Feeling the Burn: Recovering from Social Media Burnout
If youâ€™re tired of reading 500 tweets a day and have carpal tunnel from scrolling through your Facebook stream, you may have social media burnout. Other symptoms include a nagging feeling that all this â€œengagementâ€ is pointless, more interest in self-promotion and less in selfless-promotion, and a complete lack of strategic direction.
Why Social Media Burnout Happens
Social media burnout has reached epidemic proportions; Google+ might have been the network that pushed legions of social media faithful over the edge. People began to wonder how many social networks they could embrace without dislocating their shoulders. People began to notice the absurdity of sharing the same information with the same groups of people on so many different sites.
But network overload is only one cause of social media burnout. Reasons obviously vary, but many people dive into social marketing with a level of enthusiasm and intensity they cannot possibly maintain. Others become discouraged after months of negligible or nonexistent results. Still others lose interest because their most highly valued social media connections have given up the ghost. And almost all serous-minded social participants dislike the ever-growing legions of spammers who do nothing but disrupt and distract.
Dangers of Social Media Burnout
As a longtime social marketing enthusiast both personally and on behalf of diverse social clients that include a podiatrist website design and web marketing firm and a contract food manufacturing company, this contagion of social burnout is most troubling indeed. One worry is that if committed social marketers vacate the scene, push marketers will take over and drive away everyone else, effectively destroying a great marketing channel.
On an individual level, burned out social marketers do more than make themselves unhappy; they cannot help but produce inferior results, putting their careers and their client relationships at risk. Considered in this way, social media burnout is no laughing matter.
What Individuals Can Do to Fix Burnout
Simply understanding the causes of burnout go a long way toward finding the right fix.
On the issue of platform overload, welcome the development as an opportunity to step back and give your social media efforts a candid strategic assessment. Instead of scrambling to cover all the social networks (bad), or spending time on the networks in your comfort zone (possibly worse), focus energy on networks that perform and move away from those that donâ€™t.
If your initial enthusiasm has evaporated, accept it. Just because the honeymoon is over doesnâ€™t mean the marriage is over. For any type of marketing endeavor, itâ€™s critical to find your sustainable pace. This means learning when to step away. I find that taking a deep dive into social engagement early in the morning and late in the day works well, especially when I ignore it more or less in between.
When lack of results is the issue, make sure youâ€™ve defined realistic goals in the first place. Remember that progress is more important than raw numbers. If you see a steady increase in engagement, mentions, comments or whatever metrics are important, you may be doing better than youâ€™re giving yourself credit for. And continual improvement goes with the territory; chasing viral home runs is a foolâ€™s game. As with everything else, hard work, methodical execution, and patience separate social media rock stars from the pack.
If your social connections are drifting away, this again is part of the normal course of events. All it means is you have to redouble your efforts to forge new connections with people who share your interest and enthusiasm. Itâ€™s difficult to step out of your comfort zone, but isnâ€™t doing that, after all, the essence of overcoming burnout?
What Social Networks Can Do to Fix Burnout
At the top of my list: spam control. There are excellent third-party utilities to rein in Twitter spam, including Twit Cleaner. But one wonders why Twitter doesnâ€™t do more directly to help police itself. Facebook actually does a pretty good job of allowing users to filter ads, but post-IPO, itâ€™s easy to see things going in the wrong direction, toward more open and aggressive advertising. And so far, Google+ has remained somewhat spam-free, but considering the newness of the platform and Googleâ€™s reliance on ad revenue, itâ€™s hard to imagine them stifling advertisers to any significant degree.
Another anti-burnout idea, one that may not be well received, is for social networks to charge user fees. This would put a roadblock in the way of spammers, give networks a revenue stream to reduce their dependence on ad revenue, and encourage social media participants to either take their game up a notch or find other marketing options. While a pay-to-play model increases the hard cost of social media marketing, it would go a long way toward keeping participants enthused and getting results.