Social media is now a large part of most people’s daily lives. But when you have your own business, such as being a blogger, writer, creative, or advocate online, you can start to feel like a slave to social media. It is easy to get caught up in the small things, especially when you spend most of your time down the social media rabbit hole. You can start to experience negative feelings about yourself and your life. There is a lot of hatred, negativity and anger out there and you can become wrapped up in outrage culture when you feel passionately about something. Social Media is all about connections and relationships. Yet it tells only snippets of our stories. If you get caught up in the stories of the people you love online, or become obsessed with telling your own, you will burn out and be no good to anyone. To use it wisely in your personal and business life, you need balance and strategy. After working online as a health and sustainability blogger, advocate and writer, since 2001, I have learned a lot over time. Everyone needs a break. Quiet, peaceful time in your life, with real humans, is essential. Finding balance and knowing how to pace yourself, is key.
Here are my 10 tips for finding balance in social media for sustainability activists, health advocates, writers, bloggers and creatives:
1) Be selective
Do not try to be on every social channel and do not try to be the best at them all. Pick 2 or 3 – the ones where your community hangs out, and that you enjoying interacting on, and spend time there. Don’t worry about all of the others. Different channels are appropriate for different businesses and people – for example, there is a strong writing and academic community on twitter – look for hashtags such as #Auswrites #writingcommunity #amwriting and get involved. Instagram is filled with creative brands, photographers, designers, makers and bloggers. Hashtags are huge on instagram – seek the ones that fit with your account and join in. Facebook basically has most of the humans on the planet on it, at some point of the day – but it is getting harder and harder to get your content seen unless you pay to play. I have 82,000 on Facebook but sometimes only a few thousand see a post. But for most of us, it is still important to have a presence there.
2) Use your time wisely
Set aside 2 – 3 batches of time each day where you will check social media for 15- 30 minutes each, and stick to that. You can check on your insight panels on your social accounts, to see when your followers are most likely to be online too. If you run groups, make sure you build in time for these separately, as they need nurturing and can be one of your best places for connecting with your community.
3) Don’t accept all invitations to comment
It is easy to think you must comment and respond to everyone. If you want to dedicate your life to that, then go for it! But most people need to eat, shower, spend time with family and friends, and actually create the content we want to share on social media. Always find time to respond to people who respond to your posts – even just with a like – but don’t feel you have to respond to everything. Comments do help your content go up a notch in the social media algorithms, but be wary of trying to have long conversations on every post, group, tag game and channel, that you are part of.
4) Block and delete
It is easy to become gutted by one small comment on social media. Try not to take these things to heart and use your block and delete powers with wild abandonment, whenever needed. Definitely don’t feed the trolls! I have personally had some pretty difficult situations with trolls, stalkers even, over the years, but you always have the power to ignore, block and delete. Protect yourself, rather than trying to argue with someone who will never change their opinion and will only cause you more trauma.
5) Create a social media strategy
Smart use of social media includes scheduling tools like co-schedule, buffer, tailwind and hootsuite. You can now also schedule Facebook and Instagram posts via Facebook Creator Studio. Have a plan of attack for the week, or month, around the blog content you will create PLUS the social media posts you will send out. And then play freely with some spontaneous posting that engages in the moment with your community, so your posts are not like an automated robot. If you share across platforms, try to make them suitable for each channel – for example removing the hashtags on a Facebook share from Instagram.
6) Work from heartfelt and mindful goals
Always always consider what you really matters to you when planning your social media use. It should improve and enhance your life, not destroy it. Consider why you are using social media, what your short-term and longer-term goals are, who you want to connect with online and why, and how you will deal with any issues you face. Be prepared to step away and have breaks – the world will not end. Be prepared to pivot and make changes in your content if needed.
7) Have a NO screens in the bedroom policy
This is a practical tip for surviving social media. Bedrooms are for sleeping, sex, cuddles and relaxation, not social media. Leave your phone behind when you head to bed, unless you need the alarm like I do. Do not check emails or social media right before sleep, or worse, when you get a notification overnight. In fact reducing the number of notifications that come from apps altogether is a smart phone move. Checking right before bed means your head is filled with everyone else’s stuff. It means you might come across an issue that nags at your overnight. It is also physically unhealthy – the blue light from screens interferes with your sleep patterns.
8) Think before you type
Don’t comment on posts when you are angry or upset. It is easy to get taken by a comment that is so strongly against your values, it makes you want to scream. Take a step back, take some deep breaths and think about it. If you still feel very strongly that commenting is important, then go for it. But be prepared to deal with potential debates from other people who disagree with you. These kinds of conversations on social media can get nasty. I usually stay away unless I am totally passionate and feel my comments will contribute something.
Working with other people on social media is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Look for people in the same line of work as you, who may like to help moderate a Facebook community, set up a hashtag on Instagram or Twitter, or develop a social media project together. Social media really is best shared.
10) Make it enjoyable
Social Media is a big part of business strategy, but it is also meant to be fun! It is easy to get burnt out if you are a slave to it. I have experienced this when running multiple support groups. Find things you love like podcasts, beautiful instagram feeds, communities on Twitter, and enriching or fun, Facebook groups. It is also ok to step out of communities on social media – if you need a break, for whatever reasons – take one. Come back if and when you are ready. If people are genuine, they will not mind this at all and will welcome you back with open arms when you return. Allow yourself some time in the evenings and on weekends, where social media is about anything but work. After all, sharing experiences and stories is what it is all about.