A few weeks ago a friend of mine announced that she was going to take a break from social media. She felt it was taking too much time and energy from her day. She couldn’t see its relevancy and saw the fact that she was checking her social media feeds the minute she got up in the morning to be both exhausting and the signs of true addiction. Rather than just mysteriously disappear into the offline world for a while, she felt the need to let her connections know her decision by posting it on social media.
I got where she was coming from. Social media is something I help people to understand and leverage everyday and I often want to run and hide from it too. But that’s not so easy anymore. It’s become too much a part of our lives and for someone like myself and my friend who run our own businesses, it’s not really an option. It’s social proof that our business is for real. It’s an essential part of our marketing efforts. It makes us feel that when we’re taking a break we have to announce it on social media so people don’t think something is terribly wrong. The key is to manage it so it doesn’t manage you.
The first thing you need is a strategy.
Whether it’s your business or your personal brand if you don’t want to waste time on social media, you need a strategy – something most people don’t take the time to plot. You need to determine what your short and long range goals are, who you want to reach, which social media channels make the most sense for you and what content you’re going to share. The absence of a strategy is a straight line to wasting time and questioning its relevancy as it was for my friend.
You need content.
Most people jump into social media and forget that at its core is content. They get so dizzy with the array of social channels now available that they forget that it’s all about the content. Without content you have nothing to share. That content should align with your brand’s core values – whether it’s original or curated content. Less is more is key – quality over quantity.
You need tools to manage.
It might seem like there are as many social media management tools as there are social media channels. Most have basic free options that work well for personal brands, but chances are if you have a real business or aspirations of being an influencer or thought leader, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan. My personal favorites are Meet Edgar, Crowdfire and Tweetdeck. No matter which you use, these tools allow you to lay in a base of content that you can overlay with real-time updates and then give you information as to what’s working and what’s not.
You need to be consistent.
It’s important to think of this as more of a daily practice than a one-shot campaign. Like yoga and meditation, you don’t get any better without consistent practice and even with practice some days you’ll hit a home run and others a foul ball.
You need to be human.
In its pure form social media started as a way to meet, share and connect with other humans through technology. It’s morphed into a significant media player that has given traditional channels a run for their money. But the reason they call this social still holds true – for humans to connect to other humans using technology. So post like a human. Sometimes you’ll need a break, but as with other vacations, you’ll want to plan for it.