I have a facebook account. I think. I also have a twitter account, but I don’t remember my password. Or my username. I am positive that I have an instagram account. But I think the last time I posted on it, Trump might still have been president. Oh! And LinkedIn! I’m on that one! But wait…did I update it when I left my last job? Or does it still say I am working at that hospital I left several years ago? Damn…
To date, the only social media platforms I regularly use are Meetup and Mighty Networks (and that’s just because I host events on meetup and then record some of the content in my online community). In other words – I use those because I get to connect with people in real time in one space and then share resources with people who want to view the content without interruption on the other. I am the hostess on those. I have THE POWER.
For a little more context…A few years ago (and by “few” I mean less than five) I said to a friend of mine “dear God….did you hear there is yet another new platform? I guess it’s called TikTok?” To which my friend playfully volleyed with something like “Ummm….Leah….new? It’s been out for several years. Where have you been?”
I would like to tell you that the reason I’m not on social media (at least not in the way most people talk about it) is simply because I’m too cool for it. And if I contort my lens of reality juuuuuuust right, I might be able to make a solid case for that. But honestly? I think I’m just kinda tired. I don’t even know if I can say I’m tired of the so-called toxicity of online algorithms. For me to say that I would have had to have had more exposure to that toxicity. No…I mean I am just TIRED. By the the time I finish my part-time work, then unplug from that to go about the business of building my own private practice and then switch gears to help build my other business (I know…two businesses. That’s just greedy)…the very thought of having to pick up my phone and check in on virtual chat rooms and update myself on the latest events in my “friend’s” lives, I’m just physiologically fatigued. I’m done. I paid my dues to society and damnit now all I wanna do is go outside for a walk with my dog and listen to a podcast, a good book or the silent sounds of my own ruminations.
This is the part where people usually say something like:
“I thought you said you have your own business…”
And then I reply:
And then they say something like:
“Soooo…..how do you get the word out about what you do? How do you market yourself? Hell…how do you stay connected with the world?”
To which I then reply:
“To connect with my friends, I text them. Or I call them. To market myself, I go to networking events (either virtually or honest-to-God in-person networking events). I also have a podcast. I guess that sorta counts as marketing…ish.”
“Aaaand how do clients find out about you?”
“Usually it’s word-of-mouth. Or by referrals”
And this is the part I think is super interesting. By the time I get to this part of the conversation, people usually say something like: “Good for you!”
And they seem to mean it.
The reason I am lead to believe that is because we often proceed to spend the next hour talking about how flippin exhausting social media is and how much sweeter life seemed to be without it and on and on and on.
Apparently I am not the only one who is tired.
I spent a solid year feeling pretty damn smug about my absence on social media (because who needs it?) until I recently connected with a marketing specialist with the aim of gently expanding my reach with my business. I wanted to know if there were strategies I could adopt that might help my business to grow. After outlining some of the successes I have had, I explained where I needed help with expansion. Without missing a beat, he said: “let’s talk about social media.”
I had been referred to this man through a trusted pier. He (my friend) had said this guy was a wizard and really enjoyed working with people in the health and wellness/healing space. So I guess I sort of thought he might find a way to avoid the whole social media corner. I thought maybe we could sit together like Mufasa and Simba in the Lion King and he would say “That’s social media, Leah. You must never go there.”
But nope. He was totally going there.
By the end of our conversation, though, I started to have a slightly different take on the idea of social media.
“I used to feel the same way you do about social media,” he said. “But then I simply got more strategic about it. I used it more intentionally. The thing is, social media isn’t a good place to make new connections. It’s a place to maintain the connections you already have. It’s a place to help build more trust with others and assure them that yes…you are actually a real person.” This sounded remarkably similar to things I had heard on a podcast I follow called “Marketing Unflitered” hosted by Sophia Parra (a woman who specializes in marketing for coaches).
He then proceeded to give me examples of the ways he had begun to curate his social media in a way that gave him a true sense of connection with other people (without feeling drained by it). In fact, he now feels a positive association with it and he finds it to be a source of authentic joy. The difference is that he uses it mindfully and intentionally.
I liked what he had to say, but I was still skeptical. Like the true nerd I am, I decided to look at whether any research supported his experience. Sure enough, an article published by Harvard University titled “Social Media Use Can Be Positive for Mental Health and Social Well Being” the author writes “We found that routine social media use—for example, using social media as part of everyday routine and responding to content that others share—is positively associated with all three health outcomes. Emotional connection to social media—for example, checking apps excessively out of fear of missing out, being disappointed about or feeling disconnected from friends when not logged into social media—is negatively associated with all three outcomes.” In other words – it wasn’t about the amount one used social media. It’s about one’s relationship to their usage and their intentions behind that use.
And this nuance is echoed by the voices of nearly every effective social media user I have stumbled across (from Gary V author of books like Crushing It to William Arruda – author of Digital You). Social media is neither good nor bad. It’s a tool.
I’m not exactly sure how I am planning on using this information just yet. I don’t know how many social media platforms I might resume or how frequently I imagine I will be posting on them and updating them. But for the first time in years I’m exploring it and looking at it with new eyes and new possibility.