3 good reasons to break up with social media

There’s no need to call it off completely, but data supports doing less on fewer platforms. Prioritize and cultivate your digital ‘fountains’—and tell your ‘drains’ it’s over.

Our torrid romance with social media has begun to sour.

As we “celebrate” well over a decade with the likes of Facebook (founded in February 2004), Twitter and LinkedIn, it’s hard to imagine life before these platforms. They’ve changed the way we conduct business, advertise, stay in touch, make announcements, network, reconnect and exert emotional leverage over high school enemies. To say the least, social media has profoundly transformed public relations, marketing and business communication.

However, too much “connectivity” has its drawbacks. Even the creators and purveyors of these technologies have started highlighting the pitfalls of online obsession, and science is confirming the deleterious effects of social media. It is part blessing and part curse for companies and individuals alike.

Most business owners can’t survive without social media, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a draining centerpiece of your strategy. Here are three reasons to consider doing less on social media:

1. It distracts and detracts from other important tasks. How many social media accounts do you maintain? How much time do they demand each week? Do you have a proofing process to ensure everything you post is clean, compelling and not disastrously offensive?

Pumping out worthwhile content across an array of platforms requires hefty chunks of time. No two channels are the same, and each requires nuance, expertise and cultivation.

When’s the last time you analyzed the ROI of your social media efforts? Is every endeavor yielding results?

Instead of heaving Facebook posts into the void, consider letting your team contribute toward more substantive business results. Let them handwrite letters to your best clients or work on crafting content that will be useful for your audience. Let them focus on making one or two channels truly exceptional.

Relentlessly pushing out mediocre content to an apathetic audience is not virtuous; it’s wasteful. If you’re paying someone to distribute thinly veiled infomercials, it might be time to reconsider that investment. Half-hearted social media efforts just add feeble fodder to the endless, mindless scroll. Spend your time (and money) on more important endeavors.

2. Doing less can benefit your health—and your business. Several studies have linked social media use to heightened issues with depression, anxiety, sleep dysfunction and even increased suicide risk. Of course, posting content online can be hazardous for your company’s health, too. If you think your tweets are above reproach, remember: The internet never forgets, and there are plenty of ways for you to screw up.

That’s not to say you should delete all your accounts. Distinguish your digital drains from your fruitful fountains. Prioritize your bread-and-butter platforms, and abandon your ghost towns. Don’t feel obligated to have a “presence” on a platform just because your competitors do.

Focus on quality instead of quantity. Stake your claim in online arenas where you have momentum, expertise and a fighting chance to reach your target audience. It’s better to be a go-to expert on one channel than to be a middling, over-exposed lightweight.

3. You’re not Wendy’s (or MoonPie). It’s possible to snark your way to the top, but you might not be able to stomach the results. Don’t get caught up in trying to emulate “hotter” brands.

Unless you have a team of nimble wisecrackers such as those at Wendy’s or MoonPie, your company is probably not destined for internet stardom. Recalibrate your expectations.

Workplace jokes, in general, are risky business, and social media is littered with the carcasses of asinine corporate attempts at humor. Don’t let your desire to “join the conversation” outrun your capacity to do so in a responsible, productive manner.

Cheap shots and tone-deaf comments can taint your brand forever. Unless you have a highly skilled, exceedingly witty writer on staff, it’s better to use social media as a nourishing oasis of helpful information and useful tips.

Less is more

If you have an unhealthy relationship with social media, consider a cleansing “fast.” Give up Snapchat or Facebook for Lent. Break it off with whichever platforms give you grief and little else.

Rally around your most effective online mouthpiece(s), and marshal your troops around those reinforced encampments. Abandon the ignored outposts that simply drain resources. Tighten your strategy, narrow your focus, and consider lightening your social media load.

What you’ll lose in “engagement,” “impressions” or “awareness,” you’ll more than make up for in health and productivity—and possibly sanity.


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