Learning How to Let Go: Social Media Blackout Results

For my closing post in the series about the results of my 100 day social media blackout, I’d like to talk about one of the best side effects of this experiment. And that is? Learning how to let go.

As I mentioned in an earlier post this week, I talked about how I was hypersensitive to people using exaggerated personas on social media to sell their books. Today, I’d like to point out that you, too, may be hypersensitive to things online in the form of comments, articles and headlines.

In the grand scheme of things, what is a bad comment worth to your life? Your business? Would you let a crappy review ruin your day? How ’bout a headline that you never clicked through?

Forums, mailing lists, comments, etc. are going to incur negative comments along with positive ones. The more popular you are, the bigger your business is, the chances of less-than-ideal comments increase. It’s not necessarily a sign of progress, it’s a sign that you’ve attracted the other end of the bell curve.

Having worked with as much data as I have, I normally don’t care about the one comment because I treat them as outliers. What I look for are patterns as opposed to the one-off snarky remark. Yes, I’m human — not an android — so comments made by people who obviously didn’t read through an article or have a knee jerk reaction based on a crappy assumption get under my skin.

But not as much as before.

I now feel that a good social media strategy — whether it be personal or professional — needs to include periods of black out or times when the social media/community manager is not online. The idea of constant connectivity and notifications might sound like it’d benefit you, but after this experiment I’m finding that it will actually hurt you over the long haul. Why? Simply because you run the risk of overreacting the more connected you are. You become, as I did with personas or as others have with comments, hyper-reactive.

The consequences of being hyper-reactive aren’t always good. Sometimes, people feel creeped out if they make a complaint and you’ve magically commented on their Twitter feed or Facebook page. Other times, it’s “expected” that you do. Other times, your comment may come across as talking down to that person or be overly sarcastic.

The other toll that this takes on you, may be in your writing. Timing is important to social media, but for articles? That aren’t ephemeral? It can really chip into the way your prose flows on the page and what words you use. This is especially true if you “trick for a click.”

I’ve often mentioned to companies and individuals that the best way to manage expectations is to have a social media or community policy. I cannot stress enough how important this is for everyone involved in a social media profile. I cannot. If someone is obligated to log in offline or respond to something twenty-four seven — that needs to be clearly stated because the other side of that? Is that monitoring also comes into play and that takes time. Perceptions can ruin relationships, so having these things in place before disaster strikes can help facilitate better discussions and positive expectations.

For many reasons, if anything this experiment has taught me that there is value in being offline. Like anything, having a good perspective requires balance and the ability to let the small stuff go. Without that, well… that’s when you may find yourself as frustrated with the tools as I was.

Hope you enjoyed the coverage of this experiment and the results.



Monica Valentinelli is a writer, editor, and game developer. Her portfolio includes stories, games, comics, essays, and pop culture books.

In addition to her own worlds, she has worked on a number of different properties including Firefly, Vampire: the Masquerade, Shadowrun, Hunter: the Vigil, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan.

Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore and game store near you.

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