A Pittsburgh-area pastor made the news yesterday by asking his congregation to take three or four days off from social media as a sort of fast during the Lenten season. Now I love social media, and I know how hard it can be to disconnect, so trying to take a bit of time off makes sense. Plus, it is a good idea to unplug every now and then. But maintaining a social presence for your business is very different than logging onto Facebook to chat with your friends. While it is still important for you, or your social media manager, to occasionally step away from being online you can't simply ignore your company's social networks altogether. So if you do want to take a quick vacation from the likes of Twitter and Facebook, but know you cannot go completely dark, here are a few ways to make the most of the semi-fast.
Unplug as much as you can
Unless you decide to use a three-day weekend to completely shut out the internet, you probably won't be able to simply stop using social media. People follow your business's social media profiles for a reason, and shutting everything down completely will alienate your followers. If you are not able to step all the way away, just make sure you aren't spending hours upon hours working on things meant to bolster your company's social presence. Line up some guest blog posts, plug what needs to be plugged, and get the heck out of there. Otherwise you'll soon find yourself glued to the computer screen, constantly refreshing your feeds and waiting for updates.
Figure out what else needs your attention
If, as a business owner, you spend the majority of your time maintaining the various social networks your business has a profile on, chances are something in real life may have slipped under your radar - a small problem with an employee, or a customer complaint. While, on their own, these issues aren't a big deal, they could be indicative of a wider, growing problem. Use your newfound free time to poke around the office and see how everything is going. Or, if you have a social media manager, encourage them to do that. Some problems can even be addressed using when the fast is over - social networks lend themselves well to customer service, and while that shouldn't be their sole use, there is nothing wrong with reaching out to your customers if they've recently had a negative experience.
When it's all over, review your social presence with fresh eyes
Running a business's social networks is done with a very specific purpose in mind - to bring customers to your company. ROI is important, but after awhile it becomes difficult see the forest for the trees. It all blends together, and suddenly you're trying to maintain way too many outlets, or ones that are completely wrong for your industry, simply so you can feel as though you're doing as much as you possibly can and saturating every platform with your brand's name to create a presence. After the mini-fast, look at your social media campaign objectively, and determine whether or not you like what you see. Social networks and blogs do lose users and readers, so if your customers have moved on, why haven't you? Take a look around, do a bit of spring cleaning, and then jump in with a clear head.
It won't be easy, but with a little dedication it is possible to go cold turkey and stop using social media. And, when you stop monitoring your personal feeds, cutting down the amount of time you spend on your business's feeds will be much easier. However, as with all things when it comes to running a business, the last thing you want to do is waste time. So use your time off as best you can so that, when you come back, your business's social presence will be better than ever.