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The Strategy Room

What I Learned from 40 Days of Social Silence

By: Ashley Durkin-Rixey

40 Days of Social Silence

Every day I spend time humanizing the social media profiles of our clients, writing and engaging in a carefully crafted brand voice. I take care to create a frequency of updates that grows their presence without simply recycling every relevant piece of content. I focus on platforms where their ideal audience is most engaged.

But my personal social media use? Frankly, it is a mess. I was suffering from news and “hot take” fatigue, anxiety from watching relatives argue in comment threads, and the dreaded “FOMO” from stills of lives more glamorous than mine.

Not taking my own advice

I began to see that Ashley the person rarely used the shrewd practice lessons of Ashley the PR professional. As Lent came I decided to take the time to give up my social presence for introspection on what I would recommend to my client, Ashley, on strategic social media.

Over the last 40 days, I logged out completely from my social mainstays of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The immediate effects were fantastic—my “to read” pile of books got read, I felt emboldened by friends who said they were envious of my decision to go silent, and I stopped my half-hearted multitasking.

A plan of action

I reached an epiphany around day 20 about why I had such a fraught personal relationship with social media. As someone who works with social media in their job and takes in a large amount of information as a communicator, my brain was simply too full for anything else. I was tired of information.

But as the days went on, I realized I felt disconnected a bit. I missed photos of dogs, kids, and brunches. I was out of the loop with the latest movie trailers and sports news. I realized there was a way to let my professional expertise take over my personal brand for the better and adopted some new best practices.

Each platform has a different purpose

The most effective social communication is targeted to the channel your audience prefers, rather than spreading the same message across multiple channels. If my client wants to listen to conversations and connect to a deeper knowledge community, I recommend a focus on Twitter. If they want to push events, Facebook. For my personal brand, I tend to use Twitter to track news and sports rather than engage in conversation. I put more of my own content out on Instagram because I am drawn to visual communication, so I’m concentrating my personal brand there.

Have a message

I removed all the platform applications from my phone and set timers for website browsing during my social media fast. The need to jump through a few more hoops to send whatever random thought popped into my head made me realize not all were as “shareworthy” as I believed. Now, I focus on selecting one good photo to share rather than eight and to the delight of many, I stopped live tweeting sporting events.

Forty days later I feel more prepared to manage my own social media habits with the same mindfulness I apply to my clients. But I refuse to stop sharing multiple photos of my dog. You can find him at www.instagram.com/chewieandmel.




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