22 Jan I have a confession…
I don’t like social media.
I’m going out on a limb, here. I can hear you clutching those pearls, I know. I recognise the irony, given what I do for a living. I hear you. HOWEVER, as a hopeless introvert, I have a laundry list of reasons why I struggle with modern ways of ‘communicating’.
There are big, bad, bullies everywhere
Wherever I turn, people are mean and kinda whiny, and deeply committed to their own point of view no matter the cost. It hurts my heart to see people being bullied and shamed by people they’ve never met, and who would never say the same mean things IRL. (see, I’m down with the kids)
It saps your time and your energy
Realistically, I get sucked in most days and I lose time and I lose heart. I don’t like being manipulated into buying things I don’t need, or spending hours on end scrolling through garbage. What’s left of my poor mum brain is scrambled egg for reading ‘the latest’ about Ryan Gosling and his geese. I don’t take ‘selfies’, I don’t have ‘Insta’. And above all, I neither know nor care what the Kardashians are up to.
“Everybody’s doing it”…
Remember as a teenager, your parents would ask you who was going to the party and you would reply in earnest, “everybody”? As if to be left out would leave you a social pariah, and, just, tragedy… Social media seems a bit like that to me. I don’t really have FOMO, and I hate the notion that in order to be found I have to join the jostling and clamour for attention I see across all my social accounts. It’s scrappy. It’s cutthroat. It’s all just noise.
That’s not to say I don’t use it. Of course I do. It’s kind of essential to the modern business model. It’s just that, call me old fashioned, but I miss the days of being able to believe what you read, and consume only what you truly need.
It’s a minefield these days.
Is it an amazing tool for staying connected, getting recognised and staying informed on current events? Certainly. (Although the ‘staying informed’ bit is debatable these days. Thanks, algorithm bias) It has been instrumental in social uprising (hello, Arab Spring) and bringing communities together (hello, Celeste Barber).
I just wish it weren’t absolutely necessary to join the noise in what is already an incredibly stressful world full of unprecedented mental health problems and general dishonesty.
So, what to do?
How do we maintain our integrity and simultaneously maintain a meaningful online presence? I think it comes down to a few things:
Keep it relevant
Your customers don’t need to see cute pictures of your kids (unless your business is selling cute pictures of your kids), or the latest viral video. Ask yourself, ‘“is this relevant?” and “how is this adding value for my clients?”.
Providing up-to-date, engaging information in the form of social media posts, direct emails and blogs is essential. Having said that, just throwing things out there and seeing what happens is doing neither you nor your audience any favours. You need to have a plan, even if it’s basic. (Ask me about how I can help with your social media strategies!)
Be honest and accountable
Don’t assume your customers won’t call you out if you’re caught lying. Modern consumers are savvy, and as we’ve discussed, quite happy to badmouth your brand under the anonymity of their online presence. (Also, if you have to lie to sell your product, you probably need a new one)
Find ways to be open with your audience about your highs and lows. It’s what makes you accessible, human and real. In a world of fakery, people need real. It’s refreshing.
Be a force for good
Wherever you can, show how your business is making the planet better. Are you helping beyond your organisation’s core function? Are you somehow servicing the community? Do you have a strategy to help do your bit to reduce the environmental impact of your business? Even in adults, peer pressure is surprisingly effective. Modelling compassion, thoughtfulness and care for the planet is a great way to help others do the same. (and it makes you look amazing!)
So that’s enough of me on my high horse for today! I know there are people who will disagree with me, and that’s perfectly OK. I welcome the debate. I’d love to hear how you engage with social media, and what you feel needs to change about it. Give me a shout out here on the blog, or via my socials and let me know your thoughts!