Have We Hit the Limit on Social Media?

Published: Monday, February 18, 2013

What’s the upper limit for the number of social media channels that people can handle?

At what point do we simply have too many profiles, too many feeds, too much engagement?

As an online marketing professional, it’s a bit taboo to mention the fact that there are sometimes limits on what we can do, how many people we can reach, and how much these people will actually care about what we’re saying. But, I’m also a pragmatist and I have to consider the idea that there is a very real, physical, mental, and emotional limit on the number of channels that we can use to reach potential consumers, or that potential consumers can use to connect with our brand.

Is it possible that we’ve hit that point now? Are we at the peak of social media? Will participation (specifically in established markets like the U.S.) decline — rather than climb — over the coming years? After all, even with our lightning-fast smartphones and 140-character attention spans, there’s still only so much time in the day and only so much of it that we can commit to actually using the infinite number of channels that exist.

I’m not sure if we’ve actually hit any sort of limit, but consider that eMarketer estimates that U.S. involvement in social media will grow by only 4.1% in 2013 (i.e., standing still comparatively to recent explosive growth). Also, take into account the still-burning backlash as users come to the realization that their personal information is being productized by the owners of these networks (see: “Instagram will sell your photos” debacle.) And, consider that most users of social media carry their same circle of friends and acquaintances around to each new site — it’s like traveling from room to room in a house party, but each room has the same people in it.

So, are we at the top of the curve? Have we hit the limit? Are you open to still joining (and actually using) new social networks? Or, will you have to ditch another profile to make room for the newest network?

Shoot me a tweet @TylerHakes and let me know your thoughts.

About me

My name is Tyler Hakes. I'm a digital strategist in Des Moines. I write and tweet about marketing, strategy, media, and technology.

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