Social Media, Social AnxietyJuly 29th, 2013 |
Social media can make us feel envy and loneliness, but we’re also addicted to it. So how can we still realize the beautiful promise that social media will connect us?
According to a survey by MyLife.com, 56 percent of people surveyed fear they’ll miss out if they’re away from social media. The status updates, party invites, and jokes slip past, ephemeral. You suddenly imagine the embarrassment of everyone laughing about some meme that you’ve never heard of. On the other hand, a study earlier this year found that people experience envy and loneliness when they see evidence on Facebook of friends living it up. So there’s no way to win: we don’t want to miss out on all those posts that make us depressed!
Okay, so that’s not the whole story. These studies and surveys are focusing on what we do online, rather than addressing our online experience as part of what is now normal social interaction. I’ve been out to dinner with friends and felt a bit green-eyed when one of them regales me with stories of his skydiving adventures, but we also took pictures of our evening out and posted them for others to see. These studies and surveys keep making the mistake of isolating the online experience from the offline experience, and they’re now inseparable.
Yes, we experience the same range of emotions in the digital realm as we do in the world of matter. Social media makes us sad and isolated just as it makes us happy and tells us where people are, so we can engage with them in the real world. We use social media to coordinate offline activities, so if you’re not online, you really will miss out. It’s not a new digital anxiety. It’s the same social anxiety we’ve always experienced.
The good news is, if you’re using social media as part of your marketing efforts, your customers have fully integrated social media into their social lives. That means they’ve granted you access to their social experience like never before, but you have to respect that access. You’re in a space where your customers are emotionally vulnerable, so you need to reward your users for being present on social media. Make them feel lucky for having been online when you posted that deal, that invite, or that sharable bit of entertainment. Don’t leave them feeling like they’re on the outside looking in—fight the trend of social media anxiety and help deliver on the promise of social media to enhance our social lives.
Here are a few tips for making the most of your social media presence.