Facebook’s IPO and Social Media Fatigue

social media facebookThe so-so performance of Facebook shares during its first day of trading can be chalked up to many reasons.

It may have been because the IPO was fully-valued, leaving little room for investors to dump discounted IPO shares to rapid investors.

It may have due to concerns about Facebook’s ability to drive advertising revenue in the wake of General Motor’s decision to pull $10-million of advertising. And it could have been caused by concerns about Facebook’s ability to monetize mobile users.

But here’s another possible reason – social media fatigue.

The idea struck me during a conversation last week with a friend who is social media savvy. He mentioned not using Facebook that much, his decision to drop Path (a mobile social network) and his non-use of Pinterest, the hottest thing in social media since sliced bread. The short explanation to his social media activity? A lack of time and a full social media plate.

It’s an interesting statement because social media has become such an integrated part of many peoples’ lives. We embrace and use social media without thinking about it that much. It’s just part of our personal and professional lives – much like email has long been.

But while social media is ubiquitous and used by hundreds of millions of people, it never stops coming at you. The tweets, the updates, the posts, et al keep coming, as well as new and interesting or quasi-interesting social media services.

At some point, it can start to become too much even for the most enthusiastic. At some point, many people reach their social capacity because there’s only so much time you can or should devote to social media.

While Facebook scrambles to drive more advertising revenue and tries to figure out a way to squeeze cash out of its 400 million mobile users, it also has to deal with social media fatigue.

It may not mean fewer people will join Facebook, which has become a necessity, but people may have less time for Facebook, or they’ll limit their use to staying connected and engaged with friends and family.

For all the features that Facebook rolls out, it is a completely different challenge to convince users to allocate most of their social media time to Facebook, and, at the same time, making the experience more productive and efficient.

It is important to keep in mind that social media fatigue doesn’t mean people will be less interested in social media but it does suggest there is a little appetite for social media that needs to be considered by all social media players, including Facebook.

More: For a different perspective on social media fatigue, check out Brian Solis’ recent post on the fallacy of information overload.