Why taking a break from social media benefits us all
In the last few months, the majority of my consulting and training work has revolved around social media. I’ve given talks on how to rock social media, helped organizations develop and implement content plans and coached teams on how to have a singular brand voice online. Despite (or maybe because) spending so much time working in this area, I decided I needed a break from social media.
My main driver was the fact I had family out for a visit. And I wanted to be fully in the moment, enjoying the time with them, instead of thinking up content for my various social media accounts and compiling Instagram photos.
To be fair, I was still online, but only posting to my personal Facebook page, not my various business accounts. I was mainly posting pictures for friends and relatives who wanted to see some of our adventures.
So what did I learn from my two-week break?
I didn’t announce the decision to take a break (thinking who would care). I just stopped posting while I enjoyed my holiday time. So I was quite surprised when I received an email from a colleague a week into my break from social media asking if I was okay. She was concerned she hadn’t seen any Tweets from me and thought something had happened. She asked me to reply to the email to confirm I was okay.
After replying with a picture of my family at the beach (proof of life), I posted the story on my business Facebook page. And guess what? I received messages from other people who had also noticed my absence.
Some of the people who commented were friends, but others were people who follow me yet I’ve never met. I am a big believer in being authentic and a real-person online. It doesn’t mean I share photos or personal details about my family (this is off limits) but I do talk about my struggles (not just successes which is annoying) and concerns.
Through my authenticity I’m seen as a real person, not a talking head who spews out keywords and hashtags. And by not announcing I was taking a break (which I have since noticed others do), the personal connection is what resulted in the concern. After all, social media is about being social and the social connections we make online.
A break = fresh ideas
Producing what we hope is engaging content on a regular basis can be tiring, especially when you’re a one-person show. So giving yourself permission to tune out helps clear some of the cobwebs from your head, enjoy the world around you and allows room for new ideas to enter your headspace.
While I was at the beach, taking pictures with my family, I focused on what appealed to me, not my Instagram page. I had fun capturing shells my kids had collected and the way the light hit the water. When my break from social media ended, and I was going through my pictures, low and behold I found some pretty cool shots that I’ve since used on my social media accounts.
Ease back in
Although my break from social media has ended, I’m giving myself permission to ease back into it instead of jumping in with both feet. This allows be to continue to be in the moment, ruminate on some of the lessons learned during my time off and plan my content instead of posting to post.
For those of you who spend a lot of time online, when was the last time you tuned out? Were you nervous or anxious or fully enjoying the time offline? What lessons did you learn?
If you’re part of a team who contributes to social media and you don’t need to worry about posting to your corporate pages on your vacation, I would still encourage you to take a break from your personal social media accounts.
I promise you this – when you return to the online world you will do so with more energy, enthusiasm and fresh ideas. And your followers will notice.
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