Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

Is There Such a Thing as "Social Networking Fatigue"?

By Dennis D. McDonald

Is there such a thing as "social networking fatigue"?

Luis Suarez thinks so. He wrote about it recently in Your Single Social Network - ClaimID and Identity 2.0 to the Rescue?. Here's an extract of what he said:

More than anything else because if there is a single major inhibitor from people to try out new social networking tools it is actually the initial sign-up process along with building the initial network of colleagues and friends to get things going.

Here's the comment I left on Luis' blog:

Luis, I'm wondering if this idea of "too many profiles" might really be a non-issue. I say that because the determinant to social networking is not the sign-up and profile loading problem, it's the time necessary to really interact with all the networks. There are only 24 hours in a day.

One way of thinking about this is to consider the sign up and profiling process as the "fixed cost," and the time necessary to interact with the network the "variable cost." I'm much more concerned about the variable cost than I am the fixed cost. 

On second thought, I think Luis really has a point here, but we also have to take into account the nature of the social network when we consider joining. One consideration about "joining" a network is whether it is an open or closed network where only "members" can post or read communication.

For example, if I spend time interacting with the network (say, by posting comments or creating fresh content), do I care if people outside the network will be able to read that content?

I thought about this recently when I was asked to join a network created by an industry commentator for whom I have a great deal of respect. He has a widely read blog and has created a group of invitees, people whom I also respect. The question now becomes, how do I allocate my time to reading, commenting, and writing -- and also doing what I need to be doing to make a living?

So on the one hand I see the great benefits of the easy formation of specialized "online communities." They allow us to create and share thoughts, and rub shoulders with, the people we know and respect.

On the other hand, too much exclusivity complicates life. For example, if I'm not a member of a group, can I subscribe to and read its RSS feed?  Do I have to go through a special log-in process to gain access?  The more "speed bumps" there are to overcome, the more likely it is that I'll delay interacting with a network, unless the obvious  member benefits outweigh the hassle factors.

These kinds of considerations are  dollars-and-cents issues to some folks, such as professional membership associations, some of which might be facing major membership renewal shortfalls in the face of the rise of widely available online social networking opportunities.

Please comment below if you have some insight into this issue of "social networking fatigue"!


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