You won’t find them in the dictionary and spell check doesn’t recognize them. However, I see them every day and have addressed them in workshops and retreats. You may even be one. What is it you may ask? I’m talking about a social mediac.
Granted, social mediac is a term coined here, so when it gains traction, remember where you heard it! I can guarantee that we all know one, or may actually be one ourselves. For the point of this discussion, let’s define a social mediac as "one who dedicates an inordinate amount of time to social media or suffers withdrawal or anxiety when denied access to social media."
Let’s face it, we know it’s an issue. You see people updating their Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, or watching videos on YouTube in some unique spaces. During presentations, in movies, at stage productions and even in church! One couple across the aisle from us at dinner talked more to the waiter than each other. They were frantically typing, posting and tweeting throughout their meal. I’d have to categorize these two as classic examples of a social mediac.
Evan Asano, from the website Social Media Today, penned a great article entitled "How Much Time Do People Spend on Social Media?" The article stated that the "average person" will spend nearly two hours on social media each day. Over a lifetime, that extrapolated out to be over 5 years and 4 months for those born into this phenomenon. According to Asano, we spend more total time on social media than we do “eating and drinking, socializing and grooming."
Currently, only TV watching outpaces our time on social media. However, according to Asano, that could all change, as social media use hasn’t peaked yet and traditional media, like TV watching is on the decline at the mercy of digital media. The rest is yet to come.
So, what are the implications? How do we identify the "social mediacs" in our midst and market to them? Well, as a marketer and consultant to business and the nonprofit sector, I can tell you that many businesses, organizations and nonprofits are still playing catch up in the space. Not surprising, few smaller entities have a well-planned strategy for social media or even know what that should look like. Occasionally, they’re not in tune with what should be done or they often lack the resources to get it done.
True social mediacs are quite demanding and notably impatient when it comes to service delivery. They have higher expectations and the traditional ways of doing business just aren’t going to work with them. You’ll have a loyal supporter, if you can deliver service in the way they’ve come to know. If you seek donations, then you better have a mobile platform. If you sell tickets, then forget about a printed version. Want to promote an event? Then you must have considered Facebook Ads, they offer the most robust system of all the channels. Otherwise, good luck in your first encounter, or developing one, because they will not have patience with delays and more than likely they will not have heard about your efforts in the first place.
What do these social mediacs look like? First, consider that there are over 2 billion users of Facebook. It’s where one will find the most social mediacs. According to most reports, the younger set seems to be declining in their Facebook usage, however the mediacs come in all ages and have an affinity for several different platforms.
Here are just a few clues that might be indicative of a social mediac:
Device Attachment: Being glued to the phone and allowing it to interfere in interactions with others on a frequent basis. Some will describe a feeling of comfort when their phone is within reach.
Inordinate Usage: Given that the “average user” spends about two hours a day on social media anything over that may indicate a predisposition of the social mediac type.
Anxiety: Some users will experience physical symptoms of withdrawal and anxiety when void of social media connections. While a popular advertisement shows chaos in a house when the internet is down, it may not be too exaggerated for a social mediac. In fact, a study by the International Center for Media & the Public Agenda (ICMPA) at the University of Maryland, show students suffered mood changes and a feeling of isolation when without social media for 24-hours.
In the end, Ralph Waldo Emerson spoke of “moderation in all things” and social media is no exception. Normal human interaction is vital for socialization skills to develop, so if your social media usage is beginning to interfere with that, you could be a social mediac, so take another look. It may be time to put down the phone and pick up an old relationship where it left off.
David Fry is president of Effective Advancement Strategies.