Right off the bat, I have a few things that need to be made clear. First, Social Media Avoidance Disorder is not a real disorder per se, but there is increasing conversation about it falling under a larger condition called Avoidant Personality Disorder which encompasses a person’s tendency to shy away from social interaction. Second, my title is in no way meant to belittle anyone who suffers from these disorders or any other disorders. Third, this blog is meant to set up my capstone learnings post at the end of the semester, but I also don’t feel as though my reasons for avoiding social media up to this point in my life are unique, so there are lessons for companies to learn from people like me to better reach their target consumers. I will come back to some of my takeaways at the end of my blog, but for now, here are the major reasons why I steered clear of social media prior to taking this class:
My Lack of Contribution to SM
Until this Fall, I felt like I did not have much value to add to social media. My perception of Twitter was that it was dominated by highly opinionated people sharing their position continually as events happened. I know enough about a lot of different topics, but I do not typically feel the need to broadcast my opinions, especially after seeing how quick people are to jump on others on Twitter. I saw Instagram as being a platform for everyone to post pictures of how exciting their lives were from trips to food to social gatherings and though I am completely happy with my life, I also am not one to take a ton of pictures in the moment and feel the need to share. That is also why I did not expect to contribute much on Snapchat or live-streaming video apps like Periscope and Meerkat. So, I failed to see what my overall value would be to social platforms.
SM’s Lack of Contribution to Me
For someone who did not use social media much, I assumed only the biggest newsworthy stories would
be the ones that reach me. So, you can understand my confusion when I was seeing posts about a dress being black/blue vs. white/tan or how tacky Pharrell’s hat was at the Grammy’s. It was because of stories like these that I associated social media with popularizing the wrong type of news. Here you had an outlet that could reach people faster than ever before and more importantly could shape what the younger generations are talking about and it was amplifying pop culture stories. So, I found myself avoiding social media much in the way that I avoid TMZ or Keeping up with the Kardashians.
My Protest Against Phone Dependence
We all have been out with friends when the table suddenly turns silent as heads are down and engrossed in their phones. I despise these moments and I blamed social media for them. Yes, people were pretty bad about depending on their phones when they just had text messages or email to check, but social media apps took it to a whole other level. And with the introduction of push notifications for these apps, we now knew the second a new interaction has happened. Just sitting in classes, I can see how many notifications my neighbors are getting on their phones sitting out on the desks, and I cannot blame them for feeling the urgency to view them. Especially when people on the other side have the expectation that you will get back to them right away. So, I promised I would never let myself get that involved with my cell phone and avoided what I considered to be the root cause of this problem, social media.
My Fear of the Learning Curve
One of the best fictional coaches ever, Jimmy McGinty from The Replacements, says that “a real man admits his fears,” and so I have to share that one of my biggest deterrent from joining the social media craze was fear. I had created accounts in most social apps, but I only regularly have used my Facebook and LinkedIn profile. How was I going to learn to use Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and all the other up-and-coming platforms? Frankly, I did not feel like I had the time to invest in ramping up on how to use each either. My first day on Twitter for this class I was frozen by the sheer number of updated tweets that came in every minute, and I was following only a minimal amount of people/organizations at that time. So, it has been easy up to this point in my life to avoid social media out of fear.
As mentioned, I will update my perceptions on these deterrents in my next blog post as the final analysis of the class, but what can companies learn from hesitant consumers like me in the short term?
First, they can live by the principle of keeping communication simple to overcome the fear of beginning users. For most, posting on social media should not be about quantity, but about quality. A single post placed at the right time with the right message can do much more for a company than hourly updates. Just look at Oreo’s “You can still dunk in the dark,” which was thought to be more successful for the company then their TV ad during the same Super Bowl.
Second, companies can ensure that their content adds value to their customers. This begs brands to personalize messaging because what is relevant to me is likely not relevant to the person sitting next to me. Maybe I want to know what new product is coming out, while the person next to me wants to know if there are any coupons this week. We want personalized retargeted messages and implementing more of this will get new users to buy in.
Finally, companies need to authentically show that the average consumer’s voice matters. Social media is a tremendous tool to level the playing field, but companies need to broadcast how they listen or else people can end up feeling like they have no place on social platforms or have no call to action, like I originally felt. Of course, we have learned there is a line of power that consumers are willing to cross, but promoting the right change of course or plan of action, as Seamless does, can garner company advocates for life.