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Summary:

Social networking isn’t a life sentence, and it needn’t take up your every waking (or even spare) moment. There are benefits to be gained through being part of social networks that suit you. So why not give social networking another try?

Whether you’ve suffered social network burnout, or you’ve just slipped out of the social media loop somehow, you can get back into the swing of things … if you want to.

Why Bother?

Social networking isn’t always a cakewalk, but it can be fun and insightful. Every person who uses social networks will give you a different reason why you should consider getting back into social networking:

  • it’s fun and entertaining
  • it lets you access the thoughts of some of the leaders in your profession or areas of interest
  • it’s a good vehicle for building your personal brand
  • it’s a great way to stay on top of what’s going on
  • it provides inspiration
  • it helps you connect with other interesting people

Of course, we all know that there are downsides to social networking, but you may find that you don’t want those negatives to prevent your from enjoying the good stuff.

Social networking isn’t a life sentence, and it needn’t take up your every waking (or even spare) moment. There are benefits to be gained through being part of social networks that suit you. So why not give social networking another try?

Getting Back Into the Social Saddle

Okay, so you started out social networking, went crazy, got burned (or burned out), and decided to take a break. After any bad experience, it can be hard to give credence to the suggestion that you should try again.

What you need is a low-risk social networking strategy that preempts the possibility of your becoming overwhelmed, worn out or disenfranchised all over again.

1. Start slowly. If you’ve been out of the social network loop, you probably had good reason for it. So rather than rushing back to the same old setup — the setup that may well have driven you crazy last time — consider taking things slowly.

Think twice about simply activating your existing accounts and taking on the familiar burdens. Look around — the social networking landscape changes by the day. There’s likely to be a network or two you’ve never heard of before. Maybe they’d suit your needs better than the ones you used to use?

2. Work out what you need. Ask yourself what you want to achieve by using social networks. Do you want to build a professional reputation and following, or exchange jokes with friends? Both? Or something else altogether? What kinds of status updates do you want to be able to publish?

Working out what you want to achieve through social networks before you reengage will make it easier to identify your needs — and a social network that can meet them.

3. Find a place for it. If you’ve worked out what you need from a social network, you shouldn’t find it too difficult to give your engagement with social networking a context — to give it a place in your day or week, and your philosophy.

This works in the other direction, too: By finding a place for your social network activity, you’ll be able to discount social networks and modes of network engagement that don’t fit with your personal approach. Finding a place for social networking — and keeping it there — helps to keep your involvement manageable and on track.

4. Assess and reassess. If you’ve already become disillusioned by social media, you’re likely to be wary of heading down the same dead-end path again. Keeping a close eye on your engagement with the networks you decide to use can help you to avoid burnout in future.

Try completing a mental check every so often as you’re using social networks. How do you feel? Are you enjoying the experience? Do you feel you’re giving more than you’re getting? What have you learned or gained from the network recently?

Do this periodically, and you’ll be more likely to avoid frustration and burnout, because you’ll adjust your engagement continually on the basis of the return you feel you’re getting.

Have you recently resurrected your social media presence? What advice can you provide from your experience to help make the process a success?

Image by stock.xchng user chadart.

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): Can Enterprise Privacy Survive Social Networking?

  1. I did a bit of a @garyvee move, used twitter and made it really a selling point of my personal brand and got a lot from it. Then as of a few months ago I have taken a step back to get back into “the trenches” and back to business and now I am coming back to Twitter a bit more. Great article.

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  2. Nice post Georgina. You make a great point with # 2 (Work Out What You Need). Without any type of plan or realistic expectations it’s easy to become unsatisfied with social media as a business. Most businesses wouldn’t put a website up or an ad campaign out without a plan and social media should be the same way. Also #5 have fun with it, because if your not having fun with it most likely your followers/fans/friends are not very interested in your profile.

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