Now here’s a study that I can relate to, having 1) forgotten to check into foursquare on outings for over a week; 2) not checked my Facebook news feed for several days; 3) checked Linkedin only once since my weekly reminder; 4) ignored my last Plaxo reminder; and 5) (sorry, Adrian) only checked Twitter three times this week.
So while I attribute my own lack of involvement in my social media circles in the past couple of weeks more to lack of time than to lack of interest, when I saw this new study from Gartner Inc., regarding signs of maturity in the social media market, with some users in certain segments are showing ‘social media fatigue’, it certainly took my eye.
Gartner surveyed 6,295 respondents, between the ages of 13 and 74, in 11 developed and developing markets in Dec./10 and Jan./11. Consumers were asked about their use of and opinions about social media sites with the aim of examining usage trends and how enthusiastic users were about social media in general across a range of countries.
“Overall, our survey underlined respondents’ continued enthusiasm for social media,” says Charlotte Patrick, Gartner’s principal research analyst. “Teenagers and those in their twenties were significantly more likely to say that they had increased their usage, while at the other end of the ‘enthusiasm spectrum’, age-related differences were much less marked, with fairly consistent percentages saying that they were using social media less.”
Of the respondents, 24% said they use their favorite social media site less than when they first signed up. These respondents tended to be in segments that have a more practical view of technology. But 37% of respondents, particularly those in younger age groups and more tech-savvy segments, said they were using their favorite site more.
“The trend shows some social media fatigue among early adopters, and the fact that 31% of Aspirers – Gartner’s term for younger, more mobile, brand-conscious consumers – indicated that they were getting bored with their social network is a situation that social media providers should monitor, as they will need to innovate and diversify to keep consumer attention,” says Brian Blau, Gertner’s research director. “Branded content needs to be kept fresh and must be able to capture people’s attention instantly. The new generation of consumers is restless and short on attention span, and a lot of creativity is needed to make a meaningful impact,”
Gartner analysts also examined whether the type of social media site respondents used affected their enthusiasm. Given that 24% of respondents indicated that they were using their main social site ‘a little less’ or ‘a lot less’ than when they first started using it, consumers were asked what negative factors might be influencing their decision. Most notable was that 33% were concerned about online privacy. Attitudes to privacy were also age-related, with teenagers citing privacy concerns significantly less often than older respondents.
“The level of consumer concern around privacy will require ongoing vigilance for brands concerning customer opt-in and education,” says Patrick. “Lessons should be learned from the likes of Facebook as they test the boundaries of consumer tolerance in search of more revenue.”
In terms of geography, some of the more mature social media markets — Japan, the UK and the US — corresponded to the global average trend — with roughly 40% of respondents using the site more than when they first started, 40% using it the same amount, and 20% using it less. Markets where enthusiasm was higher included South Korea and Italy, where nearly 50% of respondents said they used their social media sites more. At the other hand, countries with the most respondents saying they used the site less included Brazil and Russia — both with between 30% and 40% exhibiting less enthusiasm.