The way to keep social media simple is to be selective. (You can honestly stop reading here unless you’d like some specific ideas and examples on how do to this, friends.)
By the end of 2012 I was overwhelmed by social media. (Don’t get me wrong: I love social media.) I believe social media exists for three core reasons:
- to connect with people
- to share with others
- to learn from others
These are three of my favorite things to do, so social media is a natural fit for me! But I’d begun noticing that I felt I had to check social media messages in case I missed getting back to someone who had a question or wanted help. The feeling of obligation took some of the wind out of my social media sails, and I decided to take a month to assess what I could change to remain active without feeling overwhelmed.
Note: I didn’t stop engaging in social media during this month, but I did remove all social media apps from my smart phone. Any interaction I had on social media the past month has been on a laptop in between projects and meetings or at home in the evenings or on the weekend. This created an environment where I was able to notice how many time a day I’d go to my phone in between tasks to check in on the latest. This observation period revealed to me that in many cases I’d open an app out of boredom then suddenly lose time doing something I don’t want to invest too much time doing.
I asked myself these questions throughout the month:
- Why do I want to go to this social media site?
- Is this site more conducive to broadcasting or engaging in a network of people?
- What’s the benefit of this social media site to me?
- Now that I’ve identified I’m looking to pass the time using a social media app, how will I use this time instead?
After a month of targeted observation, here are the solutions I came up with:
1. Goodbye, Instagram. I won’t be putting this app back on my phone but will click on a friend’s link to see their Instagram photo if I’m so inclined. I love this app but believe I was getting caught in the net of checking it for updates without really building any type of community.
2. I use Buffer App to schedule the sharing of things I think are important during those times I’m unable to change focus from reading to getting on social media and responding to waiting @’s or DMs. (Most often I schedule buffered tweets and Facebook updates while going through my Read & Review folder. Details here.)
3. We put out a phone bowl at home. This has helped us make eye contact more at home. The true beauty of this new habit is that once I’ve put the phone down, I rarely return to it until I go to charge it at bedtime.
4. I used the free manageflitter service to unfollow some people on Twitter whom I had no idea why I was following. I don’t auto follow back so I was truly surprised by some of the people on the list! A cleaner twitter stream means I’m less likely to miss out on what my friends have to say when I log in to join the conversation.
5. I enjoy being involved in chats, and answering and asking questions online. I respond to nearly everything…just not necessarily the very second you contact me. My goal is to check in on Twitter and Facebook at least twice a day to keep the conversation going. Even after this experiment, Hootsuite remains my favorite way to connect with friends online.
6. I’ve never liked talking on the phone much. My experiment revealed to me that this strong preference of mine means I’ve naturally created a habit of using DM’s, Facebook messages, email, and Twitter @’s to ask questions or get information. Seeing the app-free screen on my iPhone when I needed help this past month meant I learned to lean more into making a call…and more often than not this made for a quicker result and a more enjoyable interaction overall.
I’ve never allowed email or social media notifications on my phone, and now having these social media apps off my iPhone means I’m fully present locally but able to connect without distraction online when I do log in each day.
Tell me…How do you keep social media simple?