Even in 2023, 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 social post! 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. This happens a lot when they have a big launch coming up and instead of being excited to talk about what they’re about to offer, they want to hide until the launch is over.

That’s why the 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.

I know, we live in a world of 24/7 competition for attention. You’ll also hear from a lot of experts about how being consistent on all of your social media platforms is mission critical. It’s not that I disagree outright with this advice — 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. This can lead, especially for small businesses, to having customers and prospects be upset when you don’t respond within 5 minutes at 5 a.m. on a Saturday. Let’s face it: those kinds of expectations are neither accurate nor what you want!

Obviously, you can’t use “I don’t feel inspired” 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.

YouTube won’t cancel your account. TikTok won’t suddenly set your profile to invisible. Your newsletter list won’t up and disappear. It’s okay to go quiet from time to time. (And yes, I know the algorithms must be fed. But remember, the top priority of most social platforms is engagement and the best way to create engagement is by posting great content.)

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.