It’s alright to take a social media break every now again

The Wall Street Journal has the latest version of a story that gets published every year or so since 2004, generally around this time of the summer, about turning off the social media firehose while you’re on vacation.

If you stop contributing, you take yourself out of the discussion. At best, followers will tweet at you to ask your whereabouts. At worst, they won’t notice you are gone.

Large, corporate brands typically have a team of employees staffing a social-media presence; when one is on vacation, others fill in.

But the most compelling social-media handles, whether a brand, a small business or a person inside a larger organization, usually are the work of one individual, with a unique personality and voice.

Yes, if you’re running a corporate account of any size but particularly if it’s for a big company, be sure to call in the bench to keep the lights on while you’re out. But keep two things in mind:

First, that it’s alright to completely unplug from social media for a couple days, a week or heck even a whole month. Take a break. Recharge. Personally I find when I don’t take those occasional breaks I start to push too hard and it comes off as uncomfortable. If the worst thing that happens is, as the article states, your Klout score drops a few points at the expense of focusing on yourself and your family, you’re actually coming out ahead in the bargain.

Second, don’t just have a bench; have a team. A program that’s reliant on a single person is one that’s setup for all sorts of problems. I realize the dynamics are different for small business like the food trucks that are mentioned here but there should still be a backup plan in place.

Both those are lessons I’ve learned from personal experience. And again, I realize the situation is a bit different if your personal profile, which you may still want to update while away from work, is deeply tied to your work or professional responsibilities. But it’s important to know where those lines are and – and this is the important part – set audience expectations accordingly. Let people know that you’ll be out and may still be updating but may not have the time to reply or interact as much as usual. It’s so simple (and it works) but the control-freak types who often are in charge of these types of programs or profiles understandably have a hard time saying that out loud.

Unplugging is good for the body, the mind and the soul.