Google+ Arrives, After Social Media Fatigue

Facebook, Twitter and other social Website users are feeling some social media fatigue, according to Gartner, which conducted its survey before Google+ launched.

Social media fatigue is setting in among some adopters of Facebook, Twitter and other social media Websites, according to a survey from research firm Gartner.

Gartner found that 24 percent of people surveyed said they use their favorite social media Websites less than when they first signed up, with 33 percent citing concern for their online privacy as a reason. Users are also tired of the constant stream of status updates on these Websites.

The researcher polled 6,295 people aged between 13 and 74 spanning 11 developed and developing markets in December 2010 and January 2011.

In Japan, the U.K. and the United States, 40 percent of respondents said they used social sites more than when they first started, 40 percent use it the same amount, while 20 percent use it less.

However, 50 percent of those surveyed in South Korea and Italy said they use their social media sites more. Conversely, 30 percent to 40 percent of users in Brazil and Russia said they use their favorite social sites less.

"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 network is a situation that social media providers should monitor, as they will need to innovate and diversify to keep consumer attention," said Gartner analyst Brian Blau.

Blau suggested branded content must be kept fresh to hold users' attention on social networks. Why? The new generation of consumers has a short attention span.

That doesn't tell the whole tale, as 37 percent of respondents, especially those in younger age groups and more tech-savvy segments, said they are using their favorite social site more. This is consistent with social media usage among younger generations, according to Gartner analyst Charlotte Patrick.

"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," Patrick added.

Facebook and Twitter court different levels of fatigue. With close to 800 million users worldwide, Facebook's social graph is simply massive and daunting, blighted only by the fact that users have to send out friend requests to add people.

Twitter is a different animal. It has 200 million users, but anyone can follow anyone freely, which can be extremely tiring for popular users to keep up with follower notifications.

It's a pity the survey was conducted several months before Google launched Google+, a shiny new social network where one wouldn't assume social media fatigue would set in so soon.

Yet Google+ has only been available in limited field testing for six weeks, and has quickly shot to 25 million-plus users looking to try the long-awaited new network to share information.

However, the Google+ social Circles construct can be tiresome. As on Twitter, users may choose to follow anyone on Google+.

This means users, particularly Googlers, geeks and journalists with high profiles, are finding themselves inundated with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of notifications that they have been added to a Circle.

On the other side of the coin, those trying to add + folks find themselves challenged by trying to decide what Circle to stick users in. There is the "paradox of choice" fatigue factor, where too much choice in a service will result in users postponing decisions, or even declining to participate.

And if Google+ early users feel overwhelmed now, just wait until the network is open to the masses, and integrated across Google's Web services. This is already happening.

As Fast Company's Austin Carr noted last month:

""In playing around with Google Plus in the past weeks, I've started to feel that Google Plus is asking too much from me. Rather than classify my contacts as I might subconsciously in real life-as family, friends, or coworkers-I've been forced to consciously determine my relationships with these people online. Suddenly I was dealing with add requests from distant acquaintances from college extracurricular programs; from friends' parents; from friends of friends; from friends of a friends' girlfriends; from colleagues I like and from colleagues I don't; from forgotten ex-coworkers; from strangers; from enemies, even. It's overwhelming.""

Have you experienced social media fatigue on Facebook, Twitter or Google+?