Social Media is an incredible way to build your brand online.
With tens of platforms, millions of people active and ready to connect, you have an opportunity.
As someone that has spent 10,000+ hours across social media platforms in recent years, I feel well positioned to give you some guidance based on some mistakes I've made.
You probably all know which one I spent most time on, and it was truly mind expanding; it was life changing, and felt like world connected for the first time at a higher level - group video calls do that.
It also took a huge investment of time, so let me (hopefully) help you address a few of the ways you can get the most out of Social Media. Putting it simply, burnout is not worth it and I was on the edge of that until March last year.
Before we get to the tips, let’s explore the role of language in our lives…(you’ll see where I am going):
“The world is made of language.”
Ever since Jason Silva picked up the gauntlet of cultural transformation from Terence McKenna, we see the emergence of engagement in one main understanding:
The world is not ‘out there’, it exists as a perceptual construct. And language matters.
As the culture changes, so does language.
I remember as a kid we used to call it ‘Sun tan lotion’ which then became ‘sun block’ a few years later. The sun didn’t change as much as we do - our understanding of health alters our perceptions and our use of language.
Which leads us on to...
Addicting vs. Addictive
Since arriving in the US I am hearing this word more ‘addicting’, as in e.g. ‘Milk chocolate 'Reeses pieces' can be an addicting...’
(we don't use this word as much in the UK)
Addictive is an adjective, and
Addicting is said to be an adjective, but actually I would suggest it is not.
You can be addicted and you wouldn’t even know.
If you search Google for ‘meaning addicting’ it hasn’t as yet enabled the result as a separate word:
As such, I am not sure this Google Search result cuts the mustard, so to speak.
To me, having failed to learn 7 languages in my lifetime (kind of proud of that, in a very strange way), it looks suspiciously like a verb structure, and likely to stem from the present continuous form of the verb ‘to addict’ i.e. it is addicting.
And this site (Grammar Girl) seems to have dived into this linguistic rabbit hole too, saying “The American Heritage Dictionary lists [addicting] it as a transitive verb.”
Why does this matter?
Well, I would suggest that by making the word a verb it changes how we process the information.
Making it continuous ‘-ing’, like ‘He/she/it is walking/talking/singing’ means that there is an active, ongoing process involved, not a passive descriptive state (an adjective), like it is ‘blue’ or it is ‘fast’. (and adjective being a describing word, but I know you know that - love you Elmo).
Ok, back in the room.
Saying something is addictive is a bit like saying ‘fire is hot’. Sure, but so what?
Saying ‘Social Media is addicting’, however, shifts us from this somewhat passive on/off, ‘this is the nature of it’ into a position where it possesses an ongoing power i.e. it continues to have the power of addicting you. But just like fire, it doesn’t have to burn, even though it has the capacity to do so.
These are the global stats for social:
And these are for social media addiction:
Saying it is addictive almost makes it, well ‘it’s fault’. Saying it is addicting means there is a relationship you, as a unique individual, has with whatever you are doing.
Fire can be used to cook food, keep your warm, melt metal for machinery (all technology), or it could burn you out. (see what I did there?)
The question is this: what are you trying to achieve through your online activity?
Then approach social in way that serves you best.
Know this: you either consume or your produce. If you are not producing content, then you are consuming. What you really want to be doing is creating quality connections (for business), with the content being the conversation around which those relationships are built.
With all that ‘set up’ in mind, here are the tips:
(And please know, I'm still working on this whole area, and am far from perfect myself.)
1. Switch off your Social Media notifications on your cell phone.
It was my good friend Chris Brogan from Owner.Media that nudged me on this one.
Very pleased he did.
Put simply, stop push notifications and you do Social much more on your terms.
Notifications are digital dopamine. And maybe you need to wean yourself off a little...
2. Close your social media tabs on your browser when you are doing other work.
Know this: your attention can only be on one thing at a time. If it on ‘that’ it is not on ‘this’.
Keep focused and you will get much more done, and enjoy Social Media on your own terms.
3. Go and buy yourself an alarm clock. Like this:
Why? That will stop you turning your phone on at night to see the time. No more will you be all like ‘Oh, I’ll just click a few buttons whilst I am at it.’ No.
And it doesn’t tick. Life changer.
4. Buy a book to write your to-do list in (i.e. know your outcomes)
This is like a rope tied around your waist when you go online.
You can ask yourself, ‘What was I meant to be doing?’, looking at the list in front of you, instead of being pulled any-which-way by the content that is pulling for your attention.
5. Know that your behaviour is what continues the ongoing pattern
i.e. you continue to behave in a way which keep re-addicting yourself.
If you think that you need 'more followers' to be 'ok', then you will spend your time chasing that goal.
The follower count, and the engagement though plus ones, likes, emoticons etc, are just metrics within a channel - and ultimately for businesses you need to be brutal as to what is working, or not.
It is not digital (on/off), even though it is (obviously) in the digital domain.
Ok, that could be a linguistic rabbit hole, so let me run with…
6. Pick a carrot, and stick with it. (I’m a writer, don’t you know...)
If you are on social for business then pick one or two main platforms for your attention.
(at least if you want to slow down a little..)
And you can nibble, you don’t have to spend hours on any one platform, consuming.
The complexity you will be experience by posting across seven sites, with seven groups of followers, with seven different cultures...you get the picture.
7. Run these experiments
Do you ‘think of Social’ when you are not on it?
I mean, do you find that thoughts are pulling you back. Are you walking down the street thinking of all the funny Facebook updates you could make? Or, how you could construct the perfect Snapchat story?
And maybe you have the urge to open an app and click a button or two?
Any addicting behaviour requires effort to sustain itself, and it starts with those persistent thoughts.
Want to know whether you have a ‘habit’? Well, sit for one hour, or just ‘do stuff for a day’ and notice how many times your mind was pulled toward social. But resist it. Go cold turkey, and then you will get a sense where it is ‘at’ for you.
And yes, posting photos counts.
Take one day off from Social, and notice how many times you are ‘tempted’ back.
Now imagine months with no posting, no snapping, no liking…
Could you live without it?
(I pretty much stopped for months last year, and trust me, the world didn’t end. Good people were still there when I returned.)
8. Stop. Clicking. Buttons.
I write articles, so I click a lot of buttons most days (like 10,000+) but even when I don’t I reckon I click 3000+ buttons every day. And a lot are relating to social.
How often do you check your notifications? Even when they are not showing any new message? (just to check)
9. Email counts too.
I started on Social Media back in 1998, but then it was friends on email lists (I used to share jokes with people I’d met on my 3 years living overseas).
Email is often more on your terms, but it can still be addicting as you feel you are missing out, or waiting until ‘something’ happens.
Here are some tips for taming your inbox.
10. Be present in your body
Until we get those snazzy contact lenses to wear, and fully connect our neo-cortex to the Cloud to gain an extra few RAM, I think we can learn to put our phones away and simply 'be here now.'
It may well help restore more presence in the real world, and give you better quality time on social when you are 'there'.
Social Media has become a lifestyle for many people, and it is still early days as to how it will pay off for some.
What I do know is this...
Social Media has opened the doors of the world, and we are all connecting.
The main thing to do is treat it as a tool that helps you connect with the right people for you.
Then you can tell your story, and build your business.
I hope the suggestions I've made help you navigate your way through a little more easily.
Get in touch here if you want to chat!