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Is Social Media Saturation Setting In?

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Is Google Buzz Too Much of a Good Thing?

Cartoon of a grizzly bear wearing coat and tie, carrying a briefcase.

If You're Going to Be a Social Media Bear, Be a Grizzly

As a social media enthusiast, I sometimes feel like a lemming, chasing from one hot thing to the next. First it was blogs. Then, MyBlogLog got hot – remember that? For a while it seemed like everybody was diving into LinkedIn, and then Facebook pages started sprouting up like weeds. And of course, Twitter.

Now, Google Buzz is upon us. My Gmail inbox is overflowing with comments, links, conversations, recommendations, and observations. All great stuff … but is it too much of a good thing? (Read this for a quick, insightful, high altitude assessment of Google Buzz.)

Today, I feel obligated to promote content on several social media platforms. There are tools that make this relatively easy, but still … doesn’t it seem absurd to throw out a link to one interesting blog post on five or six networks? To be efficient by using social media aggregating tools, your communication becomes less personal. To be personally engaged by conversing on multiple platforms, you run out of hours in the day. Something has to give.

Will social media become another mass marketing outlet?

Many bloggers have noticed a decline in comments and real communication on their blogs. Much of it has drifted over to Twitter or Facebook. But lately I’ve noticed people dropping off of Twitter. They may still be on Twitter, but not with the same gusto. I probably fall in that category as well.

In any business endeavor, we run the risk of spreading ourselves too thin, of losing intensity. This is dangerous in marketing, and particularly so in social media marketing, where passion is what makes it so effective in the first place. How do we cope with the noise, the saturation, the compulsion to engage on so many platforms? I can think of a few things, and I sure would like to know what you think.

Engage with purpose. A friend of mine likes to say, if you’re going to be a bear, be a grizzly. If you feel yourself going through the motions, cut back, reevaluate, rejuvenate.
Engage strategically. The time for experimentation with reckless abandon has passed in social media. Experimentation is still good and necessary, but pick your spots. Have a reason to jump into the next big thing.
Resist the temptation to be a first adapter everywhere. Sometimes you have to let the other guy or gal be the pioneer. I missed the Google Wave wave, and that’s OK. Life goes on.
Be willing to walk away. Pulling the plug on a blog or a Facebook Page feels like a whopping failure. It really does. And the more of ourselves we pour into our work, the worse it feels. But business is business and you have to cut your losses before they cut you. One of the downsides of social media engagement is it makes exit strategies – and executing them – tough. But successful business people always have a willingness to walk away.

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24 Responses to Is Social Media Saturation Setting In?

  1. Seems we’re moving towards complexity instead of away from it. I turned buzz off almost as quickly as it came on – my email issues are complex enough without adding that mess to the mix. Plus I like to think email is semi-private, don’t like mixing the flow of public twitter and status with the flow of email.

    Oh, and so far you haven’t missed anything with Google Wave. I’ve tried to figure it out but I keep having to go to the instructions, at which point one really has to ask, “Why bother?”

    • Fred, Thank you for the insight on Wave and Buzz. I have shut off my Buzz as well, and the public-private issue of email is one of the reasons. I think Google will continue to refine Buzz and it may turn into a very fine product, but I don’t want to Beta test it. Not this time.

  2. Pingback: Google gets social buzz | Strive Notes

  3. I’m afraid Buzz didn’t last long in my in-box – email is email for me, and not the same as social media conversations. The privacy concerns were the nail in the coffin.

    I think you raise some really interesting bigger questions though and I’m particularly taken with the last paragraph on being willing to walk away… I’m taking stock of a lot of the places I’m to be found online, and the content I’ve created, and need to figure out whether / which / how they match my intention, and whether I’ve the courage to walk away if I need to.

    PS This site really does look great the way you’ve got it now

    • Hi Joanna, It is hard to walk away, which I suppose is why successful people have that ability. It’s something my dad taught me a long time ago. Of course, knowing it and doing it are two different things! I think you are very wise to take a break and evaluate all this. It’s hard to make good decisions in the heat of battle, so stepping back to get perspective is healthy. Something tells me you will make the right decisions. And thanks for the site feedback – I’m quite pleased with it myself! :)

  4. Hi, Brad!
    I feel the same:overwhelmed with so many social media networks. I am active in Facebook, Twitter and Buzz.
    Let me say: I prefer Buzz. Since I am a photographer, Buzz gives me the oportunity to add photos to my posts and links.

    • Hi Ramiro, Before I disabled Buzz, I did notice you had some amazing photos. I’m curious: have you tried to use Flickr? How does that compare with Buzz from a photographer’s point of view?

  5. I haven’t turned off Buzz yet for educational reasons. I am trying to see its strengths and weaknesses… and seeing how people use them. But I feel overwhelmed seeing its new messages number grow faster than the rest of my email.

    • Hi Meryl, I’m looking forward to reading your impressions of Buzz. We need early adapters, and this is one I’m happy to sit out. The deluge of new posts really did seem exasperating, though, just as you say. A bottomless pit of information.

  6. Gutsy thoughts, Brad, for a social media junkie. Oops, believe you called yourself an enthusiast; a slip on my part!
    Now that I’ve had my fun, have to say you’ve made some very sage observations. Trying to be all things to all people just doesn’t work over any meaningful period of time. Focus that leads to observable and repeatable results gets the job done – effectively! I recall your dad’s reputation in the industry as a man who stuck by his convictions and honored his commitments. Looks like the apple has fallen admirably close to the tree.

    • Hi Bill, Thank you for those very kind words. I think there is a life cycle to communication media, just as there is to products. Because of technology (more than anything), these life cycles are speeding up. At the same time we are witnessing the demise of printed newspapers, we may also be in the midst of a fundamental change in the nature of social media. It’ll be fascinating to see how it all plays out.

  7. What you describe is exactly why I like to be the “2nd or 3rd wave guy” when it comes to anything new that comes down the pike. But once they’ve stood the test of time, I’m there. Sometimes. Maybe. When I get a round tuit. :-\

  8. What many of us are doing is spending our precious time and efforst in our blogging communities with CommentLuv leading the way and KeywordLuv enabled being where I will be focusing my own efforts.

    Dofollow Blogs using these two plugins are seeing an increase in participation and comments. We are spending less time at Twitter and on other Social Media sites and more time in each other’s blogs and on collaborative sites like BloggerLuv and MyBlogGuest.

    By the way, Google Buzz looks exactly like FriendFeed to us. They got bought out by Facebook and integrated into Google Buzz.

  9. I’m giving it a shot. So far, pretty decent. I manage the noise by being more careful who I follow. For example, I don’t follow users who add their Twitter stream to Google Buzz. Just imagine the noise that will create if you’ve dozens of followers who choose to dump their tweets in Buzz.

    I like that it pulls in your latest blog post to your stream if you elect to add your blog. And people can leave comments on your stream. Yeah, another platform that takes away the conversations about your posts away from your blog.

    Is that a good thing? Well, Facebook does that, too, right? And so did FriendFeed in its heyday. Of course, I’d be happier if readers choose to leave comments right in my blog and not in some parallel virtual universe. LOL

    I like it enough to use it, but not nearly enough to make me feel such utter loss if I do decide to walk away from it.

  10. Hey Brad,

    This is an excellent topic and I’ve learned heaps from the comments so far.

    Confession time. I missed the ‘Wave’ and have only just heard of ‘Buzz’. I’ve canned Facebook, avoided FourSquares and run from Friendfeed. Before I could say ‘iPhone’ or ‘Kindle’, I now have to mouth ‘iPad’. It’s a zoo!

    That said, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

    For every new product, service or platform, there’s a P&L and a group of itchy stakeholders parked behind the froth and bubble. Just as gravity remains 9.8m/second squared, business still needs profit; marketing plans need focus; benefits needs to be relevant and communication power is in the receiver.

    Opportunities abound – to simplify; to make things easier; to remove the friction; to talk in plain English; to demystify; to humanize; to be authentic and touch others with genuine value.

    I may still have a very old phone and be out of the loop (or wave) regarding the leading edge of the next big thing – but this ole dog sniffs major possibilities for some old school discipline and focus.

    Thanks, Brad.

    Best to you and your awesome readers,

    Robin :)

  11. Brad,

    Social media as a marketing tool must be incredibly overwhelming, especially for small business people.

    One of the things which I would suggest in this regard is simply this – do more on fewer platforms. Marketers should not avoid any feelings of compulsion to have a presence on any platform, but instead to choose a few main platforms and adopt a more focused approach. Say, for instance, that you own a recruiting firm specialising in recruitment within the professions (lawyers, accountants, doctors etc.). Why waste your time on platforms where the median age of users is in the 18-24 age group? Why not forget these, choose one or two platforms where you have a fair chance of attracting users within your target market (LinkedIn might be appropriate in this example), and concentrate on building a formidable presence in these areas?

    Why not keep it simple? A targeted, focused approach on one or two platforms surely beats a thinly spread approach trying to be everything to everyone everywhere. Limiting the number of platforms which you use in the first place would surely help prevent a lot of these problems.

  12. Andrew, I think you are right. Social media engagement is always a balance between experimentation and discipline. Right now I think the scales need to shift more toward discipline.

    Robin, You are a role model for social media engagement at this time – would you agree? You seem to be astute at picking your spots. The risk, of course, is that you miss opportunities by not exposing new sets of readers to your business.

    Jan, It’s good to hear something positive about Buzz – it’s clearly attracted a lot of attention. Have you scaled back your other social media involvement now that you are using Buzz? Do you think you’ll be a long term Buzz user?

    Gail, I miss the days when blog conversations were a real art form. The conversation on this post has been good, but it seems like these are fewer and further between. Maybe we’ll gravitate back to energetic blog conversations when the microblogging rage subsides.

    • I’ve scaled back a bit on Twitter. On Facebook, same level of engagement.

      What I like about Buzz is that you’re not limited to 140-character messages. I’m used to being terse, but given more space to express yourself is always a welcome bonus.

      Users must be careful though about leaving comments. If you post risque comments or snarky remarks against someone, assume the worst: that the object of your ridicule will get to hear about it. The entire thread in Buzz can be emailed to anybody. So never leave a comment you can’t defend in court. Ahehehe

      Google has quickly addressed the concerns about privacy and other criticisms about Google Buzz. That’s a good sign for me. And the fact that it’s got some of the best features of FriendFeed makes for better user experience. So I’m sticking around, yes.

  13. Brad, help me. I think I am going crazy. I came here shortly after the Superbowl to read your blog and read a post on “changing your game plan by checking out Google Buzz. I saw some ideas in your post that mentioned the surprise play in the second half of the Superbowl that propelled the momentum of the Saints. You said you thought Google Buzz would do that for us. I’m not using the Google Buzz idea, but I wanted to use your idea of the Saints’ second half surprise and for the life of me, I cannot find that link so I can post my blog which I have been working on for eons, given the stretch between then and now. Would you please give me that link or let me know if you deleted that post since I cannot see it from the titles.

    Thanks so much.

  14. I am so into the various sites that are being used for networking, socializing etc. I have heard of Google Buzz, but have failed to check into it.. will definitely take a look, being a small business owner social sites are the best ways for me to network.
    .-= Denise’s last blog ..Wanda Clayton updated their profile =-.

  15. I tend to use my mail and social networking accounts different. Though Google buzz is available, but I didnt find it convenient to the kind of person I am. And I know many of my friends have also switched it off. It may be a good thing, but not for me. I like to use such things separately like twitter.

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