I was in a meeting with the CEO and the marketing person. The marketing person doubled as the CEO’s personal assistant. The CEO had just returned from a conference and was upset because he missed a session he wanted to be part of. He blamed the marketing person for this. “I don’t understand why I didn’t know about that session,” he said. The marketing person responded that she had emailed him an itinerary of where he needed to be and when. “I get a lot of email,” he said. It was true, he was on a mailing list that sent him tons of messages every day. “You know what I don’t get a lot of?”, he continued. “Text messages.” Apparently he wanted the marketing person to send him a text message before important events. I later showed the marketing person how to automate having the CEO’s Google calendar send text message reminders 15 minutes before appointments. However, the larger lesson is this – when one avenue of messaging gets flooded, if you need something to get noticed, use a different method.
Over the past couple of months on Instagram, I’ve noticed less engagement on my posts. At first, I thought it was just me. However, I’ve been watching other people’s posts, and compared to their number of followers, less than 10% of their followers are liking their posts. In some cases, I’ve seen the engagement as low as 5%.
What’s the cause of this? I didn’t know. I was searching Google looking for the answer, when I came across a LinkedIn post by Nick Paul. called “Did You Also See A Drop In Instagram Engagement? Here’s Why.” In this post, Nick carefully breaks down the reason, which makes perfect sense – it’s called content fatigue. The number of people on Instagram has increased dramatically, and so have the number of posts. Some people post multiple times per day, now there are even ads to watch. Nick makes the point that what used to take a few minutes to scroll through might now take much longer.
“Content fatigue” is a perfect description for this problem. When Instagram was new and there was very little content there, each post was expressive and felt carefully crafted, especially when compared to Twitter or my email inbox. It doesn’t feel that way anymore. It feels like a marketer’s daydream. The adage is true – “marketers ruin everything”. Do you remember how giving your email address when your purchased something was new and exciting? You might get an email from the company with a coupon or news of an upcoming sale. I recently bought some clothing online and received a promotional email from the company every single day. What’s great about that? Remember my story about the CEO getting too much email? Instagram has become the same way.
Twitter used to be new and exciting in the same way. I remember how excited I was the first time someone famous followed me. I thought “now they’ll see my tweets! Maybe they’ll even retweet what I say to their followers!” I can tell you with certainty that’s never happened. That famous person follows over 10,000 other people. My content is lost in their timeline, but I doubt they ever look at their timeline.
Over time, I’ve given up on Twitter. I follow less than 500 people, many of them friends and family who rarely, if ever, post tweets. To see their content, I can add columns in Hootsuite, or go to their profile page. But I’m also overwhelmed by the number of tweets I’ve missed every single time I login. I don’t have time to read through and click on the links from the 1,000 tweets that were posted overnight. I could make lists for all the people I’m truly interested in, but even that would be overwhelming. Content fatigue is the term to best describe that feeling.
The biggest concern I have about this problem is that it’s a never-ending issue of transitioning platforms. Marketers swamped everyone’s inbox, so people began using Facebook and Twitter more. Marketers saw the opportunity to reach people on new platforms and began pushing out their message heavily on Facebook and Twitter. People switched to Instagram, and marketers saw the opportunity and moved there. Now people are moving to Snapchat – how long before all the marketers see the opportunity and move there next? Isn’t this just a game of wack-a-mole? Marketers ruin everything.
I feel that I’m personally contributing to this problem every time I tell someone about how great Snapchat is, and how much engagement you can achieve. Maybe it’s time to rethink marketing strategy and instead of trying to figure out where people are moving to and how to use the platform, to create a platform just for marketing and advertising. Don’t pretend it’s for family and friends, then allow marketing. Just a platform to view interesting and engaging marketing, with people voting good content up or down. Each post can be only 15 seconds and be limited to one post per company per day, and each view would result in the viewer receiving a micro-payment. Now that would be a platform I’d engage with. Maybe. Until something else came along.