Should PR pros scale back their social media time?

Online tools have helped PR pros do more with less, reach new audiences and engage with far-flung constituents. Yet, when it comes to social media, has it all become too much?

Is it time for you to “take a break from social media?”

While it might not be entirely realistic for today’s marketer, there are some ways doing less could actually help you produce more content.

The “take a break” comment came first from Dave Cieslewicz, former mayor of my hometown, Madison, Wisconsin. After his stint as mayor, Dave has become a regular blogger in Madison’s weekly newspaper, the Isthmus .

Dave urges his readers to declare dependence. “Take a break from social media,” he said. “You might like it.”

Life is Better

In the article, Dave (and I’m going to refer to him as such because it’s a bear to spell Cieslewicz correctly multiple times in one article) wrote about taking a hiatus in the summer of 2016.

He chose to stop publishing for a month, and take a break from Facebook and Twitter.

The timing coincided with Donald Trump’s securing of the Republican nomination, which was a contributing factor in Dave’s disdain for social media at that point:

One of my reasons for taking a break from social media was that Trump had used it so effectively. Part of me thought that was unfair, a little like blaming the megaphone at a skinhead rally.

A great line, regardless of your affiliation. But Dave then went on to reveal some profound revelations from his experiment:

After a few weeks, I went back to consuming news and writing. But in almost two years, I have never gone back to Facebook or Twitter. And life is better.

He wrote about the fact that his regular check-in on these platforms a few times a day was adding up, and he was beginning to burn serious reserves of energy simply in the give and take that is social media.

He concluded:

You would be surprised how much mental space gets freed up when you drop out.

Can content creators tune out?

This is a luxury few content marketers can afford, since part of what makes content effective is your ability to promote it.

Pundits such as Andy Crestodina and Gini Dietrich will tell you that without promotion, your blog post goes nowhere—or more accurately, gets read by no one.

Content creators must be on social media. However, maybe it’s not you who has to be active.

Even with the huge proliferation of content on the web these days, the bulk of it is produced by a small number of people—known as the one percent rule (only one percent of users of the internet actively create new content).

Mayor Dave is a content producer. I’m a content producer. However, producing content is different than engaging on social media. It’s about mindset.

Consider your frame of mind when you’re engaging in the following activities:

1. Answering email: Quick bursts of content—responding and explaining.

2. Conducting a sales pitch or attending a networking event: Conversation, verbal give and take.

3. Engaging on social media: Like email, but even faster bursts.

4. Creating blog posts/articles/video scripts: Longer sustained times of thought and writing.

These bullet points are what separate true content producers. It’s way too easy to get caught up in activities the first three because they’re easier. Number four is hard work. Yet, it’s that hard work that separates the winners from the losers, especially in the eyes of Google.

Engaging authentically

Content marketers must engage in social media to have authentic conversations, but that negatively affects your ability as a content producer.

As Mayor Dave explained:

… modern life is bombarding us with a Niagara Falls of instant analyses, crude insults (as opposed to skillful ones), and a cascade of first impressions that never have time to grow into second thoughts.

It’s a resource game. You need time to grow your own “second thoughts.”

To do this, you could go cold turkey like Dave, but if you don’t have the resources to pull it off, here are some other suggestions:

  • Hire someone to handle your social media and email . If possible, offload tiresome, repetitive tasks. You’ll make money by producing content, so you can spend money to make money.
  • Compartmentalize your time. If you can’t afford to hire someone, then realign your schedule. Become disciplined and set time aside to create content—every day. You know that’s what it takes, and you know you have no excuse for not doing it.
  • Write first . This is more about your mindset as a content creator. You must commit to content. It’s kind of like investing, where you pay yourself first. Write your content first. Always.

Greg Mischio is the Owner and Strategic Director of “Winbound”, a content marketing firm. A version of this article originally ran on the Spin Sucks blog.

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