Guest post: Preventing a nervous breakdown in the age of social media


This post was contributed by Ari Herzog.

Ari Herzog is an online media strategist for organizational leaders, providing consulting, speaking, and writing services.

He is also a first-term city councilor in the city of Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Maybe you know Ari and read his blog. His posts usually cause a stir and he remains the blogger on whose posts I’ve commented the most.

Sales revenue forecasts are down, customers are jumping to your competition, and you were just charged by your boss with being the de facto social media manager because the company lacks the funds to hire someone new.

“Great!” you mumble to yourself, recognizing you know next to nil on what social media is, let alone how to use it to boost the company line.

But, you’ve put in 10 years with the firm, the management trusts you to get the work done, and you realize you have nothing to lose.

First things first, you create a Twitter account. It’s the talk of the town and everyone from Oprah to Ellen to Britney uses it, so it’s gotta mean something.

You start following your role models. You reply to them and their questions but they don’t reply to you. In time, you broadcast your own thoughts or products the company launches. You notice strangers with weird names like jonas556 and BigProductRevu follow you. You don’t know why, and they don’t message you, but you assume they are fans.

When someone does send you a message, you don’t know because you don’t know you are supposed to check that link called Replies. Twitter is a failure in the first week.

Then, you turn to Facebook. You don’t know Facebook from skydiving, but because your 14-year-old kid is on it, he shows you the ropes on creating a profile which you do in the name of the company. You don’t get that, either.

You watch some YouTube videos and add some comments. Nobody comments back.

The sarcasm level of the above is very high, but it could be a real situation.

Maybe you aren’t like the fictitious person above. Maybe you are engaging with your customers every day on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr.

Maybe you have a Ning-powered community in the name of your corporate brand. Maybe your company distributes audio-recorded press conferences on iTunes and video-recorded product launches on and uploads employee photos to Flickr. Maybe you’re using the web like the best of the best. But something’s not right. You have the passion but you’re getting tired and burned out.

You’re having a nervous breakdown.

Sorry to break it to you, but GOOD JOB! You are supposed to get burned out now and then. If you don’t question what you do and why you do it, you risk doing it for the wrong reasons.

Every optometrist will tell you to take a break from staring at computers or reading books to exercise your eyes. Every marathon trainer will tell you to not run every day because you need to relax your muscles. So, why do you write a status update on your favorite social networking service whenever you have something to say? If you don’t send that update, do you truly think your fans and customers will wonder where you are?

If you’re allowed to take a vacation with your family and leave your techno gadgets at home, surely you can take a vacation from tweeting, facebooking, and youtubing. If you don’t, I assure you that you will develop a mental illness. Your doctor would tell you to take care of your body before exerting physical pressure, so I suggest you similarly take a break, if even a deep breath, before sending that next update out.

Life will go on without that update.

And, if you can recognize life does go on without one social media marketing update, then imagine the repercussions if you take a week off from Twitter and Facebook. Continue your offline marketing instead, or focus on increasing the branding of that Ning community. Using social media does not mean using every tool every second of every day.

Unless they lose their funding, they’re not going away. So, take a break and protect your immunity.


  1. Two of my favorite writers in one space.
    If I was a woman I’d probably have peed myself but I’m a man so I held it in..

    I am a retweetard so hopefully when I hit the button it works.

    I really like your posts Ari. You have a very subtle sarcasm that I find really funny.

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