Find out why I stopped fighting social media algorithms and have started to make the positive of social media work for me.
First of all, look at the title. It only occurred to me recently that I was doing more fighting instead of enjoying social media. It wasn't always like this . . .
I've talked about the shift I've been feeling for a while and over time it really has just gotten worse. But what does worse even mean?
What is a social media algorithm?
An algorithm is how social media platforms filter, rank and organize the content we see based on a specific set of criteria. This means that what we see is based on what the algorithm THINKS we want to see while prioritizing content that is paid for or sponsored by the creator.
Over time, these free platforms drove business and profits into the hands of many. They successfully created a two way street for business profits and the honeymoon is over. . . it's time to pay up.
Organic reach in social media has been on the decline as far as I can remember. Both Facebook and Pinterest have become a more 'pay to play' service for business owners and the like.
It seemed like Instagram was doing the same, but not as much. That is until the last year or so. Instagram did highlight very recently that they are putting organic reach BEHIND paid content.
I knew this was happening, but seeing this as well as a snapshot of the email below by Diane Sanfillipo who has seen the shift and decided to stop posting long-form content on Instagram.
Honestly, I don't blame a company for creating a demand and then charging for it. It's what a lot of us do. It's BUSINESS.
The more I poured my heart into Instagram especially, the more I realized how shitty it felt to do so when so little people saw it, and it all just went away in 24 hours. And lets be honest, who honestly goes back and scrolls through old posts of someone anymore, I know I dont.
I needed to re-evaluate how I use the parts I like about social media without it affecting my mental health but also without walking away from everything that I built.
This isn't my first rodeo. I've gotten to my breaking point quite a few times, once that I've documented in my Summer Instagram Detox.
The thing is that it always comes back to being ON or OFF. I can never seem to find a balance in the grey area.
- How do I still share without being consumed by comparison?
- And how do I stop the cycle of becoming completely addicted to validation and feedback when I post something?
- How do I sit in line at a grocery store without scrolling to pass time. Can't I just . . . absorb what's around me?
Luckily, being "on" in real time lately has made me feel like shit. I am at a place in life where my growth is in a brand new direction into motherhood. While I am excited for this chapter, it is a HUGE departure from what I've known for so long. I've been vulnerable and uncomfortable in a lot of ways.
And so, when I share my personal thoughts in posts and stories on IG here's what happens:
- I tend to contradict myself. Anticipating a space in life I don't know much about makes me insecure and uneasy. I tend to say things I later don't mean or vice versa. At some point, it feels easier to keep those feelings for close friends to hear or a journal to write in.
- PEOPLE DRIVE ME CRAZY! I am not talking about everyone, because most people that follow me I truly enjoy. However, since I've gotten pregnant there are so many people coming out of the woodwork that not only tell me what to do, but they are also SO QUICK to point out how shitty I am about to feel in motherhood. I stopped responding to ANY comments or direct messages that made me feel this way, and sadly it's been a lot. The whole "aww, you're so cute that you think you can do this as a mom." or the "Don't worry, it's about to get worse!" tones kill me. I would NEVER go out of my way to tell a stranger at a vulnerable time that they are doing something wrong AND headed for shittier times as icing on the cake. It makes me truly think about how I interact with others by meeting them where they are.
- I've dropped out of the hustle for now: I am 34 years old having my first child. There are so many people I know that have had children much earlier. Gone are the days of constantly tending to their kids and now they have at least a little time to put back into their careers or selves. Seeing others in their hustle or growth season make me mourn my own. Obviously, I know this is temporary and I'm not ancient, but it still stings. This results in many people I just can't watch or keep up with any more, EVEN ONES I LOVE. When I say it's nothing personal, it really isn't. Setting my boundaries and protecting my feelings have to be a priority over all else. Feelings may be hurt, and engagement between others and myself are at an all time low . . . but so be it.
- CREEPS!: Ok, I've had my fair share of strange DM's from time to time but there has been quite a few instances lately that have made me step back and change some things. For instance, I don't post in real time anymore. Even if I am with trusted friends or my husband, you never know when someone can see where you are and follow you home. Once I got a few comments from strangers I don't know that don't even live here telling me they cant wait to pet my dog or hold my baby, I just holed up a bit.
But I LOVE SHARING my life!
This is where it gets complicated. I've had a blog since 2010. I love sharing my life through words and youtube videos and Instagram just seemed like a perfectly compact place to do it all. But, I don't feel that way anymore because it keeps me looped in this world where you have to keep up to stay in the game. I recently took a week off and lost traffic, engagement and 200 followers. To keep growing you need to keep sharing but at least for me, it comes out a cost I'm not willing to pay right now.
So what am I doing to use social media without losing my mind?
- I stopped posting in real time. There is honestly no need for me to be giving a play-by-play of my life to anyone but those are physically in it. This doesn't mean there aren't ways to consume my content, it just means it will most likely be shared at a later time.
- I'm using social media simply as a way to let others know that content exists rather than BEING the content. This means more meaningful blog posts and more Youtube videos I can share with everyone after they are created.
- I've taken all social media apps off my phone. I know we've all tried this before, but there is a loophole I've ALWAYS used and I figured out a way to cut that out too. Even if you take an app off your phone, you can still use your search engine app to actually go to your web-based social media pages. I have always done this with Facebook. Instead of using the Facebook app, I would just go to facebook.com on my phone. Of course, functionality is not the same but you were still able to receive addictive notifications. The solution? I've done some research and figured out you can add a list of websites to your phone under Adult Content that become restricted and blocked. I put Facebook and Instagram on that list and now I can't get to them without at least 3 minutes of changing my settings. By then I am able to realize if I REALLY need to see my social media. Of course, I do enjoy going on social media every now and then, so I don't mind changing the settings. One of my friends recently suggested that I consider getting a new internet service provider, like infinity dish, to make sure I can get onto Facebook and Instagram more easily. This would also ensure that things load a lot quicker, making the process faster. Perhaps changing my internet provider would be a good idea, maybe I'll consider it as I do still use the internet for blogging.
- I use Tailwind to schedule all social media. I first started using Tailwind for Pinterest but once they came out with Tailwind for Instagram, I started paying $10/mo after the free trial. I find the price TOTALLY worth it as it saves me time creating captions and allows me to check on comments and engage on my terms.
- I only use social media on my laptop. For the time being, if I want to look at other peoples content, engage or create my own, I must march upstairs and get on my laptop. Sometimes I spend a while catching up and sometimes I spend 10 minutes. This has helped me TREMENDOUSLY because it doesn't cut me off completely, but it really does help me do more productive things with those pockets of time I would have otherwise wasted. Also, my phone has become a source of actual information. I find I am doing more research on topics and reading articles instead of seeing what smoothie bowls people ate. I find actually learning information to be much more valuable.
- I'm scheduling IG stories. As far as I am concerned, personal stories are taking a back seat this summer. I can't say I won't ever resume them but I know they don't feel right at this time. They are valuable in getting content out there so I am trying out an app which lets you pre-schedule stories so I can let others know when a blog post or life update exists.
At the time of writing this, it's almost been a full week since I've let everything go. I swear giving up social media is a phased process. At first you are so antsy and pick up your phone so many times before realizing there's nothing to distract you.
Then you feel the loneliness of not being able to see what others are up to. You wonder if your friends will actually contact you or if you've just been filtered out with so many others for them to keep track of.
But also, there is a huge sense of peace. Knowing I can't scroll mindlessly through the lives of others whenever I want makes me stop and smell the roses. I often stare into the sky or at a wall or read a book or write a blog post.
I like that people don't know where I am at the moment or what I am thinking about. If they are curious, they know how to reach me just as I have began to reach out to others NOT based on what I've seen them post.
Life is more simple and precious away from the screen. The ability to take in more of what matters is under-rated. Sure, I do look forward to my time on my laptop where I get to check everything, but it's not ingrained as a huge part of my life right now.
I don't imagine that I'll do this forever because seasons are always changing, but it's good for me now!
To keep up with me:
Sign up for my email list where I send a weekly email of all posts including recipes, blog income reports and the latest youtube videos about our lives.
Find me on Facebook. For some reason it is much easier to answer and engage on a laptop through facebook than it is on the PC app or web-based versions of Instagram.
Subscribe to our Youtube Channel. I've been ramping up the content on here that is basically like one long instagram story with a beginning and end. I love these because they are intimate documentation of the season we are at in life that we will have to look back on forever!
I'd love to hear your thoughts on using social media less and if anything resonated with you! Leave a comment below!