On Taking a Break from Social Media

Every day I counsel clients to engage with their social media of choice—so why has Aria’s twitter feed and blog been silent for most of the last five months?

As recently as last summer, I would follow a single tweet down the rabbit hole of the web keen on learning as much as I could. I did this multiple times a day, losing countless hours reading things I might not have cared about but was compelled to consume because it was available to me. The web is a feast for those who are curious and I am a glutton. Ultimately, I felt as if I wasn’t learning or posting about that information fast enough, which caused increasing panic. After months of gorging myself on information and tweeting daily, I could no longer tell which tweets were integral to my business learning and which were not. What I read was no longer making its way from short- to long-term memory, rendering the hours long forays a true waste of time.

Ironically, I continued to manage social media for several clients, creating content and interacting with their audiences, and had no “side effects” while working on their outlets. I could follow links from their industry partners and competitors for an hour or two as well, but I never felt overwhelmed by it. It was just another part of the job in these cases. When I compared that to my response to using Twitter for my own business, I realized I needed a break to detox and process.

When I gave myself the time to view it objectively, I realized that I was ignoring key advice I give to clients: Don’t let your competitiveness get in the way of your message. There is no way to ‘win’ at social media, there is only the opportunity to share with those who might be interested in your products/services. What you share should either help them with their own business, teach them something, or give them insight into what your business process/thinking is. It’s ok to take a look at what the competition is doing, but don’t feel compelled to do what they are doing if it doesn’t fit your business’ personality or message.

Most importantly, behind every social media front are people and some of those people experience information overload. Give them some time to process what you’re offering them—and take the time to process information at your own speed as well.

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Reluctant design band wagon jumper joins conversation

I’ve been keeping a secret from my friends, family and coworkers for the last eight years. No, I don’t secretly dress like J. Edgar, do heroin, or shop on QVC at 3am. Ok, I do often secretly look agog at QVC, changing the channel only when I hear someone about to enter the room, aware that they’ll judge me for simply looking at what the current loud mouthed, strangely-made man or woman is shilling. But my QVC voyeurism addiction isn’t the secret I’m talking about today. [I swear I’ll turn that into a reality tv worthy episode further down the line.]

I’m a closet blogger. Not a blogger about closets—because that would be silly. Instead, I have blogged in secrecy because I, who spend my time conjuring voices for individuals and corporations, who tell people to speak up so that their voice can be heard, who have brought many businesses kicking (and whispering) into the bright, glaring light of the new brand day, have hidden my thoughts and every-so-often brilliant (if I may say so myself) design insights for fear of open judgment by my peers. She doesn’t write enough. She writes about silly things. She writes about everyday things. She writes about things that no one notices. She writes about things that everyone notices. The pressure to come up with something to say—that refutes all of these statements—when I’m expected to do so on the world wide stage has been staggering. Until now.

What brought me to this realization? Was it the vision quest I went on inside a sweat lodge full of peyote smoke? Was it skydiving with two broken ear drums? Or perhaps it was staring at the fresh scratch in my genuine smoky chocolate topaz faux diamonique with emerald baguettes surrounded by freshwater pearls ring? Nothing as earth shattering as all of these reasons combined—although they did help.

No, I decided to join the conversation because writing about everyday things that no one notices and yet everyone notices is what design is about. Sometimes it’s just the way you spin it (or notice it in the first place) that makes for a great post. And who am I to rob the world of those insights?

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