By the time this article surfaces, I will be well on my way to Antarctica with my friend and colleague Joanna McFarlane. There are a number of things that excite me about this trip (don’t let me get started on the penguins or we’ll be here for hours) but one in particular stands out: the idea of being off the grid for two full weeks. I’m not talking about the kind of off the grid where your out of office notification is on, but you’re still secretly checking emails and watching to make sure everything is OK. I’m talking about no Wi-Fi, no cell service, no social media. Full stop.
Of course, you’re already thinking, “If she takes a picture in Antarctica without posting it on Instagram, does it really exist?”
We are plugged in as an industry, a community, a country and a continent. We are, dare I say it, addicted to social media. The photos and thoughts we publish are rated, reviewed and ranked based on how many Likes they receive, how many Shares they earn, and how many Comments are made. In advertising, we monitor these metrics for our clients’ social footprint on a daily basis and from these insights we challenge our Social Content Strategists to push harder to develop engaging, shareable and ultimately ‘viral’ content.
Perhaps because of this keen attention to our clients’ engagement rates, an element of this constant monitoring trickles into our own personal social network. How many Likes did my new photo get? How come no one commented on that hysterical joke I just posted? Why isn’t this video of my friend’s cat wearing a penguin costume getting more shares?
Taking time to disengage and refocus can prompt a fresh surge of energy, creativity, and excitement in our work. I don’t think that we have to travel to the ends of the earth to do it, but it can certainly help. For two full weeks we will be completely disconnected. We will be taking in our surroundings instead of just focusing on capturing them (not to mention wondering which filter would make that cellphone picture look better). It will be liberating to spend time on checking out for once, not ‘checking in’.
When we do come back to the connected world I’m sure we will both cave in and post a few #lategrams. And shortly after, Joanna, being the Analytics wizard that she is, will inevitably dig into the numbers behind how successful the trip was deemed based on how many Likes, Comments, and Shares our photos receive. My prediction? We’re bound to get a few extra thumbs up from our social networks than the average photo, but high or low engagement rates aside, taking the time to log out now and then (voluntarily or involuntarily) may be the secret key to keeping your own content fresh.