The more I manage social media for clients (living and breathing the wonders of web marketing work!), the more aware I find a critical need to put practices in place that don’t serve myself or my business. 

My stand on social media isn’t about being righteous…it’s about using social media with purpose so it enhances life and businesses rather than turning us into zombies who spend the majority of our time scrolling through feeds to see how many Likes we got.

A growing body of evidence points to the negative effects of too much social media on our brains. Too much Facebook usage can make us feel inadequate. Instagram is giving us all FOMO (fear of missing out). One study showed that just checking your feed for 20 minutes, rather than randomly browsing the internet, “instigates sad or depressing feelings.” Then there’s the anxiety, poor sleep quality, short attention spans and altered memory loss frequently associated with too much social media usage.

In an age where much of business relies on communicating with our audiences through social media, know that you do have choices on how you use it. 

Here are things you can do to get started with taking back more control of your social media. 

Post With Purpose

Education is the foundation of any good marketing strategy (one reason I like to think of it as “markeding,” and that goes for social media posts as much as any other kind of content. So when you’re posting, think about why you’re sharing that specific message. 

In business, that means making sure all your posts — even Instagram images or brief Facebook updates — are actually useful to your audience. That usefulness can come in many forms. It could be a quote from a recent blog post on useful tools for doing graphics. Or it could be a photo of you and your team at an event, which helps your audience put faces to your brand.

Making your social posts actually useful will also win you more credibility with your audience because you’re not simply adding to the deluge of posts users mindlessly scroll through every hour of every day. When a person sees content that is actually useful, they’re more likely to pause, properly ingest it, and consider ways they can apply it to their own work lives. 

Even in your personal life, you can post with purpose. You can entertain and inform your followers with something like showing the latest pics of your kids to relatives or explaining how you renovated the upstairs guest room. Social media gets less useful when you’re simply stuffing your accounts with pictures of your latest pedicure or what you bought at the grocery store.

Take a Break — Seriously 

There’s a thing called “social media fatigue,” where users pull back from social media because they feel overwhelmed with too many sites and connections and the idea of maintaining all of these. Meanwhile, people check their phones every 12 minutes on average according to one study and 52 times daily according to another. 

No wonder we’re attached by a sense of anxiety, dread, and exhaustion when it comes to social media.

The way to combat this — so that you’re not hiding from your social media tasks at work when you should be doing them to improve business — is to make a conscious effort to put your phone down when you’re off the clock.

This past holiday break, I took a social media break and did not post to Instagram or Facebook. There were plenty of ‘gram-worthy moments during that time with my family, but it was refreshing to actually experience them without feeling the need to post a photo for others’ approval. When I go on vacation, I’m thrilled to take pictures of the scenery or our activities. I just wait to post those pictures until I’ve gotten home. And in Serenbe, a rural Georgia community where my family has a vacation house, I will often leave my phone at home if I’m out for a walk, taking my daughter to the playground, or running to the neighborhood general store. It’s fabulous!

Social Media Shift Happens.
I truly think we are going to see a shift this ers, where, and how people use their phones. Most states have already banned cellphone use while driving. There are other initiatives in place, too, like a proposed ban on cellphone usage by anyone under 21 in the state of Vermont.

Government regulation aside, you can better your personal and professional lives this year and implement some changes in your own social media habits. While it might seem strange at first to not check your phone every 12 minutes, the mental freedom and boosted self esteem you’re likely to experience could play a huge role in setting you up for success personally and professionally for the rest of the year.