Social media: why silence can be golden
Social media. We all have it, do it, use it, love it and hate it in varying degrees. It has undeniably changed the way we do business. But sometimes, enough can be enough.
Much of the advice about how to leverage the power of social media for business revolves around frequency and consistency, which is sound advice for those seeking to rapidly establish and grow an audience. And yet lately, I’ve noticed an interesting paradox emerging.
Like many people, I follow a number of Instagram accounts that pump out a consistently high volume of content, with once-daily posts at a bare minimum. Some are such prolific posters they’re almost guaranteed to show up in your feed every time you check it.
But recently, a few of these accounts went quiet, I suspect because the people behind them were a little burnt out. Posting every single day can do that to a person!
"Overfeeding makes it very hard for us to savour your message."
Here’s where the paradox kicks in: when they went quiet, I didn’t forget about them. I thought about them more. I wondered why the silence. I pondered what they were up to. And then, when they did finally re-emerge, I was far more interested in their content than I had been in a long time.
As a social media consumer, I offer up a thought for the creators: don’t overfeed us. Overfeeding makes it very hard for us to savour your message. Inject a little more rarity into your content, and guess what? Your posts become more special. I pay more attention. My thumb is more likely to stop, my eyes more likely to read, my mind more likely to engage.
But what does this mean if you’re one of the aforementioned prolific social media creators? As Grace Bonney, entrepreneur, author and founder of Design*Sponge, discovered recently – it means the social media shackles are safe to come off.
In an interview with Marie Forleo, Grace explained that when a health crisis forced her to take more than a month off work, she had to cut back on her social media posting. As someone who admitted to “obsessively posting on social”, with a following nudging two million to prove it, this was a big change.
Yet she came to realise that if she wasn’t able to post on Instagram every day, it was really no big deal. So she backed off a bit. The result?
“It was a great lesson that nothing happened,” said Grace. “It was fine. Life went on. No one was angry at me. When I did come back, people were more excited to check in because I had been gone for a bit.”
She sums it up by saying, “Your audience loves you and wants to hear from you, but they’re not going to be so demanding and expectant of your time. “
We seem to fear silence. In conversation, if there’s silence, we try and fill it. Silence is equated with awkwardness. But sometimes, silence is where the magic and the power lie.
So my message is simply this: if you’re having a crisis at work and you’re too busy to post, it’s ok.
If you’re having a hard time at home and you’re too busy to post, don’t stress.
If you’re just having one of those weeks where things feel a little flat and the inspiration for strong, value-adding posts won’t come, I give you permission to log out and try again next week.
Not only will it be ok, you may even find that by getting off your tribe’s radar for a little bit, they embrace you even more when you return. Because with social media – just like fashion, interiors and food – sometimes less really is more.
Have you ever taken a social media break and been surprised at how little it affected things?