Monday, August 19, 2013

How to Leave A Social Platform: The Dos and Dont’s of Saying “Goodbye”

It’s easy enough to join a new social platform. Fill out the registration form — or just sign in through another platform, such as Twitter or Facebook. Perhaps click a verification link in an email. Maybe a friend introduces you, shows you around. That first date is easy. It feels comfortable to spend time together.

You’re enjoy your time with this new platform. You’ve developed a new peer group, you share good times — you laugh at new in-jokes. It’s all fun for a while…but eventually the thrill is gone and feels more like a chore to check in.

You can’t help it — you feel like the platform let you down. You were such good friends, but now this friend is still complaining about the same stuff, full of the same questions over and over and it’s annoying you. You stop coming by so often — and when you do, it’s often to tell folks how much less often you’ll be dropping in.

You wake up one day and think — “I’m done here. It’s time to move on.” But…how does one go about leaving a social platform? It’s easy to join, shouldn’t it be easy to leave too?

It should be — but it isn’t. A community is more than just a place to chat with other people. When you joined, you only had yourself to answer to. When you leave, it’s going to affect others.If you’ve been granted any cognitive authority, your absence will create ripples. If you have real authority on the platform, those ripples will be bigger. Either way, the ripples will subside, but for a while it’ll be hard on you and on the community.

What to Do When You Are Leaving A Platform
Take a Break — As you would with any relationship, you’ve been spending a lot of time together with your new platform. Being attached at the hips takes a lot of work and it cuts you off from other relationships. After a while, you might just need some time off . Separate yourself from the drama for perspective. Take yourself offline for a bit, quietly, and see if you miss the community. If find yourself saving items to share or stories to tell to your community — come back. You don’t need to apologize to the community, we’re all human.

Update Your Profile — If you intend on leaving your account active, write a note on your profile with links where you can be found while you’re away. People who want to will be able to find you. You might be surprised how much of your community follows along.

Let People You Care About Know You’re Leaving — You’ve made real friends and your absence will be noted. Do you have a blog, a forum, a thread or a group? If there are any warrens on the site (or offsite, but related such “Platform Users” group on a different platform) where people expect you to be, value your contribution or desire your company, let folks know where your contributions will be (if that is of interest) or where they can find you (if you want them to be able to do so.) Knowing who your real friends are makes any kind of breakup easier.

What Not To Do When Leaving A Platform
Come Back Repeatedly To See If Anyone Noticed — This is called a “Flounce.” Flounces are commonly enacted by people who never really quite fit in in the first place. When you walk out the door of a community, there is nothing at all that will kill your credibility faster than looking over your shoulder to see if anyone is watching you. “I’m really leaving this time!”

Complain About How Things Have Changed — Yes, things change. Old users get worn out or just move on, some new users don’t get the Sitegeist (the general culture and etiquette of a site. ) You change, too — the topic/format just doesn't interest you any more. It’s perfectly natural that your relationship with the platform will change and it’s really okay for you to simply move on.

How to Leave a Social Platform
Leave — Walk away. Say your goodbyes, delete your account, move on with your life. Maintain your dignity.

That platform will move on as well and, after a short period of grieving, you’ll remember the good times, you’ll grow from the experience and you’ll find a new relationship.


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