How Much Social is Too Social?

I’ve been getting a lot of questions in my seminars lately from participants who are overwhelmed by the number of options available for social media tools.

LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are known as "the big three," but there are plenty of others out there that could be related to the specific business that you're running. But how many of them do you run at the same time? And how much is the time worth that you're expending to actually use these social media sites?

At Avelient, using all these tools make sense because we're all sitting in front of computers anywhere between 50 and 100% of our work week (and very often during "down times," if there is such a thing anymore), and even when we're not physically in front of our computers we're still connected via our smartphones. It's to the point where I definitely feel hyper-connected sometimes, and can't move without feeling I have to tweet about it.

Getting Perspective

At least...that's how I felt. When I went to Italy this past summer for our family vacation, I was forced to sever connections to all of this stuff, just because it was too challenging to keep it up. I couldn't just go anywhere and be connected, and I didn't feel it was worth the expense (or the risk) to jailbreak my phone, get a new international SIM card, and pay extra fees just so I could check in to foursquare from the piazza.

The first few days were tough, and I was definitely twitching to tweet. But as the days passed, I found myself getting accustomed to not being connected all the time and kind of liked it.

When I returned my involvement in my social media tools, the very ones I had touted as important tools for any modern business, was not only tempered; it was non-existent. I didn't check in on Foursquare and Gowalla anymore, my Facebook updates were underwhelming, and Twitter had become an afterthought.

I was suffering from Social Media burnout.

I think a lot of people suffer from this at some point during their social media campaigns. The desire to be disconnected for a little while, to hear only your own thoughts, to get perspective and remember why you do things the way you do.

Unplugging, plugging in

Of course, I realize that having a social media strategy is important for any business, and it is still one of the best ways to build both credibility and community around your brand. However, it's okay to occasionally "unplug", reconnect with the people around you and not stress that you're going to miss an opportunity; the people who want a response from you have ways to get your attention on all of these social media outlets. So how can you do it? Here are some suggestions:

  • Schedule "Social Media" time - Set times during the week that you're going to focus primarily on your blog, your Facebook page, your Twitter account or whatever you use to connect with your community. Setting the time aside allows you to mentally prepare yourself and call on the creative juices you need to be creative and insightful. Don't do anything else during this time; focus on being social and interaction.
  • Schedule automated tweets - Sometimes the best time to reach the people following you isn't the most convenient time for you. Use a tool like Hootsuite to schedule posts to your Facebook page or Tweets. You can use it to announce events, new releases, projects, or links that you think will be useful to a bunch of people. Keep in mind that scheduling these interactions should augment, and not replace, your interaction with community.
  • Schedule time off - Schedule time that's yours, that you will put the phone down...PUT THE PHONE DOWN...and not update statuses. Ideally, try multiple days, like every weekend. These sites are public, ongoing conversations, and you will ALWAYS miss something. Is it something that's going to be detrimental to your business or personal life? No. You can't listen to every conversation at a party, concert or the water cooler, so don't try. Join when you can, relax when you can't.

What do you do to avoid Social Media burnout? What advice can you give others?

Written by Mariano Di Fabio on November 7th, 2010

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