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Published May 30th 2012

Take a Break From Social Media

It’s true, chocolate solves everything, even social media burnout.

It’s funny to consider that it really wasn’t long ago when we were using landlines to arrange meetings, faxed each other documents and spoke our thoughts aloud, rather than posting them to Twitter.

The fact is that social networks have now become an essential part of our lives. The way we communicate has changed forever.

Talks and events are no-longer just one-way monologues, and everything from TV to conferences is always accompanied with a background of documented real-time chatter.

Those who do not join in are in danger of missing the real debate. Even at parties you’re no longer simply a guest. The role of the reporter has been blurred with the citizen, and sites like Facebook have cleared up any ambiguity (and spontaneity) with regard to events.

Those in the West are now always online, always informed and always multitasking.

As we’ve considered countless times before on this very blog, the rise of social media is all very exciting and innovative. However, this new world has a dark side: many of the digital generation suffer from the stress of constant information overload.

Early this year the term “social media burnout” was coined during Social Media Week in Hamburg. Psychologist Heiko Schulz of Techniker Krankenkasse did say that this has not yet been recorded in studies and therefore the scientific evidence remains anecdotal.

However, the evidence is mounting that suggests that the waves generated by the stress of incessant social interaction, coupled with the constant availability and the blurring of boundaries between work and private life, have caused social fatigue for many.

One survey, carried out in China, Singapore and the U.S. showed that over half of all 19 to 26-year-olds find it both time-consuming and stressful to meet social media obligations.

And now to the real question: how can a chocolate bar remedy this problem? Kit Kat believes they have the answer, with their ‘Have a Social Break’ campaign, a play on their famous ‘take a break’ slogan.

As part of the recently-launched campaign, the chocolate manufacturer has developed a desktop widget that users can synchronise with their Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles.

Upon installation, the widget goes to work, entirely automatically. Any post on Facebook the user is mentioned in, the widget will like it straight away; the central idea clearly being to manage the hassle of social media etiquette for those suffering from the burnout. The widget will also randomly retweet, reply and share on Twitter and LinkedIn to give the impression of activity.

There are also sliders to allow the users to create rules, stipulating the frequency of sharing, which seems like a more authentic way of using the tool.

The Adobe Air-based app is available for Mac and Windows.

Our conclusion: this campaign from Kit Kat is a creative and fun approach that has viral potential and perfectly fits the brand, whilst also creating awareness for a fairly serious subject.

In practical use however, you should certainly exercise caution. It might alleviate a bit of the strain upon social media sufferers, but it’s never going to be appropriate for wholesale online management. You can’t beat the personal touch.

Therefore our advice is to dip in and out of social media, using this (or other) apps to help you out when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

There’s no real alternative to the big boy stuff though: social media monitoring tools like Brandwatch are the only way to truly keep on top of your social presence, especially if you’re a burgeoning business.

Remember: every once in a while, even in today’s environment, it’s perfectly ok to take a break. Enjoy it.

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