I can’t be the only one to have spotted all the headlines earlier this year – one of the top 10 new years’ resolutions around the globe is about quitting social media.
Yet, ironically over the Christmas break I discovered how to enjoy social media again!
As someone who works all day in front of a computer screen, and further, with a focus on digital content, I have experienced major bouts of social media burnout.
Not ideal for someone who works in my industry and actually, used to really enjoy social media marketing and strategy for business and branding purposes.
According to a survey by Bidvine, this year more people plan to quit social media than smoking. Bit extreme, but I can understand why – there’s the compulsive (and often anti-social) behaviour around checking Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; pointless posts, blurry pictures, and useless information being shared; not to mention the psychological impact that many prestigious universities are studying regarding the link between overuse of social media and an increase in depression and anxiety.
After all that, why should we engage and try to enjoy social media anymore?
Well, for one thing I’d advocate social media is an excellent way to stay connected, particularly for the millions of us who travel, live or commute for jobs and lives away from family and friends.
It’s also essential for business marketing, and of course for the ever rising freelancer economy that’s had the chance to thrive thanks to technology that allows us to work anywhere.
In fact, it’s estimated that by 2020, 50 per cent of the United States’ workforce will be freelancers (Forbes, 2016), and social media provides a free, convenient and clever channel for self-promotion (which equals work contracts and income!).
I started to enjoy social media again last year, inspired by pretty locations I visited including Kent (UK) and Malta, but taking stock over the Christmas break in Ibiza was what really got me back on track.
If you’re over it all but know you need to re-discover the essential elements of how to enjoy social media again (for work, self-promotion or business), here’s what I have learnt.
5 ways to enjoy social media again
Don’t get caught up in broadcasting
While I love the fact we can schedule Facebook posts and Buffer Tweets, stories to LinkedIn and now even images to Instagram, it’s easy to let the robot do all the work.
In other words, I was sending a lot of content out in an automated manner (broadcasting), but by the time it surfaced to social media I didn’t really care (mostly because I forgot it would appear!).
Sure, it helped us score some blog click-throughs on content and automation is definitely helpful for the busy business-person, but I was forgetting to actually spend time on the social media channel I was sharing to.
Now I’m back to being interested in only the channels and topics that light me up (such as travel, dogs, technology and lifestyle magazine type features).
After all, if I’m not engaged, why should I expect my audience to be, and how am I going to get any fun out of the experience?
Lesson: refine the content you are sharing and browsing, to that which really interests you.
Schedule time for social media
Find out what times work for your audience engagement, and set up a routine that fits with your lifestyle without cutting into it.
For me, I post to Instagram first thing in the morning (while I’m at the gym on an exercise bike!), I glance at Twitter on the commute to work on the bus (and I tweet or retweet at this time); I post to LinkedIn in the evening and engage on there for five minutes before dinner, and I spend ten minutes scheduling Facebook page updates and also replying to comments or messages that have come through during the day.
Yes, I still Buffer (schedule) content, but I’m doing so more mindfully, and I’m enjoying being present on these platforms again rather than losing the momentum that can come with everything being automated.
I’m limiting the time that I am spending on each social media channel, and I have a routine for engaging – rather than compulsively checking or posting instead of talking to my friends or partner over a meal.
Lesson: schedule social media into your day, as you would organise other tasks. Also, don’t take it too seriously – we’re back to trying to having fun with it, remember?
Re-purpose your content
Certainly, it’s easy to be inspired to enjoy social media in a place like Ibiza – a beautiful, sunny Spanish island!
But how to keep that up when back at work and it’s raining outside? Surface your lovely older content! This might be in the form of photos, blogs, stories you’ve written, top tips, how-to instructions…
We’ve got so much content from ‘before’ we became more active on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram; it’s just a matter of having a little dig though your own archives and planning creative ways to share it.
I find a nice way to do this is to theme your days on social media – e.g. Monday could be ‘Monday motivation’; Tuesday for us is #ttot (‘travel talk on Tuesday’ or ‘travel Tuesday’); Wednesday is often inspiration or wisdom themed, and we like #tbt (throwback Thursday) as a way of sharing past adventures; Friday is also often ‘fun’ themed or a bit more light-hearted coming into the weekend.
Sort your older material into themes that work for your niche/brand and purpose (whether that be business or personal branding) and then you have it on hand ready to share without too much thought on any given day.
Lesson: this method means you’re never short of content or ideas for things to share on social media.
Get involved in the community
Joining groups, adding comments or starting conversations online can be time-consuming, but if you choose your spaces wisely, you can effectively grow your audience and engagement online as well as potentially discover business contacts and even make friends.
LinkedIn is a particularly important space to engage, and there are countless groups you can join to virtually network with industry colleagues from all over the world.
This is also a chance to demonstrate your area of expertise by participating in conversations relevant to your niche.
There are groups you can join on Facebook, Instagram and Google+ too, that enable you to ‘network’, share content and support like-minded people. For example, I’m a member of various bloggers’ groups and professional networks for content and communications professionals.
It can be fun sharing knowledge and getting to know others, albeit in the virtual realm.
Lesson: it’s called social media for a reason – it’s more fun if you are ‘social’.
Choose your favourites
As in life, we eventually learn to not spread ourselves too thin.
It’s very tempting to try to be on all platforms and there was a time I was trying to be active on up to ten spaces! It’s impossible and in the end doesn’t work for you – unless you have a team, you’ll be spread too thin both in time and content.
My advice is choose three or four that complement each other, so Cooper and I now focus on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; Cooper mostly manages our YouTube channel while I enjoy engaging on LinkedIn.
Certainly, browse the others out of interest if and when you have time, but as far as effectively growing your channels and having fun on social media again, stick with a manageable number of offerings.
Lesson: spend your time on the channels that you like the best, and learn how to make the most of their offerings.
What do you make of all this – have you conquered the social media vs time available in life beast? Please do share thoughts, tips, experience and your suggestions in the comments.