How to Cure a Social Media Hangover

We’ve all been there. The familiar headache, questionable digestive system, and the inability to extend out of fetal position. Don’t even think about standing up.

Being hungover is the product of excess, and doesn’t only happen after regrettable neon-coloured shots enjoyed on Saturday night. Overdoing it with anything, including social media, can also lead to symptoms that make us regret our decisions.

Whether your social media hangover is caused by the intense online marketing campaign you just wrapped up, two days at a nonstop social media conference, or simply a personal dedication to all things social, some simple tips can help you recharge, no Gatorade required.

Types of social media hangovers

Just like the morning after a night out courtesy of tequila is different from a vodka-induced morning-after (or so I’ve been told), the different causes of a social media hangover can mean very different things for your recovery. We’ve listed out some common offenders below, as well as suggested some possible cures to help you detox.

Spending too much time on social

It’s no question that social media is a big part of our everyday lives. While many are posting and liking for personal entertainment, social media is undoubtedly a necessary tool for most businesses and professionals. According to a GlobalWebIndex poll, the average person logs 1.72 hours on social media per day, or 28 percent of their time online. Even more interesting, is that 41 percent of those aged 16–35 have experienced what they refer to as “social media overdosing.” While we would never make the unrealistic (and unnecessary) suggestion to cut social out of your life, many of us know how it feels when you’ve spent too much time interacting with others online.

Michael Brenner of B2B Marketing Insider experienced this after attending a conference where he live-blogged, live-tweeted, and interacted with participants on Facebook for three full days. Brenner explains, “For three days after the show, I felt my social media haze and headache. I sporadically checked in on my connections across the various networks but just couldn’t bring myself to dive in and create anything.” This kind of lethargy and disinterest in the very thing that he overloaded on definitely mimics a traditional hangover, as anyone who’s ever been offered a breakfast glass of champagne knows very well.

While you’ll definitely know if you’re experiencing a beverage-induced hangover, it can sometimes be hard to know if you have been online for too long. Anna Rodgriguez at Business to Community includes the following in her list of signs you might need a break from social media:

  • Social media is keeping you from being productive

  • You feel socially cut off from everything when you don’t have Internet

  • Your self-esteem is somewhat tied to how many “Likes” or “Retweets” you get

  • You access social media when you’re supposed to be concentrating on other things

If you find yourself nodding along to this list, or have ever been in a similar situation as Brenner, and experienced the mental and physical exhaustion that results from running an intense social media campaign, you could very well be familiar with this type of social media hangover.

Hangover cure #1

When you feel your eyes glaze over and a headache coming on from too much retweeting and replying to Facebook questions, it might be time to step away from the screen. In order to be able to engage to the best of your ability, breaks from social media are difficult but very necessary. Like most good things in life, moderation is the key to continuing to enjoy your time spent on social media. Some tips for keeping your usage in-check include:

Set rules for yourself

Schedule time each day where you are unplugged and focusing on yourself. Go for a walk, play with your dog, read a book, interact with others in person (I know, I know). When you get back on that Twitter train you’ll be refreshed and ready to respond with a clear mind. If you need some help with setting aside this time, the Pause App is a great way to take a break and focus on mindfulness, combatting that scatterbrained feeling that multitasking can sometimes cause. Users use their fingers in a guided visual meditation, which will nudge them if they stop (presumably to check emails or social media) and then chime when their quick session is over.

Sign in with purpose

Have a goal in mind when approaching your social media channels. Whether it is to listen to what your audience is saying about your brand, to check in on a campaign, to respond to a mention, or to post something, it’s a good idea to be aware of why you are on social media, rather than just checking it as a reflex and having a “how did I get here?” blackout moment.

Schedule posts

A tried and true way to give yourself more time off of social as well as peace of mind, is to schedule your posts through a handy platform such as Hootsuite. Having one tool to manage all of your social media channels, including the scheduling of posts, will undoubtedly save you both time and energy, allowing you more space to develop offline content, ideas, and the many other cogs in your social media strategy machine. To help you out with this, we have tips on how to save time with Hootsuite on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Schedule your time on social

While of course you may need to respond to a customer Twitter or Facebook question as soon as possible, for non-pressing social media matters it’s helpful (when possible) to schedule your time spent just as you would schedule a meeting. This creates a mental boundary for yourself, allowing your social media time to be driven by purpose and value rather than blind, open-ended hours of scrolling. For example, you can set aside a 20 minute block of time per day for managing your Instagram account and avoid getting sucked into the dark hole of the explore page.

Sharing too much

Another common overindulgence that can cause a social media hangover is the act of sharing too much. This doesn’t just refer to that one aunt who took to Facebook to discuss her last wax, but to brands and companies who get trigger happy with the share button.

It’s important for any company using social media to keep a consistent schedule and to continuously engage with their audience. However, over-posting is a definite way to drive away audience members and annoy your followers. If you’re clogging up everyone else’s feeds with your own posts, you’re going to alienate users and it seems unavoidable that the content of your posts will suffer.

Think about how you react to any social media account that is constantly posting and sharing content. You probably either tune out or, eventually, unfollow them. Sharing more does not only take more effort and energy, but will not necessarily result in more followers or engagement for you or your brand.

Hangover cure #2

If you feel that something is lacking in your life when you go an hour without posting to a social media channel, it might be time to cut back, both for your own sake and the sake of your followers. This can be hard, but curbing your sharing appetite will help ease the anxiety and pressure you feel over continuously pushing out social media content and posts. Some helpful guidelines for doing so include the following:

Find a balance

It would be sacrilegious to suggest anyone stop posting and sharing to social media, but finding a healthy balance is important. There are numerous factors that come into play when considering whether you are posting too much or too little, such as the platform, whether the content is original, how long it is, and the nature of what you’re sharing. This infographic from Constant Contact provides some insight into best practices surrounding how often you should be posting to each channel.

Quality over quantity

If you are posting to social media with no goal or specific reason in mind, it’s probably time to take a look at your content. Posting less content of higher quality will always be a better approach to managing your social media accounts over posting more often, but with poor quality content. Every post you share should provide your followers with some sort of value, whether it be entertainment, knowledge, or insight. Before you post, it’s a good idea to simply take a moment and ask yourself what possible value you are bringing to your audience.

Following too many accounts

The final type of social media overload can occur when you are following too many accounts. Not only will you probably miss posts from more relevant accounts, but you will never be able to engage with the majority of these users. Luckily, there are pretty painless ways to detox from a social media following excess.

Hangover cure #3

Be picky

If you find your social media feeds to be repetitive in content and themes, it could be helpful to examine who you are following and organize them by subject matter. For example, if you are following the BBC, CNN, and Reuters as news resources, pick the one you find most valuable and unfollow the others. This might take a bit of time, but will definitely be worth the more streamlined feed and increasingly valuable social media experience you will have.

Do a mass unfollow

Recognizing the prevalence of this issue, numerous online tools are available to help you unfollow other users as painlessly as possible. One of the most popular is Crowdfire, which allows you to sign into your Twitter or Instagram account through the web app and see who you are following who isn’t returning the favor, which inactive users you are following, and who has recently unfollowed you.

If you’re a social media manager and your online hangover is more serious, you might need a real vacation to deeply detox. See here for tips on how you (yes you!) can take a break without your social media strategy suffering.