Did you take a Social Media break? Over the festive period, you may well have taken the opportunity to have a bit of a digital detox. It’s the time of year many people tend to focus on the family in front of us rather than our online connections. As a social media agency, we took a large, unexpected break from our own platforms! We didn’t detox all together, we were still working for our clients…….. but we did stop creating content for over a month.
Here are 10 helpful things we learned for a daring Social Media Break:
1) Social Media platforms change fast!
Ok, so no surprise here! We already knew this. But it’s more noticeable when you take a break. For example, in the short time we stopped engaging on Instagram they introduced:
- This where you can create highlights out of groups of stories you’ve shared. When you create a highlight it lives under your profile beneath your bio. Here you can feature stories, images or videos that you’ve already posted. Then, you can choose the cover image (important to choose the right one to draw people in!) and name it accordingly!
- before, your Instagram stories disappeared within 24 hours. Now they save in private to your archive.
Join Live Requests:
- This feature can be valuable depending on how you use it. If you are hosting a Q&A you can encourage interested viewers to request to join to come on and ask their question live.
New DM features:
- Instagram has made direct messaging more fun with the ability to remix photos. You can reply to your friend’s image, add it as a sticker to your own picture and resize it, draw on it, and more.
Phew, that’s JUST Instagram! It highlights that to be effective on social media you have to keep up to date with platform changes, and as a consequence adjust your strategy.
2) Social media for us is about a genuine interaction and building relationships.
We reaffirmed that social media is all about engagement and connection. Sure, we could have pushed out a few of our posts that we had prepared ahead of time, but we knew we didn’t have the proper time to be active. We didn’t want to post and run without replying to comments or connecting with other people. After all, that to us is the point of social media!
Stop the scroll and don’t be passive about your social media use; it won’t achieve any results.
3) Scheduling tools are essential
We’re a small digital marketing agency. So, we had to take an unexpected break when Rebecca had an illness in the family. Time spent visiting hospitals meant something had to give, we had to admit we couldn’t do it all. Where social media’s concerned we had to prioritise our clients first. We’re a Sprout Social agency partner, so it’s no surprise we use their fantastic, one-stop, social media management tool.
Having Sprout Social saves us so much time. Our team can plan, schedule and post messages across networks from a single platform. The message approval means content can be delegated and checked before scheduling. Being able to use the calendar to visualise where there were gaps was useful. Having a mobile app to check in on the go was a life saver!
Without the ability to schedule client content in one place we would not have succeeded.
4) We were MORE productive
Before our break we already practised good social media habits:
- we don’t have notifications turned on our devices
- we have turned off all the email notifications that are on by default
- we have set time blocks in a day when we check inboxes and engage
- we (usually) plan content at least a month in advance
- we’ve blocked our private newsfeed for Facebook on the desktop. This ensures we won’t get drawn into watching endless puppy videos!
- we don’t have social media pages open on our desktop tabs to draw our focus away.
However, we had to get strict with ourselves to conserve energy. So that meant no reaching for our phones first thing to check social media! This brought a less frantic start to the day and stopped the passive scroll! It gave us the gift of time in the morning and a much-needed calmer start to the day allowed us to focus on priorities.
5) If you want social media to succeed for you then you need to have a plan.
Having a social media plan for our clients meant we weren’t posting at random when we had time. We had already set social media goals and had a roadmap. We knew what variety of content we wanted to post for each client. We’d already done our homework and researched the best time to post for each clients’ audience. So, we didn’t have to think up content on a daily basis.
During this difficult time, we continued to succeed in hitting goals for our clients. This is because we already had a plan in place!
6) You need to get ahead of your schedule, like really ahead!
Up until the end of August, we had our own agency content planned and scheduled about a month ahead. It’s vital for us to stay one step ahead in an industry that changes so quickly! In planning out core content ahead of it still left us time to adapt posts based on platform updates or trends. We were able to replace or reschedule posts on short notice if it was strategic to do so. It also gave us the opportunity to ensure we had a variety of content and not just promotional.
Oh, and it reduced our daily stress and freed up more time for engagement!
Usually, a month meant we had a plan far enough ahead that each post was well thought out and strategic. We soon learned to be a month ahead was not enough! Sure, we’d planned in some contingency time but we hadn’t planned for the unexpected! Our new year’s resolution is to at least have our content planned out for the quarter. Even if we haven’t scheduled or created 3 months worth of posts it will make it much easier to delegate or stay on track.
7) We’re right not to focus on social media as our only marketing channel
Yet, in spite of our absence, we still continued to gain leads and new clients for social media management. How did we do this? We have a diverse marketing strategy in place that doesn’t rely on social media alone. Think here of the old saying “Putting all your eggs in one basket”. It’s a recipe for disaster.
Our strategy has our website as the foundation that we build upon and drive people to. We know that we don’t own the social media platforms that we utilise, and they can change out of our control. Social media platforms have complete control of what our audience can see and do. Plus, not everyone is on social media, so you limit your audience.
Social media is a powerful tool for us but it’s not our only tool! We had a break from engaging on social media but there were elements of our marketing mix that were active. Here are some examples;
- we delivered some workshops on social media
- we took part in networking events
- people came to us as referrals
- we still sent out targeted emails.
Most importantly we were focusing our energy on keeping our customers happy! Acquiring a new customer is anywhere from 5 – 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.
8) We didn’t miss facebook
Facebook: when you were young and your algorithm hadn’t killed organic reach, we were mad for you! Now, we have to “pay to play” with you. We admit your ads do allow for fantastic targeting and that makes us choose not to end our relationship. But, we don’t enjoy spending time with you as we once did. When we took a social media break from you we were free from the daily reminder of just how much better everyone was doing at life! You’ve become a highlight reel and a magnifying glass on all the ways we are falling short!
It’s not just us who have fallen out of love for Facebook:. Andrea Vahl, is recommending businesses put less effort into their Facebook pages. Andrea, co-authored the book Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies. She advises “if you’re going to use Facebook for business in 2018, focus on video, groups, and ads. Don’t expect your facebook page to drive organic growth.”
9) We missed Instagram
It’s not escaped, us the irony here, with Instagram owned by Facebook! But, there’s a different vibe on Instagram. 80% of users follow at least one business on Instagram. Individuals are more open-minded about interacting with brands than on Facebook. Instagram provides us with more opportunity to find people with similar interests. (30 hashtags available for each post makes this easy!)
To us, Instagram feels more welcoming and we love engaging with the community. We love that it challenges our creativity with its visual nature. We’re thankful that it provides us with a constant source of inspiration.
10) It’s ok to take a break
The world did not stop turning, the sun did not stop shining, and our business did not collapse when we took a social media break. We may have lost a handful of Instagram followers but they weren’t users who were likely to engage with us.
Digital connectivity tools can improve efficiency and ease of communication. What matters is how they are understood, used and managed. Social media offers more ways than ever to ‘go live’. We no longer have to share our experiences with others in the past tense. It’s not a case of uploading our holiday snaps from last week. Instead, we share our every moment instantaneously in a continuously unfolding now. We have somehow become compelled to document life rather than living it. The most valuable thing you can give someone or something is your attention.
Offline is the new luxury. It is pleasant, rare and hard to get. Some people deliberately attempt to go “off grid” to achieve this. There are many authors who in the past have taken flights just to be able to write free from distractions. But, even now you can achieve an internet connection on a plane! There is a growing trend in people seeking holidays that are also “offline”. The Welsh House gets booked because of its lack of mobile and Wifi connectivity.
It’s ok to take social media break if needed. If overwhelmed, or lacking in creativity for content, switching off can clear the mind. You’ll come back with energy and fresh ideas making your social media content better. When you return, there is, of course, the perfect hashtag for you: #offlineisthenewluxury