2011 was a good year for incorporating social media into business. Many business owners, entrepreneurs, franchisors and franchisees recognize the opportunities and potential of social networking for business. They are executing  strategies for 2012 to build their social presence.

There are individuals like Alissa Ramsay, Franchise Development Director for Appleton Learning that are taking a different approach and taking a hiatus!

I had the pleasure of meeting Alissa in September. She was visiting a Houston Appleton location and introduced herself. We spent a morning discussing social media, IFA and franchising in general. Alissa and I met again at FranCamp in Nashville. She was a great participant and I had the pleasure of getting to know her better.

After FranCamp, Alissa immersed herself in social media. She was active setting up new social media networks and engaged eagerly on Twitter, Facebook and setup a blog. Then she decided to stop cold turkey! I asked Alissa what prompted her hiatus …

What made you decide to abstain from social media?  

Preface: As they would say down south, I LOVE ME some social media!   

It was a difficult decision to take a personal hiatus from social media.  For those of us immersed in social networking, you know this was a PAINFUL choice and one that did not come lightly!  I took a break for a few reasons, but mainly I was clearly addicted, lacked content and was distracted from my goals. It may sound dramatic, but I feel like to live life to the fullest, you have to live it on your own terms and without the clutches of any addiction.  Some people’s vices are cigarettes, coffee/caffeine, a relationship… in my case, it was social media.  And yes, I cut out coffee from my life about 10 years ago because I thought it was ridiculous I could not function without it!  Balance is the name of the game and I had to find it with social media.

At the time of my decision to go on a social media hiatus, I had just received a promotion to Director of Franchise Development, my studies to become a Certified Franchise Executive (CFE) were being neglected and, ironically, Appleton asked me to head up our social marketing efforts.  I consider myself a pretty discipled and focused person, but social media got hold of me and I found myself distracted from achieving my goals, especially earning my CFE in one year.  

Not only was SM distracting me from my goals, I didn’t feel like I had a focus.  I was relatively new and dabbled here and there, but couldn’t find my footing online.  I needed to take a step back and to find my focus and my voice.  If content is king, I felt and feel obligated to put quality content out into the world and I did not feel like I was being a responsible social media ambassador.    

What social platforms were you using and how hard has it been to stay away?  

The social media platforms I am personally using are Facebook (started a page- currently down), Twitter (@AlissaRamsay), LinkedIn, and I started a blog (www.AlissaRamsay.com).  Pretty basic.  Facebook and Twitter have been difficult to stay away.  LinkedIn has received some update love because of my promotion.  The blog will wait until 2012, but I am very excited about what’s to come!  

I have, however, been engaged online for Appleton.  We have a pretty aggressive growth plan for 2012 and our friends online are definitely part of the party.  It has been exciting to use social platforms through the voice of a strong brand shaking things up in the education industry.

What are you social network goals for 2012?

My personal social networking goal for 2012 is to put purposeful content online focusing on my passions of brand identity/management, customer service, franchising, and social media.  I hope to maintain quality content at least 90% of the time.  I’m sure some fluff will get in there from time to time!  I also want to reconnect and meet more amazing people like everyone at FranCamp.  Video is a passion and I am working on how to incorporate it into the blog content.  We will see. 

I was surprised by Alissa’s decision to step away from social media but impressed with her rational. Goal planning, purpose, direction and strategy are imperative. A social media hiatus is not for everyone but I applaud Alissa for taking the first step in her strategy for 2012. She is taking it one step at a time, purposefully and with focus.

Good luck Alissa and I look forward to your return!