I haven’t posted any new blogs over the past couple of weeks. Honestly, it has been so busy and hectic at my day job, that even the thought of putting effort into coming up with topic ideas that would be helpful or at least interesting or funny was too exhausting to face.
Needless to say, I have not been feeling particularly keen to interact with any of my social media platforms either. So there haven’t been many tweets or posts that weren’t pre-scheduled or run through an automatic feed.
It was interesting to me that in addition to feeling like blogging and tweeting were just too much for me, I was compounding the negativity by adding feelings of guilt and pressure, and also a fear that I might lose followers or disappoint subscribers to my blog because I was not being ‘consistent’, ‘regularly adding new content’ and all the other things we are supposed to do to be successful in this virtual world of social media and social networking.
It felt like a classic case of burnout, which caused me to Google “social media burnout” just to see if anyone else had ever experienced burn out on social media and social networking.
As it turns out lots of people have had it, blogged about it, recovered from it, had it again etc. I will admit that it was generally people who engage on social media a lot more than I do, but even so, what it showed me (and this probably will be obvious to the rest of you) was that social media is just like everything else. You have to engage it in such a way as to fit it naturally in your life, whatever that means to you and you alone, or you will get exhausted by it, start to avoid it and ultimately come to hate it.
Social media and social networking are fantastic tools that lawyers can use to cultivate and stay in touch with their networks and also build their profile. But just like doing too many speaking engagements, having too many interviews with the press in any given week, going to too many networking events etc. it will burn you out.
In order to be able to sustain it, which is the only way it will be a useful tool, I am going to have to take a measured, slow and steady and tailored approach to it. There are millions of people who can spend much more time at it than I can before reaching their burnout point, but there are millions of people who can do lots of things more than I can before burning out on them. I have to gauge my engagement by what works for me and if that is less that some and more than others, that is to be expected. But if I judge myself based on what other people can or can’t do, I really will start to hate it.
Having now experimented a bit with this, one of the things I plan to do going forward is to make sure that I take some time at intervals, and when life is in a slower phase, to write a bunch of blogs, bank them and schedule them for posting over time. When I was doing that regularly my blogs were going up and being fed into my social media regularly and it was fun. When I started to have to write them to meet a schedule, it got much harder, much less fun and eventually I just stopped.
Similarly, having some automatic feeds that post different things into my social media automatically takes the pressure off having to be on top of all my platforms all the time.
Finally, I’m going to pick a couple of social media platforms to focus on and let the others slide a bit. In particular, I’m going to be spending more time on Google+ and less time on some of the others going forward because I am really finding that I get a lot more engagement, and meet a lot more people on G+ than I do on any of the other platforms (more on that in another post).
I encourage all of you to think of your social media and social networking the same way you do everything else. Sometimes you get burnt out and need a vacation from it and that is OK. No one is going to expel you from the internet because you need a couple of weeks, or even many weeks, of time away from your virtual network to recharge and engage more with the rest of your life. Any detrimental impact on your followers or your SEO will be quickly recovered when you come back to it. The downside, as it turns out, is pretty tiny.