The Relationship Between Techniques and SMM Fatigue
Sometimes I back away from all the interesting developments and conversations happening in Social Media Marketing conversations and get an instinct to pull back from it all to re-distill what it is all about, some golden truth that drives the whole process. This instinct is pretty strong when it happens and I just know that I’m hitting on something important for myself and possibly others. Some might find the observation of this post trivial, but it hit me in a special way. When I got this truth, unfortunately, the expressed result was just one of those uber positive advice tweets that litter the Twitter conversation field, seemingly begging for a RT. It is painful to see the impulse to communicate come out so differently than my intent:
Thinking abt what social media boils dn to. Genuine interest in others. Fake that & it will exhaust u. Feel it & it will feed.—
Kevin v Duuglas-Ittu (@mediasres) August 22, 2013
I, as many Social Media professionals do – perhaps especially those who work for multiple clients, alternating through diverse subjects and audiences – have struggled through Social Media Fatigue quiet often (let’s call it SMF). Sometimes SMF is in regards to a small task, sometimes it is with a process that has to be repeated over and over or even an audience or lack of audience. It just is the nature of the beast. Social Media demands the best of ourselves, an energy and positivity that when it gets externalized not only stimulates others, it also can awaken the best in us. But the most sensitive of us – and really all people – have serious need for downtime, for contemplation or silence, times when nothing happens. We require reservoirs to draw from. That is the usual model. We in Social Media are sacrificing our internal time for the good of a public outlay. And it is fatiguing.
Commerce, Tech/nique and Soul
Let me take a different tack onto this fatigue. I was busy commenting in a fairly abstract way on some concerns about Google’s increasingly intelligent algorithms presenting content that we may want on Google Plus. You can see the process of my thoughts in the comments on David Amerland’s post on Complexity. What it seems I was working toward was an idea that I pursued a few years ago, that Social Media was driven by a Gift Economy. Gift Economies have a logic that is contrary to Market Economies and there is a fundamental tension, if not conflict, between them, I believe. What struck me was that Social Media Fatigue is a product of this tension between the two. What do I mean by that, in what way?
For Social Media Pros, but also for anyone vested in their social media there is always the question of intention when posting. Where is the soul leaning when completing what is sometimes a very complex task requiring many dimensions of your person (analytical, aesthetic, custom-following, know-how, etc.)? We have been gifted with increasingly adroit tools that enable us to inhabit not only multiple platforms – each with their own sub-culture of behaviors and aesthetic – but also multiple facets of ourselves. Where is our soul when pushing through these advanced techniques, all woven together quite productively though our various devices? It seems to me that fatigue starts to set in most for me when my attention is mostly on the technique itself, just getting or doing it right…(and right includes innumerable of aspects of me expressing values that are important to me and brand). The advance toward techniques are a kind of human/cyber interface, a technique of being-human that marries actual technical devices, user UI designs and techniques of ourselves. The tech/niques come right out of the commerce frameworks of the platforms we are negotiating and the designs that support them. We are using tools that we have purchased or downloaded and increased our speed and thresholds of interfaces to thrive on platforms that themselves are driving a competition to spread as fast (and as deep) as they can. It is a heavy sea. We ride and push through these waves and frankly it requires a great deal of concentration and harvested authenticity.
As we face the fatigue though I think many of us counter this tech/nique fatigue by finding within ourselves a genuine (or authentically discovered) enthusiasm for what it is we are posting. And if not enthusiasm, interest. We oscillate between a thorough engagement with the technology and techniques and our soul reaching out to the content in a kind of (perhaps only momentary) embrace.
We try to fight fatigue this way.
In this model the interest in content can be fairly rich. It is a personal reaction or investment in what is being shared, or what is being said, a connection that is being made, a feeling to what the topic is. We respond authentically, if not creatively to what Facebook calls analytically “stories” and to commentary, and we move between that spike in enthusiasm back into techniques, marking and positioning our way as we go. Sometimes techniques themselves even become the content and we get a kind of meta-pleasure of teching the tech, techniquing the technique.
But I think that we’ve got it all wrong. There is to Social Media a core dimension that honestly gets lost as we bounce between content enthusiasm spikes and the labor of tech/technique. Those two poles are really what the Social companies are all about. They are busy pushing our “stories” and their supporting techniques because these are what is measureable, and these are what they have designed for their own success. If our souls try to fight SMF by this dichotomy we will only be eventually be drained. What is missing is the thing that gave birth to social in the first place…genuine interest in others.
Think about this the next time you post something. Think about this when you exercise a technique that dovetails audiences or streams. Who or what are you caring for? Where is the focus of your soul? If you are feeling tired, if SMF is getting to you it is very likely that you have lost your interest in others and have been caught in a binary.
Each and every person we connect to is not simply a node, they are a fathomless beacon – a beacon of something we can be. Be interested.
I think key to this is something I learned from my wife who struggles with mental training stuff all the time. She is a pro Muay Thai fighter here in Thailand, having fought over 50 fights she inspires me. Expectation is 80% of motivation is one of the mental training adages she thinks about. When we think to do something what we expect plays a large part in our disposition to do it. When we do things through our interest in others our expectations are quite different, much more potent and liberating than those that come from acting out of content interest or the pleasure and accomplishment of know-how.