In my last blog, I talked about why I decided to detox from social media for a couple of months. As I described in that blog, the benefits I gained from leaving social media were immense – my focus and productivity immediately improved, as did my overall mood and sense of wellbeing. It was incredible to realise how much a regular influx of social media – especially the unnecessary comments, memes, tweets, GIFs and shares – had disrupted my thinking, reduced my efficiency, and pulled the strings on my emotions… all without my consciously realising it! That’s the quantum effect social media has on all of us, and it was fascinating to take a break, step back, and see the social media madness for what it truly is. A bit like that moment when Toto pulls back the curtain to reveal The Wizard of Oz frantically smacking buttons and pulling levers (hey, it’s Christmas. I had to use at least one popular Christmas movie as an analogy!)
But here’s the other thing my detox made me realise; that, when you get past all the pointless chatter and meaningless blustering, social media can still be an incredibly powerful and valuable tool for professional and personal communication. It possesses a lot of good and it’s a vital opportunity to reach out and influence people.
We just need to set proper rules and boundaries and learn how to use it properly.
And, for most of us, setting proper rules and boundaries is just another way of saying, ‘we have to break our bad social media habits and implement better ones.’
That’s why I decided to return.
Making my social media comeback
As I explained in my previous blog, I’d already set one important rule before leaving the social media universe. On all the platforms I use, I put a simple message at the beginning of my profile explaining why I was taking time away (that, as a coach, I actually want to talk to you face-to-face in person, not via a keyboard) and asking people to please not be offended when I didn’t reply to their messages or engage with what they were posting. Although I can’t be sure, I think that message was at least partially responsible for making my return a lot easier, because it set the parameters for what I was doing / why I was doing it and people realised I hadn’t just disappeared in a cloud of huff.
It also meant that, when I returned, I could do it on my own terms.
In my recent blog ‘Book It! My Top 5 Secret Santa Reading Recommendations’ I mentioned a book I’ve just finished reading called ‘New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World – and How to Make It Work for You’ by Jeremy Heimans & Henry Timms.
‘New Power’ was a particularly interesting book to read while I was away from social media because it’s all about social media’s potential for influencing both positive and negative change. The authors make it clear that, despite all the fake news, fake ads, covert personal information-gathering and negative subliminal messaging that social media often gets accused of, mega-platforms like Facebook can also be used as a tremendous force for good. We just have to know how to do it without being seduced by the Dark Side. (Can you tell I saw the new Star Wars film last night?)
So, that’s the strategy I’m going to try and use. I’m going to post more, I’m going to engage more, but everything I put out there will be based around value. I’ll be telling you what my business has been doing and sharing what I hope will be considered useful information, but I still won’t be reposting, sharing, liking or tweeting on a regular basis. There may occasionally be content I particularly like that I’ll retweet, share or link to, but it will all be about value. So, if someone reaches out to me and asks “Could you like my post?” the answer will very probably be no, but if they reach out to me and say “Here’s an amazing bit of content that I think your crowd / group / connections / world will find useful” – yes, I will post it if I agree that it’s genuinely valuable to my network.
That leads me to something I’ve been wondering about, which is another reason I’m starting to reframe my attitude to social media: recently, I co-hosted an event that I didn’t talk about or promote on social media because I was in the middle of my detox and suddenly breaking that detox to bang the drum about something I was doing seemed… well… a little bit manipulative and hypocritical.
Having said that, I would have liked my trusted network to find out about the event because I believe they could have benefited from it.
In the end, the turnout we received was quite small but it was, fortunately, a case of quality not quantity. The people who attended were engaged and switched-on and exactly the kind of audience we were hoping for.
However, I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if I’d put the event on social media? I’ve got approximately 10,000 connections across all my various platforms. Would more people have attended if I’d used social media to promote the event? What quality would those people have been? It’s a rhetorical question but, now that I’m back on social media, I’ll be interested to find out what happens next time.
My social media tactics
It’s easy. Moving forward on social media in 2020, I’m committed to giving out valuable information on my platforms and having as few conversations on social media as possible. That’s because I still believe conversations should be happening face-to-face, and not via a keyboard.
It’s about recognising the value of your time, and the value of everybody else’s time. It’s about not wasting my or your personal resources for unproductive reasons. I don’t want to read every random thought that’s being expressed, just as I know people don’t want to read every random thought that flies through my head.
Remember that social media is a terrific way to make and foster connections, establish a common ground and find out about each other. But don’t, like The Wizard of Oz, use it as a curtain to hide behind. Social media gives us the ability to communicate, but it’s not an excuse to avoid genuine human communication.
Realise your value, focus on giving value, and people will be more receptive to you because they know you’ll only reach out when you’ve got something worthwhile to say. If you’re chattering all the time, you just become loud annoying wallpaper. Nothing you say will ever be listened to seriously and very little you do will ever get accomplished.
Who needs that?
Have a fantastic Christmas and a very happy and successful New Year, everybody. Let’s go into the next decade talking honestly, giving value, showing respect, and keeping it real.
Ho ho ho!!!