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Posted by on Jan 4, 2014 in Business, Featured, Social Media, Social You, Strategy | 10 comments

Are You Suffering from Social Media Fatigue?


What happens when you genuinely tire of posting, friending and Instagramming? When you remember that tweeting is what birds do and that InMails are just emails delivered by a branded interface?

When you’ve been diagnosed with Carpel Tunnel Syndrome – of your opposable digits? When your “love” of social media becomes a primary source of digital burnout?

What happens when you begin to suffer from…Social Media Fatigue?

Social Media Fatigue is becoming more common, especially among early adopters. Many, despite their understanding of the inherent value of social media, are starting to feel like enough is enough. For root causes of their burnout, they point to tweets from divas, trolls, and drama queens; to narcissistic Twitter chats; to organizations with no clue how to create an authentic online brand; and, most exhausting, the self-promoters worried far more about ego than personal integrity… and to tweets like this…


Not only did this now-terminated person make national news, she is now associated with all that is wrong with the self-absorbed who fail to filter inside thoughts and use social media as a broadcast tool for idiocy.

So how can you strike a balance between creating a consistent, respected online brand and suffering from social media fatigue? Try incorporating these steps into your social strategy:

Think Twice, Press Send Once

This is the social media enthusiast’s version of the adage every carpenter knows: “Measure twice, cut once”.

In social media terms, this means asking yourself if the world really needs to know what you’re about to post – does it pass the “So What?” test? Will it cure hunger, promote world peace, or enable the Chicago Cubs to win the World Series? Or is the only reason you’re about to post that self-serving, inane and/or hurtful thought is to feed your ego with responses? If the latter, then move away from that key, and delete. Now… and for good.

Be of Service to Others

Along those same lines: Is your social stream full of posts about you, your health and family? Do the links within those posts go exclusively to your site, product or service?

When thinking of others – when tweeting compelling content, wishing a colleague good luck before a speaking gig or when serving an ambassador to a brand that has earned your respect – you not only use your influence to assist others, you greatly enhance your personal brand within a larger community.

By providing consistent and worthwhile value to those within your sphere of influence, you become respected as a colleague. From that effort comes more introductions/connections, opportunities and – ultimately – ROI on your time spent on social.

When you’re in service-to-others mode, is Social Media Fatigue is still possible? Of course. However, the ramp up time is considerably longer.

Think: Do I Like My Job?

As Justine Sacco learned, being employed by a company doesn’t guarantee you social media immunity when something inappropriate ends up your online accounts. Even if your privacy settings are fully enabled, this doesn’t mean someone you know also maintains their privacy in such a guarded manner. The result is too often viral – and ends with someone being fired. Not convinced? Google “fired over social media” – and take a look at the results on Page One, alone.

Being employed by a company doesn’t guarantee you social media immunity when something inappropriate ends up your online accounts.

Yes, you have the right to your own opinion and to say it however, and wherever, you’d like. Your employer also has the right to fire you for not staying within their policies, including those now dictated – rightly or wrongly – by the court of public opinion.

Avoid the Echo Chamber

How do you know when you’ve hit the social media saturation point and are simply going through the motions? When you find yourself serving as an echo chamber… tweeting the same advice, the same perspective – even the same words – over and over again. This symptom track goes something like this:

  • Monday Career Chat: “The key to leadership is to be authentic and transparent. If you aren’t a good listener, you can’t be a good leader. #MONChat”
  • Tuesday Google Hangout: “The key to good leadership: authenticity and transparency. To be a good leader, you must be a good listener.”
  • Wednesday Leadership Chat: “Good leaders ARE good listeners. Only authentic and transparent leaders win today. #WEDChat”
  • Thursday Facebook post: “Listen, then lead. Be transparent. Be authentic.”
  • Follow Friday: “For an example of authenticity and transparency, MUST follow @scottzmarren. #FF #goodlistener”

When you realize you’ve stopped contributing original thought to a conversation… you are suffering from Social Media Fatigue. It is time to step away and take a social-less vacation.

Similarly, when you start openly calling out others for being an echo chamber of unoriginal, insincere posts – when you just can’t take it anymore – it is entirely possible that you too are suffering from Early Onset Social Media Fatigue. There is a remedy – although it isn’t covered by the Affordable Care Act moving your thumbs away from your smartphone and turning off your computer at 7PM each night. Challenging? Yes. But, consider the alternative: Exasperation, increased snarkiness, and ultimately loss of “social respect”.

Get Personal

The early adopters of social media – from before it was labeled “Social Media” – have discovered that balance is the key to combating Social Media Fatigue.

We recognize that a deeply personal relationship and genuine influence occurs far more often when hearing the other person’s voice, when seeing their body language, when looking into their eyes. After all, 140 characters offer little insight into another person’s soul.

When you realize you’ve stopped contributing original thought to a conversation, you are suffering from Social Media Fatigue. It is time to step away and take a social-less vacation.

Self-impose a limit on how many back and forth Tweets or comments must be reached before you pick up the phone and talk – or to schedule a time to meet face-to-face. Experience the richness of a real interaction. Then see how subsequent social media interactions actually become more personal – and more valuable.

As with everything that involves technology and human interaction – actually, any relationship – two critical keys are balance and awareness:

  1. Keep track of the time spent on technology platforms and recognize that humans are social animals – emphasis on non-technology-based social – who crave “in real life” relationships.
  2. If you sense yourself becoming fatigued when even talking about social media, it’s time for a break. Book the vacation. Now.

Social Media Fatigue is real. It is, at least momentarily, paralyzing. For many, it can appear terminal – and we abruptly leave our digital lives behind.

Find balance. Be personal. Connect digitally AND in real life. And avoid Social Media Fatigue.

This post was co-written with and inspired by my good friend, mentor, collaborator – and the original “pick-up-the-damn-phone” guy – Steven Levy.

Did you like today’s post? If so you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up HERE and receive The ExchangeGain Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!

Image credit: nazlisart / 123RF Stock Photo

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Mark Babbitt

CEO & Founder of @YouTern, dad of 5, grandpa of 2, husband to a woman who tolerates me (barely), @HuffingtonPost blogger, keynote speaker & mentorship advocate.

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  • Shawn Murphy

    Mark and Steven, boy can I see myself at times in this . . . as far as the fatigue goes. In the early years of my Twitter use I didn’t want to “miss something,” or so my wayward thinking went. Much like a person who incessantly talks, at some point he is just filling the air with meaningless drivel. So, too, is the fatigued social media user. You’ve done a great job capturing what this looks like and why it’s important to balance listening with talking. Nice post.

  • Steve Levy

    Morning Shawn…thx for the kind words. We talked about the concept over coffee in NYC in early December when Mark was in town for a short stay – we’re both very early adopters of social media but relish our face to face talks. We’re both very concerned about how human thumbs might “evolve” if real balance isn’t achieved.

    In recruiting and HR, far too many are convinced that effective recruiting and talent management can take place remotely or “via mobile” without any face to face interaction (Skype isn’t F2F). All these miss crucial interpersonal elements that simply cannot be gleaned in any way other than F2F.

    As good as we are on social tech, Mark knows that when we get together, really great ideas happen. BTW, we wrote this article like this:

    I wrote one sentence, then Mark wrote one. Sentences turned into paragraphs (there were a few calls tossed in).

    Looking forward to the comments.


  • Rob McGahen

    This is pretty accurate. I, myself am certainly finding myself in this situation. When I first joined Twitter over two years ago, I was amazed, excited and to use a horrible buzzword: ‘engaged.’

    However, when you follow what the ‘experts’ say, and nothing changes for you and you see people say the same thing over, and over, and over again, it tends to diminish the enthusiasm and value this brings to me.

    So where do I go from here? I’m not really sure. Maybe I’m still trying to find my voice or still figure out where exactly I want to take myself.

    • Mark Babbitt

      Rob, you continue to do an excellent job of being present and relevant. Good things WILL happen!

      • Steve Levy

        Mark, what if…Rob guest hosts one of our chats; we can call it something like “Relighting the flame”…?

        • Mark Babbitt

          Great idea for an #InternPro subject!

  • ProudMaryBoise

    Awesome points! I love social media but my bread and butter is face to face (Like Steve said: Skype and Factime don’t count!).

    • Mark Babbitt

      Thank you, Mary. Speaking of which, it’s about time you and I “picked up the damn phone!” Yes?

  • Telework Recruiting

    Wow, this is probably the best social media article I’ve come across. Thank you. Sharing everywhere! (Yes, this sounds dramatic, but I kept saying “Yep….Yep….Yes!” the whole way through.)

    • Mark Babbitt

      Very kind words, thank you. Thanks for also sharing on your blog!

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