If you’re an astute Writerland reader, you noticed that I took a break from social media over the holidays. I didn’t blog, I didn’t tweet, I didn’t Facebook or Google+ or pin. I played Angry Birds (the board game, not the iPhone app), Rush Hour, and Munchkin, I solved the Perplexus Rookie (anyone want to buy me the Epic for my birthday?), I sang Christmas carols (and then had to listen to my 5-yr-old son sing Hark the Herald Angels sing on loop for two hours one morning), I went rock climbing, slack lining, ice skating, and did lots of hiking. I found several geocaches (I’m getting addicted to geocaching and am saving all my kids’ leftover party favors to do trades), I finished season two of Damages (I can’t get enough of that show!), I read my friend Laura Davis’s wonderful new novel about human trafficking and generally partook in holiday merriment. WOW, you’re thinking. I blogged and tweeted through the holidays, and I’m exhausted. I want to take a break, too! You can! You can! Read on …
Something we don’t talk about very often in the world of online networking is the importance of taking a break. We hear a lot about the value of posting to our blogs, Facebook and Google+ pages, and Twitter accounts frequently and consistently. We read about the necessity of blogging on a schedule. The most successful bloggers will tell you they “have never missed a scheduled post.” But what few people talk about is the importance of setting your social media tools down and putting your feet up, of taking a vacation from your online life the same way you take a break from your professional life for a couple weeks every year. (For those of you thinking, “But social media is fun; it’s not work,” you’re probably using it for recreational purposes. Those of us who use social media as professional and marketing tools eventually tire of it, and the best way to avoid burnout is to take periodic breaks. Here are a few tips for doing so:
1. Announce your scheduled break.
Don’t feel guilty about it. Just tell the world, “I’m going to be offline for the next two weeks while I sunbathe in the Caribbean/watch every episode of Battlestar Galactica/clean out my attic.” It’s better to announce your break ahead of time than to disappear from the Internet without warning. And don’t apologize for your absence when you return. Just jump right back in. Most people won’t even notice.
2. Preschedule posts.
Another method of taking a break is to write extra posts before you go offline and schedule them to post while you’re gone. The problems with this method are: a) It doesn’t feel like much of a break if you have to write double the number of posts before you leave and b) Your readers/followers may wonder why you’re not responding to comments if they think you’re posting live. Only take this route if writing extra posts is not going to be an extra burden, and be sure to let your followers know that you’re going to be on the beach drinking margaritas and will respond to comments when you return.
3. Host guest bloggers.
In order to keep your blog posts consistent without taking on the burden of writing extra posts while you’re gone, you may want to host guest bloggers and preschedule their posts before your break. Again, be sure to let your followers know that you will be offline for the duration of your break.
4. Repost old posts.
Many of our best posts get buried beneath newer content. Social media breaks are the perfect time to repost a “Best of” series, which you can preschedule before you hop on that plane. Just remember to let your followers know how long you’ll be gone and when to expect you back.
How about you? Do you ever take breaks from your online life? What has your experience been?