We’ve heard it for years. “There are just too many social networks to keep up with them all.” It seems like every six weeks there is a new network, or an update to an existing one, that takes time and effort to learn and get used to. Earlier this year, I felt this pain. With personal and professional community management responsibilities for Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, Yammer, YouTube, Flickr, Google+, and my blog, I felt overwhelmed (unmotivated, at times) to give my accounts the attention they needed. I was able to work my way out of the rut by finding software that helped me aggregate and automate some of my interactions, taking breaks from social networks, and establishing some personal usage rules. Here are a few things you can do when dealing with social media burnout.
1. Find a management tool
During the first onset of social media fatigue, I went out and found myself some third-party applications to help me monitor and interact with each of my accounts all in one spot. There are plenty of capable apps out there, ranging from TweetDeck, Seesmic, Co-Tweet, Hootsuite, SocialOomph, Ping.fm, etc. I now find myself using a freemium version of Hootsuite with some added help from Ping.fm. What I really love about these tools is the ability to shorten links, track links, schedule messages, and manage all your networks all from one interface. The strengths and weaknesses are unique to each tool. For example, if I need better push alerts for monitoring, then I open my TweetDeck. Although I’m usually able to fulfil most of my social media needs using Hootsuite for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Yammer, Foursquare, and WordPress.
When choosing your management tool, it’s a good idea to find one that has a solid mobile version so you can take it with you. I like using the individual apps for each network on my smartphone, but the mobile versions of tools such as TweetDeck and Hootsuite definitely offer a more robust, and inclusive, environment.
2. Remember, it’s OK to take a break
The world won’t implode if you walk away from Twitter for a week; so why don’t you give it a try? Stepping away from one of your many social networks gives you time to evaluate what you are really gaining from participating in these communities. I stopped using Facebook for about half a month earlier this year, and noticed that I was getting most of my career-related and time-sensitive social media content from Twitter and Foursquare. With this insight, I decided that I didn’t need to monitor my Facebook profile as closely. Now I use Facebook less, but the content is more focused. Instead of contributing EVERYTHING to EVERY network, I now focus my Facebook content on sharing more personal posts with those closest to me. On Twitter, my posts are more business-focused, and they are less about what is going on in my life.
3. Get back to your original goals
Take a moment and think about why you originally started using each network. Yes, goals evolve over time, and that’s good. The important thing here is to understand what you want to get out of each network experience and be realistic with yourself about what you are actually getting. If you are participating because everybody else is, it may be time to use the network differently, or to stop using it all together if you can’t identify a benefit. Re-evaluate the social networks you are active in. If you are not getting what you want out of them, take a break. If you see no downside to not using that social network, perhaps it’s time to move on.
If you are going to stop using an account, don’t just abandon it. Shut it down. It’s as easy as that. Few things are worse than a corporate, or even personal account, that hasn’t been updated in months.
5. Set some personal guidelines
After you’ve taken the time to review your social media goals and re-evaluate what you want to get out of your social experience, it’s time to make some changes and stick to them. The nice thing about this step is that there are no right or wrong answers here. It’s largely a trial-and-error process to get your guidelines just right, but you have to start somewhere. For each network, consider setting:
- Time spent on site limits
- Number of posts per day/week limits
- Number of times a day you check your messages/replies/mentions limits
- Content parameters/guidelines (Do you really need to share that video of your cat on ALL of your social networks?)
All these can be quite flexible and can change based on network. If you are feeling burnt-out and just go back to the same way you were doing things, you will just burn out again. If you are feeling overwhelmed by social media, try a few of these tips for a month and see how you feel after 31 days – You just may get a breath of fresh air.