Some of you might know that I like to take Augusts off. While not completely off the grid (I still clean out my e-mail—although I don't reply much—and I still moderate comments on my blog), I don't write any blog posts (on my blog or here at Search Engine Guide), and I stay off Twitter. I also don't read any blog posts or check out what others are saying on Twitter—it's a social media fast. Each year, it's interesting to find myself picking up a newspaper again. This year, I did something a bit different, because I actually returned to work on August 25th because of a client need, but I continued to stay away from social media for the last week, just to see what it was like. It's one thing for me to avoid social media while I am on vacation, but what would it feel like during my work day?
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Well, the verdict is in. It felt very strange. As easy as it is for me to drop out of social media while on vacation and just hang with my wife and play with the kids, once I am back at work, it felt very odd to not know what is going on.
I mean, I had been away for three weeks on vacation, so I really had no idea what was happening, but to be working in that kind of darkness was a different experience. The first thing I had to do was to fly to a distant city and make a speech on Internet marketing to hundreds of people. In doing so, I was gripped by this semi-insane fear that I couldn't make the speech without knowing what is going on. I mean, what if someone asked a question about something that just happened and I didn't know the answer?
Of course, the speech went just fine. Internet marketing apparently hasn't changed all that much in the last month (even though apparently the Web died while I was away).
But I also noticed how much I wanted to say, with no one to tell. I usually tweet about where I am traveling, so I had to resist the impulse to tell people about my trip last week. People would send me links to things to read—not only didn't I read them, but I didn't tell anyone about them. I'll probably catch up over the next week and tweet some of them.
But it was the blog ideas that just kept coming. And I wasn't writing any of them.
Usually, I post to my blog once each day (usually I am the writer of the article, but I also edit contributions from some other excellent contributors), so every day it is a struggle to get that done. I take for granted that nice people out there are actually interested in hearing what I have to say. It was strange to have a few work days where I wasn't publishing anything. (Frank Reed published several posts on my blog while I was away, but I didn't have any work to do while on vacation.)
I now have dozens of ideas for blog posts. most accumulated during the last week at work, with only a couple from my vacation. So, while my vacation definitely recharged my batteries, my social media fast during my first week back from work filled my creative coffers. Perhaps many of you post just once a week, or even less frequently, so this is not an issue for you. And while I've never felt like I am running dry for ideas, going a few days without having to write anything has been an eye-opener.
So, I still haven't completely caught up on what's been going on, but I will soon. My social media fast has proven to me both how important social media is and how important it is to take a break now and then. Some have told me that they only look at social media during defined times of the day (I know some who do this with e-mail, too). I never understood that before, but maybe I am starting to.
Anyway, I am glad to be back, and I'm honored that a few of you actually want to listen to what I have to say. Thank you.
Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, text analytics, and web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.
Mike's previous appearances include Text Analytics World, Rutgers Business School, SEMRush webinar, ClickZ Live.
Mike also founded and writes for Biznology, is the co-author of Outside-In Marketing (with James Mathewson) and the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (now in its 3rd edition, and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herald as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.
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