporate Owned Social AccountsThe proliferation of social media platforms can be exhausting for marketers. Yet, many brands believe that the more social media accounts they have, the more web-savvy they are. According to research by the Altimeter group, large corporations averaged a surprising number of social media accounts (178). So much choice and not as much content; what is the best approach? Do you focus or diversify? Do you jump onto every new social media channel that is launched? In our opinion, preventing social media overload is all about finding answers to the too much vs. too little dilemma. Here are some easy-to-follow suggestions:

Define Precise Goals

The key to staying fresh and avoiding a burn out is finding out exactly what you wish to achieve from your social media efforts. Defining precise social media marketing goals is the first step towards understanding what works best for your brand.

Creating a Social Media Footprint: For brands that are relatively new to social media, gaining visibility and establishing a solid online presence is imperative. If these are your objectives, then we recommend focusing on the big three (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) before considering the other options available. This will prevent your brand from getting lost in the social media blur and keep you from getting exhausted in the initial stages.

L'Oreal Facebook Campaign

Knowing your Audience: If you have a target audience in mind, then the right approach will be to focus only on those channels where your prospective customers are most likely to be present. For instance, cosmetics brand L'Oreal launched its recent digital campaign on Facebook after research showed that women, who are the biggest consumers of their products, were highly active on the networking site. Posting the same content all over the social space, hoping it reaches your target market can be exhausting and time-consuming.

Improving Customer Satisfaction Rates: Our advice to brands looking to improve their customer satisfaction rates is 'less focus on fancy campaigns and more focus on helping customers.' Although a well-thought out, creative campaign is sure to attract new customers, it may not exactly be what existing customers are looking for. @dellcares Twitter AccountInstead of launching one campaign after another, while simultaneously trying to keep up with the flood of queries from customers, it would be wiser to work towards being a customer-centric brand. Offer advice, demonstrate how you can be of service, and show your customers that you care. Satisfied customers mean your brand can now breathe easy, plan ahead and eventually launch those great campaigns. Dell, which lists customer-service as one of its top priorities, has an exclusive team that focuses on helping customers via the @DellCares twitter account.

Defining precise goals will give you a great sense of direction, helping you plan ahead. The 'let's get on board and decide as we go along' approach sounds tempting; however, like everything new, the novelty of social media can wear off, leaving all those fans and followers wondering about the unexpected dip in activity. Our advice? Fight social media fatigue by getting a S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed) plan.

The Balancing Act

As an online marketer, information overload can be overwhelming not only for you, but also for your customers. There is a fine line that divides too much content from too little; this can either convert customers to brand advocates, or will drive them to completely stop following your brand. Although achieving the right balance can be challenging, it is nevertheless, vital for long term success.

The Importance of Give and Take: Many companies use social media as a platform to talk about or promote corporate activity. Yes, it's true that social media is a place for this kind of a thing, but not all the time. Uploading or posting promotional material incessantly will give your audience a case of editorial fatigue, giving them the impression that you are too self-absorbed. Welcome those who respond to your marketing messages, engage with them and listen to what they have to say. Keeping the 'social' in social media is all about having a balanced brand-customer relationship.

To Tweet or not to Tweet: The plethora of networking channels out there can sometimes be confusing for marketers, who do not know if they should tweet, blog or constantly update their Facebook page. The pressure to be present everywhere or be left behind has seen many brands experiment with various channels. After a while, this can be overwhelming and tiresome. Here's what we think: a) If you tweet more than 25 times a day, then it would be best to blog b) Try Groupon or Livingsocial instead of Twitter if 'deal-of-the-day' is your thing c) Not much to say? Then you should just tweet. As quoted by the Global Director of Digital and Social Media for PepsiCo, Bonin Boug, "Do only as much as your resources will allow. If you don't have the means to have a person on Twitter 24/7, then don't do it that way....Have [something like] Follow Fridays were you spend two hours talking to the community if that's all you have to work with. There really are no set rules."

Old Spice Ad

Integrate Social Media with Traditional Marketing: For brands that prefer social media in small doses, integrating social media marketing with traditional advertising campaigns is a good way to get the best of both worlds. Many companies believe that a well-balanced mix of social and traditional media can avoid a marketing burnout. One of the companies to have successfully experimented with this approach is P&G. While continuing to advertise on TV, the personal care brand has also managed to create several memorable social media campaigns.

Running Out of Ideas? Listen to Your Audience

One of the most common indicators of fatigue creeping into your social media activity is when you don't know what to do next. Marketers who are highly active on social media are on the constant search for fresh ideas and content in order to keep people interested in their brand. In a world where users are easily turned off by information that is dated and dull, this can be quite a challenge. To stand out in a highly competitive environment, brands need to create content that takes into account the real world environment and the day-to-day events that influence people. This is where social media monitoring tools prove to be highly useful. Here's why we think media monitoring tools like Brand Monitor should be a 'must have' in every digital marketer's tool kit:

It Pays to Listen: Refreshing content regularly is necessary for brands looking to keep people interested in their social media pages. However, delegating this responsibility solely to the marketing or creative department may not always be the best approach. The answer? Listen to your customers for content ideas. Media monitoring will help you sift through the conversations, pick out the most important ones and help sow the seed for some great content.

Brand Monitor Volume Graph

Creating a Campaign? Look Out for the Trends: Measuring the impact of an online campaign is one of the most important reasons why brands use social media monitoring tools. How about using the same monitoring tools to help generate ideas for a new campaign? Using these tools will not just save time and effort, but also identify the current trends. Brands can then design marketing messages accordingly and create a unique brand or company angle. According to Harvard Business Review Analytics Services Report, 55% effective users are using social media to monitor trends or look for new product ideas. Here's what we suggest; monitor the buzz pertaining to trend, topic, or specific keywords before creating a campaign. You are less likely to burn out while learning new things that interest your consumers.

Testing the Waters: The best way to check if an idea is likely to work is by asking questions. Post that blog, ask your readers what they think, seek opinions, even opposing point of views. While some audiences jump into conversations willingly, others need to be prodded and asked for ideas and suggestions. This is a smart way to test the waters. Monitoring conversations, analyzing the sentiment associated with the topic of discussion etc, will help you alter your marketing messages and content accordingly, saving time as well as effort.

My Starbucks IdeaThe Starbucks formula for social media success is quite simple; monitor the trends and communicate with customers for new ideas. The caffeine-giant, through its social media pages, asks fans for suggestions, encourages discussions and requests for ideas on anything related to the company. Prior to launching a campaign for a new or an existing product, Starbucks picks out the most relevant conversations (mostly by listening to what the influencers are saying) and ideas, making users feel that they have some role in the decision making process of the company. By doing this, the company not only generates new ideas and fresh content at regular intervals, but also keeps social media fatigue at bay.

Smart Solutions

You have done your homework, equipped yourself with the required social media tools and have a great brand-customer relationship; yet, your efforts to go 'social' are running out of steam. What you need are a few simple, yet smart-solutions to make certain you don't run around in social media circles.

Automate Some of Your Posts: For marketers with profiles on multiple networking sites, updating them all the time for routine 'broadcast' messages can be a tiresome task. This is true, especially, in case of smaller brands that do not have the necessary resources to refresh their social media content frequently. Automating the posting of some content is a smart way of saving time and energy, at the same time keeping content up-to-date.

Facebook, Twitter Accounts Link

Linking Accounts: Linking key social media accounts saves time for marketers who want to post a common message across profiles without having to log in and out several times. For instance, tying your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts with Twitter, means every time you update something on Twitter it will appear on all three accounts.

Appoint a Dedicated Social Media Team: A large number of companies have their marketing or PR staff also overseeing their social media activities. This works fine for small to mid-size companies that have limited resources. However, for brands that consider social media an integral part of their marketing strategy, it is important to have a dedicated social media team to manage posts, tweet on behalf of the company and monitor the buzz surrounding the brand. This will not only reduce fatigue, but will also ensure the core marketing team has the time to focus on their content creation and campaign management tasks.

Conclusion

Marketers have moved beyond seeing social media as a fad and have started to include it as a crucial part of their overall marketing strategy. While this certainly has its benefits, it also means the possibility of getting caught in the social media vortex is high. After the initial excitement to post, blog, tweet or +1 wears off, brands are confronted with the question of 'what next?' Also, the fact that social media never stops means companies are increasingly pressurized to keep up. Our research shows that online marketers with an organized approach to social media have been more successful at beating the exhaustion that eventually follows.

Instead of the 'do-it-yourself' approach, brands are now looking at customers for inspiration by monitoring for trends and listening to conversations. It is also important to keep in mind that social media fatigue is not something that is restricted to marketers. With so much content and so many platforms to choose from, consumers are also susceptible to a burnout. Though it is not always possible to hold their attention all the time, innovating and diversifying can ensure that people are interested in your webpage. Easy-to-understand, fresh content has proven to be effective in preventing digital fatigue for both brands as well as consumers.

That said, for brands that are plugged in 24/7, instances of fatigue can occur occasionally. Take a deep breath...you don't need to be a social media maven to avoid an overload; preventing a burnout is all about achieving that perfect balance, knowing what works for you and applying smart solutions.
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