And not in the way you think!
Social media was supposed to be a great tool. A tool to share your opinions with friends and strangers, to celebrate the achievements and protest the disappointments. A tool to keep in touch with or find long-lost friends. A tool to educate and inspire. And it still is all those things. But recently, the infamous dark side of social media is becoming more…famous and the negative influence of it is mentioned and discussed more often. We have started to realize, that living our lives online has serious consequences and social media overload can really hurt our relationships, career and most importantly, our self-esteem.
Social media can mess with our brains.
To be honest I never believed that to be true. At least not in the most common way – comparison and jealousy of someone else’s life. Because if you spend a little time on Instagram or Facebook you realize, that in a way it’s not a real life. People usually show their highlights, leaving their “behind the scenes” aside. And even though a new trend is showing “the real you”, to be sharing your struggles and insecurities, the real, real, real life problems are left off the screen. Well, on one hand it’s a good thing.
So I was never comparing my real life to someone else’s screen life. I was never thinking: “ohh, they have money, so it’s easy for them to travel” or “she was gifted all those outfits, that’s why she has so many cute dresses” or “she looks too good, she must have had surgery”. That never bothered me.
There’s something else that broke my spirit!
If you want to use social media in a more professional way, to promote your brand, expand your business or to simply have some income from what you do online, you have to fully commit to it. Because if you spent some time trying to grow any kind of social media following, you know that’s it’s a full-time job. In case you didn’t, I’m telling you it is!
Unless you’re a Kardashian, or you were the first in the field, or you had a super creative idea that made you go viral, you usually have to bust your a** off and basically work 24/7 to get those followers, to drive this traffic, to have those views.
And this is where social media overload begins.
Because the more you’re trying and the more time you spend there, the more social media wants you. And man, do they want you. They want your commitment, they want your time and in the end, the want your money. And they know how to keep you there, by sporadically giving you likes and views and follows. But not too many though, just enough to make you stay and keep wanting more.
and I’m putting this “luckily” in quotations on purpose (you’ll see why) – there are some rules, some strategies, tips and tricks that “help” you grow. If you devoted some time on researching how to expand your social media following, you know that:
- to grow on Instagram you need to produce good quality content and engaging captions, show up on Stories daily, make Reels that are either educational or inspirational, engage with you current followers and potential followers…
- to grow on Tik Tok you have to post twice a day and be either funny or again, educational or inspirational, you have to catch viewers’ attention in the first second and keep it throughout the whole video because the viewing time counts…
- to grow on Pinterest which drives traffic to your website you need to create good quality, eye-catching pins, that are SEO optimized and pin at least a few times a day…
- to grow on Facebook…you need to have money. Honestly I don’t know how to grow on FB these days. It’s all based on ads and if you don’t want to spend months trying to figure out how they work, you have to hire an FB ad expert/agency, who also cost money…
- to grow on You Tube…I personally have no idea, because I’m not on, but I believe it’s all about informative or inspirational videos that keep the viewer interested until the end, and SEO optimazation in the title and description…
- to grow on Twitter you have to keep up with current events and make snappy comments about them. And engage with other Tweeters, Twitterers or whatever you call them… At least that’s what I think, because I’m also not on it.
There is more…
Not to mention, what should be the most important to you as an online entrepreneur, you need to have a website. And again: post high quality content, full of useful info, that is SEO optimized, eye-catching, easy to read and will make whoever (by any chance) comes across it, come back for more. To do that you should write at least one 1000 word article per week; preferably twice a week, find proper keywords; take, pick and edit photos; create pins for Pinterest, make it all look, sound and even smell good…and maybe in one or two months you will have luck that your blog post will land on the first page of Google.
This is an appropriate reaction when you do all those things by yourself.
Realistically you can’t be on everything at once (although I’m sure there are people who are) and you should pick and prioritize what’s the most important to you. But the truth is, that the more channels you have, the more you can diversify your offer when reaching out for collaboration with brands and companies.
But you’re not alone in all of that. “LUCKILY” at every turn there are online educators – accounts, websites run by “social media specialists” who are either willing to give you the information you need for free or want to convince you to buy their social media course. And in theory, that’s amazing. We live in an era where every piece of information, every piece of advice you might possibly want is just out there. Usually free to take. But the problem is that there’s too much of it.
The information is abundant.
Nowadays everyone can call themselves a “social media specialist” and feed you with growth strategies, tips and tricks and the best practices. No matter if you consciously choose it or not, you get hit with information from every angle. Accounts that you follow, accounts that you don’t follow, even your social media friends, everyone is competing to get a few seconds of your attention and make you consume more “useful knowledge”.
And social media overload continues.
Eventually you reach the point when instead of taking value from this free content that is thrown at your face, you start getting overwhelmed by it.
Everything you read or hear about growing a following on social media tells you what to post, how to post it, when to post it, what it should look like, how it should sound, how long it should be…With a focus on the main component: provide value, provide value, provide value! If you’re not growing, not driving this traffic or not getting those views it’s your fault, because you don’t provide enough value!
Provide more value! Be interesting! Be inspirational! Be educational! Be unique! Be creative!
That’s a lot of pressure!
So you sit there brainstorming the ideas, thinking of ways to provide value, adding all those tips and tricks from growth strategies to a now endless TO-DO list and you come to realize that you’ll never be able to meet all those requirements. You get overwhelmed, you get paralysed with the amount of stuff you should be doing and end up doing nothing instead. And then the guilt comes and the shame comes and the feeling like you’re just a big screw-up.
All this shared knowledge that was supposed to help you improve your skills, has the opposite effect – it makes you doubt yourself and everything you do. It makes you think, that even though you may have enough valuable content to share, that…
YOU ARE not enough!
Not enough to inspire, not enough to educate, not enough to make other people interested in what you share. You wouldn’t even follow you, so why should anyone else?
The worst part is, that “the first point” of your success is reflected in numbers that you have no real influence on. Even if you try your best, there are so many other factors that might prevent your social media from growing.
You can know all the strategies, provide all the value, make an amazing (in your opinion) video or write blog posts full of useful tips and feel like you did a great job. But then the post, the Reel, the Tik Tok gets pathetic reach and no recognition!
Raise your hand if something like that ever happened to you!
Add to that, comparisons with accounts similar to yours and
very quickly your self-worth becomes parallel to your online engagement.
There is one major problem with social media overload and the abundance of knowledge and information though. The powerful tips, the secret tricks, the hottest trends don’t work!
Ehh? What now?
Ok they do, but they are very circumstantial. You also need a bit of luck.
Imagine if social media growth strategies were 100% effective. Yes, you would have thousands of followers and millions of views, but so would everyone else. And everyone could make a crapload of money online.
The knowledge you’re receiving is not based on proven facts, on actual measurable data. Those are just assumptions, speculations, lucky guesses and practices that might have worked for someone, but it doesn’t mean they will work for you. None of the social media educators actually work for Instagram, for Facebook, for Pinterest. If they would, you wouldn’t be hearing from them.
Only once in my 2 years of this “Insta game” did I gain a lot of followers in a short amount of time. When one of my Reels went kind of viral. Why did this particular one go viral? I have no idea. I tried to analyse it and compare it to all the other Reels, but I didn’t come to a reasonable conclusion. It was luck.
Because the truth is, that organic social media growth is slow.
Yes, there are techniques and strategies that can help you expand your following, but it all takes a long time and hard work.
And unfortunately, living in an era of instant gratification, we want everything fast.
So how can you stay sane in this social media overload-ed world?
How can you not let this abundance of knowledge and information overwhelm you? How to know and choose what’s useful information and what’s noise. How can you not let others define your self-esteem?
You tell me!
Unlike all the experts, I don’t have all the answers.
But here are some suggestions, the things I’ve tried and the things I’m planning on trying to help minimise social media overload and regain a healthy, or as healthy as possible relationship with social media.
1. Moderation is key
I suppose, like with everything in life, things that come in moderate doses make us enjoy and appreciate them more. If it’s eating, watching Netflix, playing videos games or scrolling through social media – setting boundaries is essential. The easiest thing you can do today is to stop going on social media first thing in the morning and last thing at night. The same rule applies to news intake – no matter if it’s news in general, or social media news we have to limit the time we’re exposed to them. So…
2. Pick your online educator
and stick to their content, their knowledge and their pieces of advice. Like I said, nowadays everyone can call themselves a social media expert. That’s why it’s important to have someone who is knowledgable and has a “social proof” standing behind their practices. For me that person is Christina Galbato who’s courses, blog posts and podcast are always full of up-to-date, useful information.
And all those articles and videos titled: “This tip will get 200k followers in one week” – swipe, skip, ignore. There’s no point in wasting your time.
3. Take a social media break
When you reached the point when scrolling through Instagram makes you want to smash your phone against the wall – it’s time for a break! And there’s nothing wrong with taking a social media break. You can use this time to take a step back, reevaluate the reasons why you got on social media in the first place, rebrand if needed, acquire a new perspective on your content or simply not think about your online hustle at all.
Yes, you will most likely lose a few followers, but the ones who like you for who you are and for the content you post, will stay and wait for you. Your mental health is way more important.
4. Accept that there are things you can’t control
Like THE ALGORITHM. Oh yes, the evil algorithm! The bane of everyone who’s trying to make it online! It bans us, it cuts our reach, it prevents people from seeing our content. Well, that’s not true. An algorithm is actually a good thing. Thanks to the algorithm you’re not seeing content of MMA fighters when you’re interested in travel. And thanks to the algorithm your own content is being shown to people who care about it. But how it really works – no-one knows. We can just speculate.
Apart from the algorithm there are at least 30 different factors that can influence the performance of your post, like: where you are, where your followers are, what you wrote, how long was the thing you wrote, where is the photo from, what colour scheme your photo has, how often you’ve been on the app, how many ads you’ve clicked on…and so on! I don’t know if those are the parts of the algorithm. Maybe. Maybe not.
So, sometimes your post will do worse than usual. It sucks, I know. But instead of dwelling on it you can…
5. Focus on the things you can control
The quality of your content, the value of your message, the relationship with your community – those are the things you have a real influence on. You can’t predict what “the algorithm” will do with your post. But you can make it the best quality possible and value your “social media worth” based on that. Not on the numbers. I know that it’s easier said than done. And in a perfect world, quantity should follow quality. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. But in the end you want to be followed by people who are truly interested in your content, can relate to it and value you as a person. So quality wins again.
6. Don’t compare
“His/her photos are so sh**, why are they getting so many likes”? If you can swear on your life and tell me that a thought like this never crossed your mind, I’ll cook you a 3 course dinner. Good luck with eating that.
We can go down a comparison rabbit hole very quickly, especially if we struggle with our self-esteem outside social media. But you never know the circumstances of someone else’s popularity. Maybe they spend 20h a day engaging, maybe they found a great niche they fit in or maybe they actually bought their likes and followers. Well, that’s not for you to judge. But no matter if it’s the number of followers, body image or size of their house, just take a step back and remember that every person’s situation is different and nothing good comes out of the comparison.
7. Unfollow everyone who makes you feel bad
No matter if it’s a big or small account, if you were once Insta or even real friends. If what they post, how they post it, what they represent makes you feel bad, stupid, ugly, fat, thin, worthless, talentless, like a loser, or as simple as it is – they just annoy you, unfollow, unsubscribe, say: Arrivederci, Au revoir and Sayonara.
Unfollowing people who evoke negative emotions or simply “don’t do anything” for you is an important step to having a healthy relationship with social media. Especially, if they annoy you so much, that you just follow their adventures waiting for something unpleasant happen to them. It doesn’t necessarily have to be understood as a criticism or a dismissal of those people. In real life, we’re trying to avoid spending time with people who irritate us, so why should it be different on social media.
8. Be proud of what you do online
“Oh so you want to be an influencer?” Pose on the beach with a coconut and call it a job? Get a real one!” In most people’s mind if you’re not a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a construction worker or you don’t go to the office and idly stare at your computer for 8 h a day, you’re not working. No matter how miserable this job would make you feel. The more miserable the better. Then you truly feel you deserved your salary.
So it’s hard to understand that being an “online persona” can be a job too. Especially that the word “influencer” has such bad connotations. But there are worse occupations than a blogger or even an influencer – a politician for instance (in my opinion).
So no matter if it’s your full time job or a side hustle, as long as it goes along with your standards, there’s nothing shameful in being or even in trying to make it online. Especially that you know how much work it all takes.
So be proud of it and believe in yourself. Because if you don’t, no-one will
All tips on preventing social media overload sound great (or at least I hope so), but it takes hard work to implement them. When you’re showered with numbers and statistics, you constantly have to keep reminding yourself, that the quality is what matters. And it ain’t easy.
But building a great community around you and bi***ing about Instagram together really helps, I promise.
I also realize, that knowledge overload is not the most common overload you can get from social media. It’s just something I’ve struggled with for some time already and it started to really influence my self-worth. So also as a form of therapy, I decided to put it all in words. Even though this topic is not in my niche at all. OMG how could I do that?
Constant stream of information about what you should be doing to succeed, in any field really, can be destructive instead of helpful. In the case of social media overload you can easily lose your purpose and get overwhelmed by all the things you supposedly have to be doing which can quickly lead to lowering your self-esteem.
Let’s not let it happen!
If you’re also feeling the effects of social media overload, leave a comment or hit me up on Instagram.
And check out what I usually write about: TRAVEL, TRAVEL, TRAVEL!
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