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Jan 7, 2013 | Linhart Blog, Our Business

2013 Prediction: Suffering from Information Overload

PREDICTION:  Increased filtering by consumers will make it more difficult for brands to permeate permission-based news streams, making brand exposure and consumer engagement more challenging than it has been over the last several years.

“Imagine having—at last—the entire knowledge of human civilization at your fingertips, and finding that it basically gives you a migraine. With the relentless 24/7 information smog of always-on news, e-mail, and social media, most of us are not feeling smarter or wiser these days. The temptation is to tune out what you can’t control (which is pretty much everything), and focus entirely on the few things you can.” – Wall Street Journal, Beating Information Overload, October 16, 2012

Don’t you feel yourself doing it?
Looking at certain channels a little bit less.
Culling your feeds of useless information.

Creating groups and lists to help you hear the signals through the noise.

Fatigue Sets In

Some people call it social media fatigue. But there’s nothing inherently exhausting about social media – only how you use it.  Clay Shirky perhaps more accurately said, “It’s not information overload. It’s filter failure.”

The human brain can take in a lot of data, but it can only filter through and comprehend so much.  So where tools and algorithms are failing, consumers are beginning to do it themselves.

For consumers, the answer is simple…shut it off.  For brands and marketers, that solution creates a new set of problems.

Consumer Filtering Creates Three New Problems For Brands

  • Privacy Settings & User Sophistication
    Remember the good old days when almost everything online seemed to be exposed for all the world to see?  Then privacy settings came along.  Even worse, people figured out how to use them. These additional barriers are making it more difficult to reach some consumers, and even harder to accurately measure online activity about your brand.
  • Algorithms & Your Winning Equation
    Be it Facebook or Google you’re trying to master, the algorithms are constantly evolving.  Past behavior, social graphs and size matter.  If users are more likely to see posts with higher engagement, brands will have to work even harder to balance quality and quantity.
  • Advertisements & Shrinking Real Estate
    With mobile usage on the rise, screens are getting smaller.  And, as paid integration increases, there will be more competition for prime on-screen real estate. Brands need to capture consumer attention as quickly – and briefly – as possible.

What’s a Brand to Do? Three Solutions To Get Consumer Attention

If you want to permeate hearts, minds and households, social engagement is going to require more than just a “like.” Everything you do has to be more valuable, more outrageous, more entertaining, more timely and more relevant, or risk not making the cut.

  • Utility Marketing
    Offer consumers real utility and convenience that they are looking for.  Create mutually-beneficial content and experiences.
  • Diversity
    Time Warner research found that “digital natives” switch screens 27 times per hour, which means brands need to be in more places and formats than ever before. While it’s important to utilize resources wisely, don’t put all of your social media eggs in one basket.
  • Pay to Play
    It’s gonna cost you.  Social media was never free, but you could pull it off with a lot of blood, sweat and tears.  That may still be possible for some, but if time is money, it might not be the most economical route in the long run.  Even a small investment in online advertising, applications and quality content can pay dividends.

The best practices haven’t changed all that much, but the bar is getting higher.  It will cost you money and effort to get real results moving forward. You can still get your likes fairly easily, but if you want consumer attention, you’re gonna have to compete to win it.

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