Thursday, January 5, 2017

Making social media a positive experience!


I know social media can be hard for a lot of people. You feel inadequate. You feel left out. You feel like the only one with problems. I have certainly felt all of those things from time to time. But lately I've been having a really positive experience with social media and I wanted to share some of the things I've learned that have brought me happiness.

Make your social media sites serve different purposes. I once heard an inspiring entrepreneur talk about social media marketing strategy. He talked about how the most successful marketers realize why somebody is visiting a specific social media site, and cater to that purpose rather than posting one canned message on every site. I've tried to take that to heart, and differentiate why I am on certain social media sites. For me, Instagram is mostly a place for inspiration and less for socializing, and that differentiates it from Facebook.

Try not to follow very many people that you don't know, or don't know well. Sometimes I'll look through the "suggested" pages on Instagram trying to find someone new to inspire me. Occasionally I'll start following somebody and then I find myself saying things like, "Oh she's so much prettier than me" "Oh her kids are way better behaved than mine" "Oh her house is so much nicer than mine and I'll never have that." When I catch myself thinking those thoughts, I realize that is certainly not uplifting or inspiring. I don't have to put myself through that. I simply click "unfollow." Instragram, for me, is a place of inspiration (certainly the best thing for me to do would be to stop those untrue thoughts in their tracks, but I'm not always good about doing that, so for now, I think it's just fine to unfollow somebody until I get that figured out a little better).

If you have two or more social media sites, don't feel obligated to follow every person you follow on Facebook. This, I believe is the beauty of having two social media accounts. If you don't follow somebody on Instagram, if you are still friends on Facebook you will not lose track of them! Guard your Instagram account, make it different-- you totally can because you have the two accounts!!

Remember that social media is a personal experience. I think a lot of times people feel obligated to friend somebody, like all their content, etc. because they don't want to offend the person at the other end of the account. But you need to remember that they do not run your life. For most of us, we are viewing social media in our own home, when nobody else is around. Because of that, you need to consider what works for you, what is a good use of your resources and time, what is important and a priority. While you may have 389 friends-- and I'm talking real, true friends and family that you love--you have to imagine that even if they were all in the same room with you you would not have time to devote all of the time that you want to to each of them. You just don't have enough resources for that. Nobody does. Maybe you did have enough time to like and think about what your friend had for breakfast when you guys were roommates 15 years ago, but you are no longer roommates. And you've had about 10 other roommates since then that you love just as much. Don't feel bad about shutting off somebody's content, or finding ways to view less of it. Social media is not about them, it's about you. It's not the same as stiffing somebody in public, believe it. Free yourself from information that is not uplifting or inspiring you.

Along the same lines... don't be offended if somebody doesn't follow you or like all your stuff. We all have scarce resources. Your content matters to somebody... produce it for them.

Appreciate the people who care. Brene Brown has this cool quote about how sometimes we care more about what some random person in the grocery store thinks of us than the person we pay bills with. In other words, we want strangers to like us when it's the people who are already there that are the ones who really, truly care about us. I think about this quote a lot, and I've been trying to open my eyes and be more grateful. People do care, be grateful for them. Show them your appreciation.

It's by recognizing the people who care that I've made some really great friends. When you post on social media, sometimes you can actually find out more about a person than you would or did when you saw a person more frequently. Don't discount the people you've never known well who show interest in your content. Social media is a powerful tool in connecting souls, I believe. Don't let the awkwardness of "I never really knew you that well" keep you from finding and cherishing the people who care.

Say something. I spent a lot of years on the internet being a silent observer. Oftentimes I would read something I like and never get beyond a like button, or sometimes I would even do nothing. Some bloggers I've followed for years and never once commented. But this last year I began participating. If I see something I really truly like, I try hard to make a comment. As someone who creates content, I know it's really important to the curator. But you know what? It's also really important to me. It's part of what makes social media fulfilling to me. It makes social media less like voyeurism and more like the real thing. To stop and be grateful, to appreciate others and the things they share.

Take time to go through your friend list and appreciate people. I think I'm a little unusual, but periodically I will scroll through my entire list of 400 friends on Facebook, and I'll click on somebody who I haven't thought of in a while and would like to know what's going on in their life (this works because I've switched most people to not actually show up in my feed!). I genuinely like people, and like being their friend. For me, it doesn't matter if our friendship started in 6th grade, I generally still feel happy feelings towards them no matter how our paths have differed since that point. In the past it's also been really fun to connect with people and catch up with them through getting Christmas card addresses. Use your social media friends for friendship, and don't let them just become part of some faceless blob. Your past friendships are a gift. Your memories are a gift. It can add light to your darkest days, use this beautiful resource you've been given.

These are just my ideas and things that have worked for me, everyone's situation is so unique. Do you have tips that have worked for you? I'd love to hear!

2 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts here. I separate Facebook and Instagram in a similar way. Instagram is for people I know and Facebook is for everyone. I find I have to step away from Facebook, but it's nice to know I can keep track of my good friends on Instagram.

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    1. It makes it so much easier to give them separate purposes, don't you think? Thanks so much for your comment!

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