Everyone knows that young people love social media, but according to new research, youth may be starting to show signs of social media fatigue.
The recently released research project by Gartner suggests that young people may be starting to experience social media burnout. The study was conducted in late 2010 and early 201, and surveyed over 6000 social networking users from both “developing and developed” markets. The participants ranged in age from 13-74. The results are most interesting. According to Gartner, one in four 18-29 year olds report that their social media use has gone down. “Boredom” and “getting tired” of services were cited as reasons for this decline. Further, 31% of young users reported getting “bored” with their social network. Moreover, the report suggested that early social media adopters are using social networks less not more; 24% of respondents reported they were using their primary social media site “a little” or “a lot” less than when they first signed up.
Brian Blau one of the Gatner researchers notes: “The trend shows some social media fatigue among early adopters, and the fact that 31% percent of Aspirers (younger, more mobile, brand conscious consumers) indicated that they were getting bored with their social media network is a situation that social media providers should monitor, as they will need to innovate and diversify to keep consumer attention.”
However, not all social media users reported this sense of “fatigue”. 37% of other consumers reported using social media more than they ever have before. Of this 37%, many fell into the 13-18 age group. The study notes: “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’, the age-related differences were much less marked, with fairly consistent percentages saying that they were using social media less.”
The study also revealed that Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States use social media more or less the same amount; whereas, other geographical locations tend to use the medium less.
The study concludes that “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.”
Is the short attention span of younger generations really to blame for some of the apparent decline in social media enthusiasm? Does this signal that social media has hit the crest of its popularity? Likely, the answer is no to both. As with any new technology, there is an initial wave of excitement, followed by the incorporation of that technology into daily lives. The message, however, is that businesses and marketers must do more than just use social media; they must take advantage of the possibilities of the medium and be creative with their execution.
According to their website, Gartner “is the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company …. Through the resources of Gartner Research, Gartner Executive Programs, Gartner Consulting and Gartner Events, we work with every client to research, analyze and interpret the business of IT within the context of their individual role.”