Social media is an insatiable beast. No matter how much time and effort you put into it, there will always be new platforms to explore, new formats to master, and new algorithms to navigate.
As an entrepreneur, business consultant, and author, I’ve used social media for many years. I’ve built a strong presence on several platforms. And I deeply appreciate the marketing and brand building power of social.
That said, I also respect the need to set strong boundaries when it comes to social media usage.
There was a time when I lost myself down the rabbit hole. It felt like I was busy promoting myself and growing my business, but I was measuring success in followers instead of leads, clients, or even friends.
It’s called social but ironically, it’s a very isolated space. And if you spend too much time and energy there, your business, your relationships, and your mental health may suffer.
This article is not a generic How-To list.
These are the things I did to pull myself out of that rabbit hole and spend less time on social media, while still growing my audience. They worked for me and I believe they will work for you:
Ask yourself where your ideal clients/customers hang out. Ditch platforms that don’t connect you with those folks.
You don’t need to be everywhere. Pick two or three places where the people you want to connect with are active and engaged. Focus on those platforms and stop wasting your time in spaces where the demographics don’t match your professional needs.
Schedule your social media time and don’t let it creep out of the box.
I spend 30 minutes on social at the beginning of each day. I touch base again at 1:30pm, for fifteen minutes. And at 5:30pm, I give myself another 15 minutes.
I use a timer and when the timer goes off, I stop, even if I feel tempted to keep scrolling.
Honestly, this was hard at first. But when you think about it – an hour a day is a good chunk of time. That’s seven hours of social media marketing each week!
Turn off notifications.
This is a no-brainer. Those incessant reminders of trivial moments are just distractions. They pull you out of the moment and away from creative, productive thoughts and interactions.
There’s nothing happening in the social media world that must be addressed right away. A new follower, or a post share, is nice, but it’s not monumental to your day.
Delete the icons from your phone.
If you use social media professionally, it can be inconvenient to delete the apps themselves. That said, just axing those icons will help you spend less time scrolling.
Obviously, you can still visit Twitter, Instagram, et al, whenever you like. But it will take 5-15 seconds to search and open your desired platform. And you’ll be blown away by how often you decide not to bother!
Use a scheduling app.
There are lots of options when it comes to social media scheduling. I use Buffer. I have a colleague who loves Hootsuite.
The important thing is to take the time to master whatever tool you select. So, pick the one that feels the most intuitive to you.
Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to design and schedule posts quickly, and pre-determine when posts are delivered – so you’re posting at the right time to connect with your ideal audience.
Spend most of your social media time engaging with people.
The most effective way to grow your audience is by engaging with other people’s posts (as opposed to obsessively posting about yourself).
So, use that scheduling app to help you pre-set your posts. Then, when you are ON social, focus on engagement instead of self-promotion.
This also makes social more fun because you’re interacting with other humans!
Don’t be afraid to take breaks.
I used to be nervous about disappearing from social media for short periods of time. But when I tried it, and went on a one-week holiday without posting anything – guess what happened?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
The sky didn’t fall. My follower count didn’t plummet.
The social media world simply went on without me. And when I jumped back in, refreshed and full of creative energy, I made cooler posts, and quippier comments, and my engagement rates spiked for a couple of weeks.
The bottom line is this…
Social media can be very helpful in terms of building authority, growing an audience, and having fun. But make sure you don’t spend more time posting about life than you do LIVING it.
Set boundaries. Make rules. And stick with them.
Decreasing your social media time may feel uncomfortable at first, especially if you’ve fallen deeply into the rabbit hole. But don’t worry.
Your comfort level will increase as you notice improvements in your creativity, productivity, and general sense of well-being. And these improvements will make it easier to build a strong presence on social media – and in life!
Kim Scaravelli is an entrepreneur, marketer, content consultant, and author of the book, Making Words Work. In it, she provides practical advice on how to strengthen your creativity and gain confidence in your writing skills.
Kim’s popular newsletter, Writing & Other Stuff, arrives in inboxes every second Wednesday, filled with writing tips, timely insights, and resources. You can sign up at kimscaravelli.com.