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Silence Matters

By Jessica Albon

Being Quiet on Social Media

Liz Welsh, Shh…

Every week, I get at least a handful of panicked emails from clients saying something like, “It’s been three days since my last Tweet! I have to say something but don’t know what. Help!!”

And, in general, my reply is the same:

“Pull out your social media plan, if it inspires you to say something, great, if not, don’t worry about it.”

Now, you’ll notice it starts with a business action: look over your social media plan. Because sometimes I find my clients stumped for what to say not because there’s nothing to say, but because they’re self-sabotaging. For instance, perhaps they have a big launch coming up and instead of wanting to talk about it, they want to hide until it’s over.

So, that business piece is absolutely crucial.

But, sometimes you don’t have anything to say because you don’t have anything to say. In those cases, remember: silence is an absolutely reasonable (and good!) option.

You hear a lot about consistency and in some things, it’s crucial. You absolutely want to be demonstrating that you’re trustworthy and reliable.

But when it comes to content creation (and especially social media), if you’re too “reliable” people start to tune you out. That’s because our brains are wired to pay more attention to the things that come and go–like the flash of a lightning bug–than they are to things that are steady.

In fact, there’s evidence that the reason time “speeds up” as we get older is because our brains are processing less about the world around us (because we’ve grown accustomed to it) and thus time feels like it’s condensing.

So, the more something is always the same, the less attention we naturally pay to it.

What’s more, when it comes to social media in particular, if you’re always “available,” you’re giving the message that you’re always available. Which, let’s face it: is neither true nor what you want!

Obviously, you can’t use this as an excuse to never create the content you need to create, but the next time you’re feeling like you’d rather not say anything, after making sure it’s not self-sabotage, consider saying nothing.

Twitter won’t cancel your account. Tumblr won’t suddenly set your page to invisible. Your newsletter list won’t up and disappear. It’s okay to go quiet from time to time. 

And what about those times when you need more than a tiny break and then aren’t quite sure how to start being noisy again? Read this when you’re ready.