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I just returned from a three-month sabbatical that was entirely work free. Or was it?

Drawing the line between life and work has become increasingly difficult in this age of social media. Can we still do it? Do we want to?

My husband had decided ahead of our sabbatical that once we’d set foot on Hawaii, he would cut the cord to Facebook and Linkedin completely, and check his private email only sporadically.

I had no such intentions. I wanted to take a break from work but as a social media professional, I felt that I needed to at least stay on top of the latest social media developments. Particularly, as I was in the middle of co-authoring a social media book.  And I certainly could not survive 11 weeks away without being in close contact with my friends.

What worked in my favor is that I am very clear about the target audience for each of my social media channels. This way, I knew that Facebook would be my channel of choice to stay in touch with friends, while Twitter would mostly be my window into my social media network.

  • Facebook: friends
  • Twitter: people interested in social media marketing (business & friends)
  • LinkedIn: mainly business
  • Slideshare: social media network (biz & friends)

I decided to send one Tweet a day and started to schedule some of them, as I spent limited time online. To my surprise, my Klout score went up after about a month. While #IN still worked to post to my Linkedin status, I used it in my Tweets. When Twitter disabled this option, I switched to posting articles via LinkedIn, checking the Twitter box. I also reviewed the occasional Slideshare deck when I got email notifications. Was I working?   

Social Media: Your Home Away From Home

So how did my husband fair? He broke down during the first week, with his main social media activity becoming posting and reading on Facebook. He also checked his private email but ignored Linkedin until we got back.

It is unexpectedly hard to be away from your friends for an extended period of time. We missed them, wanted to know what was happening in their lives, but also not be forgotten.  For me, sharing our trip – mostly via pictures on Facebook – made it better. Quite a number of people thanked me for sharing our adventures while they had to labor on. At the same time, I knew what was happening in my friends’ everyday lives.   

Facebook Insights

We learned a lot about Facebook. If you post more than one picture at a time, people are less likely to comment (as you have to click on one of the pictures to comment). On Fridays, after lunch, there are usually less and less comments. Some people are more active on the weekend, others completely drop off.

For communications deemed personal, many people will send FB messages vs. post on the wall.  My husband and I both unfriended a bunch of people. We observed that some folks never post or comment on anything. If you are not active on Facebook, let’s just be friends in the real world. Apart from some very close friends, lurkers got terminated.

Also, as we used Facebook for recreation, we got tired of the people who use Facebook to only talk about work. It is ok to do that and won’t affect my off-line relationship with you, but on FB, I only want to hear about work-related issues that affect you emotionally, e.g. make you happy, sad, have a huge impact on your life – I don’t want to hear corporate bla bla and marketing lingo.

It seems that most people I talk to have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. It was great to stay in touch and I would not have wanted to miss it, but there is also the expectation to read all comments and respond which creates a certain pressure. And how often are you supposed to check? You can’t have a rewarding network without engagement. How much do you want to engage online vs. off-line? A question you have to answer for yourself.   

Leveraging Social Media for Work & Play: The Panel

As I write about using social media for work in 99% of my blog posts, this post is limited to “play”.  If you like the discussion on “Leveraging Social Media for Work and Play” consider attending a FountainBlue panel discussion on the topic at Adobe in San Jose this coming Friday, July 13th, from 11:30 am – 1:30 PM. I’ll be sharing the stage with Cherie Del Carlo from Gather Your Crowd, Deepika Bajaj of Capcom, and Brenda Rogers of Roku. And all of this is put on by the fabulous Linda Holroyd. Sign up here.

As we are in the middle of vacation season, how are you planning to tackle the work and play balance during your time off?


PS: As some of you already know, I decided on my sabbatical to focus 100% on my own business, MarketingXLerator, It was very difficult decision, as there are many wonderful people at SAP, and SCN is a super community, but I don’t intend to cut the ties. Thank you for all your support and friendship, without which I would not be where I am today.

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  1. Fred Verheul

    Hi Natascha,

    Nice blog (again)!

    I was a bit surprised when I noticed you had a new role + position (#notaninsider), and found out you went for your own business. Always a brave move IMO, so I wish you all the best! May it bring you what you expect and hope for.

    Cheers, Fred

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    1. Natascha Thomson Post author

      Fred:

      thanks for your kind comment.

      It was not an easy decision to leave SAP and do my own business…but it took me a long time to plug up the courage, so now I have to give it a go. Sabbatical was good to clear my mind and think about what I really want, be present.

      Best to you as well,

      Natascha

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