Have you checked your “screen time” app recently? Pretty much every time I do it, I get a little uncomfortable. Granted, my job requires me to spend time on social media, but it certainly does not make up the majority of that time. I, like many of you reading, and addicted to my phone.
However, there’s good news: social media is not inherently bad. While many of us waste our time on these various social platforms, there are plenty of people who actually get a lot of benefit from them. The difference? They have optimized their experience.
While each of you may have different methods which work for you, I’ve experimented and found these 5 ways to have a better social media experience:
- Stop following accounts with which you vehemently disagree
Why do so many of us purposefully follow accounts we hate just so we can be reminded of why we disagree with them? It’s crazy!
Why do we do this? In actual life, you’d never do this, right? If you see someone you dislike, you do whatever it takes to avoid that person. So, what is up with the phenomenon people call “hate-following?”
I was quite interested in understanding this, and after searching Google, apparently many others are as well. Dr. Sean O’Connell, a registered psychologist in Dublin, Ireland, was recently interviewed by Stellar Magazine’s Victoria Stokes, who asked him why so many of us follow accounts we don’t like.
He answered, “It can be a range of factors. We might feel that they have wronged us in some way, that we can’t challenge them, or that we are holding on to some ‘unfinished business’ with them. It can be jealousy, envy, resentment. A significant factor is comparing and contrasting, especially in social media.”
Whatever your “reason” is, odds are it’s a bad one. If you follow an account with, say, a differing political view so that you can deeply understand their arguments, then that’s about the only exception. However, if you constantly find yourself angry or sad about the content those accounts post, do yourself a favor and hit “unfollow.” Life is too short to waste your emotional energy!
- Follow accounts which provide positive and informative content
Now that we’ve unfollowed all the pointless content on our timeline, now we need to fill it! Obviously, friends and family can take priority #1 here. After all, it is SOCIAL media. However, how many of you have found yourselves spending just as much time on branded accounts as you do your friends’ pages?
It’s very easy to do, and with as much time as we spend on our phones, it will absolutely affect our attitude. Following accounts which promote positivity & productivity, naturally, will help keep you focused on being positive and productive. Think of it this way: If you REALLY want to optimize your life, then you need to audit what you’re consuming on these platforms. Take the time to be cognizant of what takes your social time- you might just find out how much is wasted.
- Understand the amount of time you spend on social media
Notice how I didn’t immediately say “limit” or “drastically reduce.” For many today, social media is a main source of income. In our society, social media carries so many implications to personal life, business, etc. that many actually depend on it for their livelihood.
Social media is not inherently good or bad, it’s what you do with it that carries the moral burden. If you depend on social platforms for a living (like I do), then the conversation needs to shift from the outdated “technology is bad” method.
Focus less on limiting your time, and more understanding WHY you are spending that much time. If you sell a product through Shopify and have a multi-channel approach to sell that item, obviously you need to be spending time on social media so you can understand your audience, engagement analytics, ad spend, etc. However, if you’re just going on every 5 minutes to check on random memes or sports highlights, then THAT’s your opportunity to audit the time spent on these apps.
- Turn on post notifications for your favorite accounts
This is a simple yet effective way to optimize your social media experience and make sure that you are consuming the content you wish to see. You’ll be notified every time this account posts on their timeline, and you will also see their FB statuses, Tweets, or Instagram stories as one of the first few options.
Also, apps like Instagram have developed algorithms dedicated to optimizing this experience for you, so the more you visit certain accounts, the more frequently their content will be at the top of your feed, or one of the first Instagram stories. If you are wanting to cut down your social media time in general, then following your top accounts will allow you to quickly read and engage with the top few posts, and then log off without having to dig through hours of pictures and videos.
- Provide valuable content yourself
Part of the fun in becoming a part of a social community is contributing to the fun! Especially if you are using these platforms as a networking opportunity, you should be actively engaged within the community you are trying to reach.
Want to start selling furniture online? Find the top 30 furniture hashtags on Instagram, understand their theme, and then start sourcing/posting content with that focus. Want to make music? Share your videos for free on social media, and engage with other artists to find out what they like and want. Then, deliver it.
Social media can waste 6 hours of our day, and it can also be a stepping stone toward a thriving life and social community. It all depends on how we use it!