Here’s discussing the social networking disadvantages and advantages and how to use it effectively to build your personal brand and business.
Social media is a double-edged sword. The sooner you realise this hard truth, the better it is for you.
Please don’t be so naive to trust people who sing hosannas about social media. Yes, social media has its perks and benefits, such as fame, recognition, relationships, and even money for content creators. But it comes at a cost—your time, energy, health, and critical relationships.
That’s why it doesn’t come as a surprise when I see a few initially enthusiastic friends who embraced social media around the timing of their book launch develop cold feet later to go on a digital detox. Or when I see fellow authors who go on an intended social media break when they want to focus that time writing their next book. Time is money.
On the other spectrum, I have non-writer friends such as Shaili (name changed), who works in the IT industry. She barely has time for social media, and its existence is practically immaterial in her life. She could easily quit and be as prosperous as she is right now. But Shaili chooses to stay on social media, checking on her friends’ updates once in a while, but mainly looking for resourceful groups and connections that will help improve her wellness and quality of life. She swears by her health and fitness social groups. She is a content consumer and not a creator.
But what if you’re a content creator like me? Can you afford to take a break from social media?
I’ve been contemplating going on a social media break for a long time, as long as 2-3 years. It has affected my health, productivity, and even the quality of my key relationships.
There is a dark side to social media with growing evidence of its effects on mental health, safety, and privacy concerns. Recently, Facebook’s internal research found that its social platforms can cause mental health problems in its users, especially those in vulnerable groups. Since then, various other studies have found the correlation between social media use and mental health.
It’s also my work and passion where I need to stay abreast of the rapidly changing digital marketing trends that make it difficult to cut off entirely.
Despite the shady side of digital tech, it has empowered women, in particular, with various lucrative career opportunities. Women can work from anywhere in the world, including their homes, and work with a virtual company, become a freelancer, or start their businesses.
“If you are digitally fluent, it can provide a positive effect throughout your entire career lifecycle, and the effect benefits women more than men.”
Social media is among the various digital tools that can help enhance your personal brand and business.
After much contemplation and trial and error, I think I’ve found a sane middle-ground solution that’s worked for me and can help you stay on top of social media.
How To Keep Calm And Ace Social Media
1. Rethink Social Media
There is a common myth about social media: People’s online feeds and persona are fake.
My interpretation and understanding are that it isn’t. If you’re a fake person in real life, you will be the same even on social media.
If you think the real world is filled with people being ‘real,’ you couldn’t be any further from the truth. People have masks, and very few people are who they proclaim they are, be it offline or online.
You cannot be something you’re not in real life or social media for too long. People will see through you sooner or later eventually.
Social media is not this evil platform filled with fake, selfish people. It is simply a reflection of the real world we live in. You will bump into all kinds here, which is why you need to have some boundaries in place for your well-being.
2. List Your Goals For Being On Social Media
I am always surprised when a couple of my friends who rarely or never post on social media ping me to comment on my latest social updates.
“But I thought you never log into your accounts?”
“Of course I do. If everyone creates content, who will consume it?
You need an audience like us to consume your content, right?”
My friend’s response gave me a whole new perspective. She was clear about her intent on being on social media. She was strictly a content consumer on social media to check out the latest trends, updates and shop online.
As a content creator, I understand my goals for being on social media:
“To create valuable content for my target audience and build my community.”
As an author, I cannot sell my books on social media. But I know it’s a great free marketing platform for creative artists and entrepreneurs.
As a marketer, I understand the benefits of social media for a business and have a separate set of goals for why I’m on social media.
A recent example is Lush, a beauty retailer which quit Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat over safety concerns. But what also made Lush rethink their decision was the non-alignment of social media with their goals. Lush, as a brand, propagates honesty, transparency, self-care, slowing down, and shutting off for real connections. Social platforms want you to stay hooked onto them for as long as they can by hook or crook. So, Lush took the radical decision to quit entirely after carefully weighing their business philosophy and the benefits of staying away from social media.
Similarly, it would be best to list your reasons for being on social media. Accordingly, you can choose to quit or continue as frequently or infrequently (Hello, Digital detox!) as you like based on your goals and lifestyle.
3. Choose Your Social Platforms Intentionally
You would have noticed not everyone is a rockstar on all social platforms. While some content creators may be rocking it on Facebook, they’re not that great with Instagram. Those who have a cult following on Instagram may not have that kind of a following on Facebook.
That’s because every social platform is wired differently and for different purposes. If you’re doing what’s you’re doing on Facebook on Instagram, it’s not going to work out for you. If you’re using Twitter like Facebook, it’s not helping you either.
Understand how each social platform works before deciding if it’s the one for you or not. Based on your goals and even personality type, choose the right social media platform/s for you. It’s most likely only then that you’ll have fun on social media, apart from it serving your purpose.
Irrespective of the inherent differences, three things that will take you far across all social platforms are having a solid content strategy, staying consistent, and tracking your social metrics.
4. Monitor Your Time And Usage
Social media is a productivity killer unless you put a thick leash on it. This self-imposed restriction on my time and usage has helped me use social media with caution, purpose, and moderation.
My end goal is not to spend more than an hour on social media daily, preferably at the end of the day. You can use social media automation tools like Hootsuite, Later, or Buffer to bulk schedule your posts in advance and make time every day for content promotion and community engagement.
There are days I don’t publish or engage at all, and that’s my quiet detox. I no longer feel guilty about not replying immediately to comments, DMs, or going incognito on some WhatsApp groups. I will surely reply, but it may take as early as within 24 hours and as late as up to a week.
I don’t have that kind of time, energy, health, and bandwidth for continuous social media usage. Yes, I’ve lost a couple of crucial acquaintances because of it, but I treasure my sanity, well-being, and privacy foremost.
Such monitoring and limited usage of social media might cost you a few connections and even slow down your growth compared to your peers.
But it’s important to understand that life’s not a rat race. And neither are you a rat.
You’re a human being who needs ample rest and love. Everything else can wait and will fall into line eventually.
Do what works best for you without guilt and remorse.
5. Make It Fun And Work
Work becomes drudgery when you’re not having fun. Any kind of work, as mundane as cleaning your closet, becomes a thing of joy when you do it enthusiastically and with a fresh bout of energy.
The keywords are energy and enthusiasm. When you bring those two in anything you do, it transforms into a magical experience.
Another upside is the community and the tribe that you build along the way. I’ve discovered many good, talented, and inspiring people on social media. There’s so much learning from merely observing, interacting, meeting, and even collaborating with them.
Social media has thrown open the doors to diverse career opportunities for me. It happened when I was having fun on it and using it effectively.
I’ve been approached for blogging and social media workshops for children and adults. I’ve been asked to speak on the craft of writing. I’ve been contacted for interviews to inspire and motivate other writers, bloggers, and digital creators. I’ve even had a fruitful long-term work opportunity from a random WhatsApp group conversation with a stranger. All this while I wasn’t actively looking for work.
Make social media work for you, and have fun while doing so.
Social Media: Is It The Beauty Or The Beast?
My final thoughts would be to have an open mind about social media.
Accept and understand it for what it is.
If social media is not for you, that’s perfectly fine too. In fact, I secretly envy anyone who’s not on social media and living a quiet life.
Social media is not as glorious as some of its die-hard supporters claim it to be. I’m sure they’re sacrificing a lesser-known aspect of their life in return for staying on top of social media. If you go overboard, it can be a spell disaster for your health, relationships, and mental health.
On the other hand, social media is not as fake and demonic as is the popular misconception, as it is only an extension of the world we live in.
Social media has some tremendous advantages and opportunities in store for you too.
Learning to strike a delicate balance can be tricky but not impossible with mindfulness and perseverance.