"Are you on Insta? Oh you HAVE to be on Insta - it's where it's AT. Everyone's on there. Didn't you know?"
"You mean you run your own business and you don't have a Facebook group?! How do you ever get clients? Don't you know that that's how everyone's getting clients?"
"You blog but you're not on Pinterest? How are people ever going to see you? Why are you even bothering?"
Social media has been an incredibly useful tool in helping me build awareness of and engagement with Power of Mum. I've met some brilliant people and my posts have been shared and commented on regularly.
It's also been a genuine source of anxiety, obsession and addiction. It's felt like there's been so much pressure:
- the pressure to engage with all the latest trends on Instagram - if I don't engage with @coolnewpersononinsta (not an account as far as I know) then will I be missing out?
- the pressure to get clients on Facebook, by posting daily, witty, informative, engaging posts
- the pressure to create beautiful content that is shared far and wide
- the pressure to be constantly visible, lest the ALGORITHM punish me
- the pressure to get more followers now, to get more likes now, to boost posts now, to be pinned now, to be EVERYWHERE!
It's the single biggest thing about which I've been given the most advice since starting Power of Mum. The great obsession of our age, the "one thing" we all need to be "mindful" of, the area about which we must constantly focus.
And you know what? I think it can be exhausting. It is so easy for a quick check of my own Instagram account to turn into thirty minutes of pointless scrolling, or "engaging with other accounts to grow your reach" to turn into an hour of commenting on stranger's pictures of their flatlays. A quick check on your Facebook group can rapidly result in comparisonitis rearing its ugly head, or imposter syndrome kicking as you realise that you don't even know if your Pinterest pins are dynamic and rich.
And that's before we talk about the work/family balance and the blurring of boundaries. A year ago I didn't have a Facebook account, and would find myself having passive aggressive discussions with my husband about his need to check his wall so often. Now I often find that I am the one rambling on about my SEO, or how there's this great new app really helping me pinpointing the new hashtags I need to use.
This blog is not meant to be a criticism of social media - I have seen firsthand the powerful benefits it offers to a business or brand. Rather it's an acknowledgement that without very careful consideration, SM can all too quickly become pervasive, invasive and - yep I'm being this bold - damaging to mental health and relationships.
So what can we do to use it in a way that is healthy and positive? Here's a few suggestions I have:
1. Schedule how you use it. Just in the same way that I bet you schedule going to the dentist, or picking up your child from playgroup, schedule when you will check your social media. Put it in the diary and notice how much more disciplined you become.
2. Ask yourself "what would happen to my business if it disappeared tomorrow"? Most social media isn't giving you any information you can keep (that's a mail list is so important - more on that another time...) so when you ask yourself that question, consider how important it remains to you. Perhaps you're a blogger or content creator who relies on it to get work commissioned - in which case how can you schedule it in so that it doesn't interrupt every minute.
3. Turn off notification alerts. Seriously. Try it.
4. Set a timer while you are using it - see what happens if you put on a timer to go off after 15 minutes - how much have you achieved when that time is over?
5. Turn off your phone and other devices an hour before bed, and notice how you feel.
6. Leave your phone outside your bedroom to charge, and get an alarm clock if you use it for an alarm.
7. Consider - do you really need to check your social media channels as soon as you wake up? What could you do with this time instead? Lie in bed and daydream? Exercise? Journal? Write a to-do-list? Stretch? Wash your face with that really nice face wash you keep for "when you've got more time?"
8. Schedule in blank space every day, at the times when you'd be most tempted to have a quick scroll. Try it for a week and see what comes out of it - I think you'll be amazed at how much more creative and liberated you feel.
9. Choose a day a week that is completely social media free - what happens to your focus? How do you feel about those moments with your family or friends without the comfort and familiarity of your phone. What happens to your business?
10. If you really feel you need to be present on social media every day, can you use scheduling tools? Can you prioritise which social media needs your most pressing attention (e.g. your paid membership online group, your free group, your Instagram, your responses to Pinterest notifications?)
What do you think about the pressure of social media? Do you even feel it?! Do you have any top tips for using it in a way that is healthy? I'd love to hear any of your thoughts about this in the comments below x