Why Taking a Break from Social Will Make You a Better Marketer

Why Taking a Break from Social Will Make You a Better Marketer
By Megan Brown

Even if you don’t “like” social media, you’re constantly plugged in as a marketer. One hundred and forty characters will, more often than not, tell you far more about an audience, brand, trending news topic or event than a 1400 word report—and does it so much more efficiently.

The breakdown happens when marketers rely too heavily on social and therefore are unable to filter out what really matters and use these powerful tools effectively.How much is too much?  As a social media strategist, I admit: I often find myself in a vicious cycle of checking for updates. How bad is it? I tracked myself. In the span of an hour, I checked Facebook, Instagram, three Twitter accounts, two teams’ baseball box scores and a Facebook page—at least 38 times EACH.

Yes, social media is 24/7. However, that doesn’t mean it will benefit you to be on it 24/7. This might seem obvious to you, but I meet so many marketers and community managers who—while checking their phones throughout our conversation—admit that they are unable to determine how and when the right time is to “take a break.”

You Don’t Need Social Media Rehab  

At the other end of the spectrum, you are doing nothing wrong by being aware of social on a daily basis.I’ve seen a lot of articles about social media “detoxes”, ranging from people completely removing themselves from social media to others just ignoring engagement signals on their personal accounts for a month.

Some authors expected us to feel bad for them for not being able to post on social, which created more polarizing emotions than empathizing feelings on my end. Others described their experience as “liberating.” One detoxer even detailed that “removing the distraction of social media released the pressure on my creativity and my work flowed.”

Regardless of your personal feelings about social, there is no need to completely alienate yourself or desert your brand’s followers or fans—especially their wants or needs. This is social media, not solo media. It isn’t all about you. In fact, missing 30 days on social media as a marketer can often be more harmful than helpful.

However, putting several breaks from social into your daily routine will help you become a better marketer and a more sane person.

Make It & Break It  

The first step is admitting you have a problem. The second is defining exactly what that problem is. This will help you decide what your breaks are, when they occur and how often they should occur.

Maybe your problem isn’t just social media; maybe it extends to apps, email and text messages. Your poor phone must take a lot of abuse throughout the day. Include these things in your break.

If you aren’t sure where your problem area is, turn every device off for an hour, and see what you check first after powering up. Chances are before that hour is up, your fingers are itching to turn your phone back on to see if anyone has texted you.

Once you know what the problem is, you’ll know where your problem stems from and can design an effective break. I recommend taking several breaks a day, so completely turning off every device may not be such a great idea if you’re at work (unless you have the kind of job where you can take an hour off). If you can’t, turning off your phone for an hour and closing all social tabs will suffice.

Plan out these breaks. Each break should be an hour long and you should schedule them three times a day. They don’t have to be at the same time every day, and you can plan them so it’s easier to not give in to seeing if anyone liked the Instagram photo of your breakfast.

I recommend these times:

  • Mid-morning – Maybe while you’re in a meeting.
  • Late afternoon – When you’re trying to wrap up for the day or feeling that post-lunch sleepiness coming on and need to refocus.
  • After work/when you’re at home – This break can be longer than an hour and plan it when you have something to do, whether it’s dinner with a friend or reading a book.
The reason I recommend in having something else to do is so that:

  • -You’re less likely to give in to account-checking temptation.
  • -You can focus your full attention on the task at hand or person in front of you.
  • -You get used to these breaks and, for the social accounts not integral to your job, you can take longer and longer breaks.
There’s no need to enforce these upon yourself with an iron fist. If you can’t do the full hour at first, try three 30 minute breaks. If you can only take two breaks, take two. The point is for it to be relaxing and refocusing, not stress you out even more.

Breaks Make You Better  

These social media breaks have the holistic benefit of giving you a (at least partial) break from the constant stream of crazy in the digital world, but they also benefit you as a marketer.

  • -Taking a break allows you to prioritize. If after your break, you see no new updates or a lot of changes, you can filter out who you follow or even the need to check certain social networks as often. It makes you decide what’s truly important to “catch up on.”
  • -It allows you to refocus. Screen overload can distract us from the task at hand. The barrage of information can actually interrupt trains of thought. Turning off or taking periodic breaks allows you to recenter or finish up tasks at hand—and also will give you more time to spend on these social networks later.
  • -It gives you the chance to seek information in other ways.
  • -It forces you to communicate in person.
Megan Brown is the social media strategist at iAcquire, a digital marketing firm based in NYC and Phoenix. You can find her on Twitter (@thatgirlmegan or @thatgirlondeck) as well as tweeting on behalf of @iAcquire.