There’s a Better Way to Use Social Media
One of the challenges I had with social media is the balance between learning from those who have succeeded in specific areas while trying not to envy them.
Social media is an incredible tool to use for learning. You can study how someone posts, how they use it to communicate about their business or build their brand. Clues are everywhere online.
Social media is also great for consuming great content, be it educational or entertainment. With the click of a follow/unfollow button, you can intentionally curate your feed to be things that interest you or people you want to learn from.
But there’s also a downside to using social media mindlessly.
The killer of joy (comparison) runs rampant on social media.
Everywhere you scroll is the perfect picture of someone doing something great. It’s not like anyone is posting big losses. We even intellectually know that social media isn’t the entire story, but it doesn’t make it easier to see certain “wins” such as likes, comments, or followers on a profile and not compare it to your own work.
You can clean out your “Following” list on Twitter or Instagram, go back and add only accounts that you want to learn from….and still struggle mentally seeing certain successes that you haven’t reached yet.
It feels like being on social media to learn only ends up creating more mental anxiety than mental growth in many of us.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The subtle shift starts with how we talk to ourselves and how we view our social media feed.
A leader’s goal with social media should be to use it to connect with like-minded people, engage those following you, and learn from those ahead of you who share how to get better. Here are the four steps I started taking to improve my relationship with social media & maintain better focus on my own race instead of comparing it to someone else’s version.
1. Control WHAT you consume.
I review my following list roughly once every other month.
On Instagram, I take two steps:
- 1. I review my feed to see if the content appearing is the kind I want to be consuming & taking note of how certain posts make me respond mentally, being sure to unfollow anything that causes an unhealthy response.
- 2. I review accounts I enjoy for who they follow and browse to see who I might want to add into my feed.
This keeps my feed fresh as well as my mind in a healthy space with the content.
On Twitter, I decided to:
- Clean out a majority of my “following” list. This became pretty easy during election season.
- Create private lists for accounts based on topic (Mental Performance, Leadership, Sales, My Teams, Friends, etc.. are just a few). This allows me to not be controlled by my feed but jump right into a topic.
This has changed my endlessly scrolling on Twitter to now using the platform for intentionally hopping on to learn/converse and then logging off.
You can’t consume crap & play at your best physically, so why would you mentally?
You don’t have to follow every account. Find the ones that add value to your mindset, relationships, & life, and unfollow the rest. It’s your feed, make sure you’re intentional with how you use it.
2. Control HOW long you consume.
It’s easy to get caught into the trap of scrolling for hours. If we’re going to start using social media to learn, we need to set boundaries for how long we’re using it. Classes have a bell to signal that it’s time to move on, use the same thing with your phone alarm.
I will try to post multiple times a day, but I try to limit getting into my feed (and scrolling) to two specific periods:
- To comment & engage users. I try to make at least 15 comments per day from the @CompeteEveryDay account to followers or users of a specific hashtag
- Scroll to see what specific people I follow have produced & shared that I can like or comment on to support.
In both instances, I’ve started setting a short alarm so that when it rings, I log off. We always work better under a deadline, so why not set one so we are more intentional with the feed versus what can become a negative habit of continually scrolling for fresh content.
3. Control WHY you consume.
A key to improving your relationship with social media and transforming it from a consumption-only feed toward a learning experience is understanding why you get online. It doesn’t matter to me why you want to consume certain content, but it should matter to you.
- Is it to learn how to improve your daily mindset?
- Do you scroll to learn how to build your business?
- Or are you using it to “keep up with the Joneses?”
Getting a better handle on why you spend time online will you help each time you log-on and how you interact with it. Knowing that you get online to connect with other people will push your focus toward commenting & engaging with new accounts instead of scrolling your own feed for hours. Understanding that you’re online to learn will help you set a boundary that you log-on, read something you can add commentary to or learn from, and then log-off.
Understand why you’re using the platform to improve how you’re using it.
4. Create FOR someone else to consume.
By now, we’ve controlled who’s content we consume, how long we’re online, and why we’re there. Now it’s our turn to create something valuable for someone else.
- Don’t worry about your likes
- Don’t worry if “no one sees it”
- Only focus on how your next post can encourage, entertain, or support someone else.
We want to be leaders who add positive value to the mass content that is social media — not someone adding to the crap that’s already on there. Find something you learned from someone else, share it in your own words or with added commentary (link back if you quote them direct) and keep paying the value forward.
It’s hard to be worried about how you compare to this person or that person when you’re locked into how you can help someone who already follows you.
As a growing leader, social media can provide an incredible opportunity to learn and develop your skills. There are amazing accounts to follow that consistently provide strong value. Remember that the platforms are meant for connection, not comparison.
Get on. Learn something. Share something. Then get offline and go make moves.