Don't ask me to follow or Like your company on social media if it won't add value to my day. I am struggling already with site fatigue, and I can't add another unwarranted detour to my already tedious trip on the information superhighway.
I'll define "site fatigue" for those who may not have heard the term before. (You've probably experienced it.) But let me first explain how it can be contracted and who is behind it.
Each week, I visit hundreds of corporate, government, and individual Websites. I read news, dig up press releases, search for information, digest financial analysis, and even indulge in a few minutes of entertainment on sites like YouTube and Yahoo. To top it off, I receive a deluge of requests to Like companies on Facebook, follow tweets on Twitter, or be LinkedIn with others. Then there's Foursquare, Google+, Habbo, MyLife (formerly Reunion.com), MySpace, Plaxo, Renren, StumbleUpon, and XING. (Click here for a more complete list of social networking Websites.)
Stop. My brain is clogged. Like many other professionals who have to wade through this thicket of invitations in addition to other sites, I am typically dizzy by the end of each day, and I am happy to get away from my computer, smartphone, or tablet. I didn't know what to call the ailment until a colleague, Barbara Jorgensen, explained during a meeting that many of the people in the electronics purchasing community are suffering from site fatigue and would welcome only those additional offerings that help them sort through the clutter. They need functional sites that narrow the digital landscape they must survey. In other words, less is more.
They are tired of digging up pricing information for certain components on countless sites and then lumbering to another set of sites for news and data on market conditions, suppliers' financial health, product availability, economic forecasts, etc. They visit supplier sites for technical information, the Securities and Exchange Commission site for regulatory filings, parts distributor sites for end-of-life and lead time information, and manufacturer home pages to glean whatever they can about product roadmaps, other strategic initiatives, and management changes that can impact their operations. Then, as if this journey through the Internet wilderness weren't mind numbing enough, they get requests from some of these same companies to "visit us on Facebook."
Are you kidding me? Some of these requests simply don't make sense. They eat up time I could be using more productively. I wonder if these companies realize how they are contributing to the mindless chatter that's clogging up our inboxes. Please don't ask me to Like your company on Facebook if there's no particular hook or reason for me to do so. Don't ask me to follow your tweets if they aren't worth following. Don't ask me to tag or recommend you if I can't justify the investment of my time.
In case that wasn't clear enough, let me get some more off my chest: I am tired of being asked to like companies I don't care to like, to follow firms with no compelling stories, to link with businesses that haven't convinced me we have anything in common, and to "pin" products or individuals with whom I share no interests.
And I am not alone. Site fatigue is becoming an endemic disease among workers worldwide. We like social media, but it must be properly used. Right now, that doesn't appear to be the case at many companies. If your company has a Website that I can reference, what exactly do you want me to do on your Facebook page? Are you sending me to this site simply because everybody else is there, or do you have something there that would make it easier for me to get the information I need?
OK, I know this may sound like the ranting of an overworked editor, but answering these questions can help businesses make better and more productive use of resources and avoid alienating suppliers, customers, and end users. The indiscriminate use of social media is driving a large portion of your audience crazy, and some are simply ignoring your requests because you haven't given them any justifiable reason to respond.
As I was writing this blog, I decided to conduct a simple test. I had never seen a "Like us on Facebook" request from Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), and I was wondering if the company even has a Facebook page. I checked. There's no www.facebook.com/apple page. What about the competition? All of Apple's rivals have dedicated Facebook pages, including BlackBerry, Dell, Ericsson, HP, HTC, Lenovo, Nokia, and Samsung. Component suppliers are on Facebook, too, including AMD, Freescale, Intel, and Qualcomm.
The typical message on these pages resembles this one from Ericsson's page: "Ericsson is on Facebook. To connect with Ericsson, sign up for Facebook today." Why, I asked myself. Does Ericsson know something Apple doesn't? Has it leveraged Facebook in ways the folks over at Apple just don't get? Why would I want to connect with Ericsson on Facebook? Do I really need that intermediary between us? What exactly does Facebook offer me about Ericsson that the company doesn't offer now on its Website?
And why should I worsen my site fatigue by adding all these social media sites separately for the dozens of companies I follow?
I am not a social media Grinch. I will follow your company if you can justify the investment of my time.