In our ultra-connected world where we’re always-on with our smart phones, social media has become an essential part of businesses today. On average, a person uses Facebook approx. 20 minutes and close to half of the planet’s population (over 3 billion humans) uses some type of social media.
Due to the information overload of todays information age and the fast-moving attention stream, the attention spans have significantly decreased to only eight seconds for the big part of social media users. This is even affecting our bodies, causing increased heart beats.
The new term “social media fatigue” is defined as the trend to a feeling of anxiety, to pull out from social media and the sensation of being overwhelmed when thinking of online interaction. It defines users of social media that stop using it when bothered with too many sites or friends or followers in combination with too much online time dedication maintaining these contacts. Another factor contributing to social media fatigue, are boredom and online privacy concerns.
According to a survey with 100 participating SMEs via Facebook forums, seventy per cent used social media for an hour (all channels). Over half of the participating business leaders claimed to get more engagement and followers when taking specific training and when researching on how to improve their social media strategy. They also achieve better conversion rates and drive more traffic to their websites.
Less than one third of these businesses had specialized staff (social media or marketing managers). The rest were taking care of their social media strategy themselves which may explain that over eighty per cent said that they were feeling stressed and even panicked about their social media posts daily. Some of the underlying reasons were the “pressure to be perfect” or “everyone else is doing so much more”. The ongoing struggle for more followers, connecting with bloggers and influencers and constantly evolving features are other reasons that were mentioned by these owners.
According to psychological research of the International Journal of Information Management, there’s a lot of comparison on social media which can lead to acute stress and anxiety. Many SMEs use social media to build their business and the idea of continuously posting new, good quality content can cause anxiety, irritability and a lack of focus. Another reason for fatigue is the tendency to spend a lot of time on social media, scrolling and pretending to appear busy. Some businesses even report they feel disenfranchised with their own business, which they have set-up with hard work and passion. When SMEs lose followers and Instagram and/ or Facebook engagement KPIs drop due to changing algorithms and policies, its many times perceived as a lack of engagement with the business or brand. Almost half of the business owners (forty-eight per cent) thought that “maybe no one wants what I have to offer” and more than half (fifty-two per cent) mentioned that they were “not feeling great about their business”. They also confirmed that they were so hung up on social media, that they got distracted and didn’t have enough time and energy to create new services or products.
If that resonates with you, the use of social media is probably also affecting your wellbeing and mental health. Here are 5 things you can do to help overcoming the sense of anxiety and fear that is associated to social media marketing:
- Take a break
It’s not the end of the world to step away and it probably won’t cause your business to go bankrupt. Avoid thinking you cannot take a time out from social media. Re-assess your communication strategy and be aware that there are other ways of connecting to customers. Consider taking a spa or wellness break using one of the ZenDays active recovery packages. Come back to it when it feels right. Customers who leave probably weren’t that interested and people who like your company and want to get in touch will stay with you.
- Focus on the right channel
It’s not necessary that you work all the channels at a time. Be selective and focus your attention and energy on the one or maybe two channels that suit your needs. Instead of trying to cover all the various channels out there, you may have a preference. It can be immensely liberating to focus your attention, reducing the sensation of overwhelm and anxiety.
- Produce quality instead of quantity
Many people are under the impression that they can only be successful on social media if they post several times a day to beat the algorithm. Instead of putting yourself under the pressure of producing a lot of output, focus on the quality of your content and only post when you have something to say. It’s useful to think about your target audience, who you really want to approach with which message and at what time of the day. My experience shows that 500 followers who are really engaged with my product or brand are worth much more than 50.000 followers that were bought via some dubious social media agency.
- Become creative and disconnect
Sometimes it can be good to take a step back and give yourself some time for digital detox. Use a notebook to keep your thoughts when not connected. Sometimes the best ideas appear during a walk in the forest or when hanging out with your friend during the weekend. It’s important to disconnect sometimes in order to be more creative.
- Be real
People can smell lies from the distance and there’s almost nothing worse than content that’s not authentic. It’s tempting to “optimize” the way others perceive us. Most of the time, social media only gives us a small glimpse into someone’s reality. Almost like in real life, in social media it is important to be congruent. Try to be your authentic self and don’t fake or optimize things excessively. Believe in your brand, imagine it’s a reflection of you and your values. Being genuine and honest to ourselves, can be liberating and it can decrease the pressure we might put on ourselves.
Obviously, every business is different, and this is not a one-size-fits-all solution for everybody. Maybe we should re-consider our social media strategy. Maybe we should re-assess our entire business strategy that puts social media at the heart of it all. Maybe it’s not necessary to adapt to all new tech trends and blindly follow the mainstream narrative but find a way that works just right for us.