Taking a social media detox or break might just be what your business and life need. That’s what I’m betting on as I start (June 1, 2021) on mine.
Social media is a great tool, so I’m not here to bash it and tell you that it’s evil and to never use it. There can be a lot of benefits from social media, and I also think we need to take more control over how, when, and why we use it so it’s not controlling us, and we’re controlling it.
A few months ago, we watched the docu-drama, The Social Dilemma. It delves into how social media is reprogramming civilization and the insane algorithms specifically designed to keep us coming back again and again.
Have you ever heard of the study done with rats who were rewarded with either cocaine and sugar? The results…the rats chose the sugar more than the cocaine.
I believe if rats knew and understood social media; that if given the choice between cocaine, sugar, or social media, they would choose social media. It’s that addictive.
The problem is, we’re the rats. And every like, follow, heart, share, gives us that dopamine hit. So we keep coming back for more and more. To get our fix.
I don’t know how much you use social media, but I am a heavy user. From the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed. It controlled a lot of my life and I was tired of it and knew I needed a break when:
- I was tired of my constant phone routine and always having it nearby
- I started to get resentful, annoyed, and even jealous of people that I followed
- It left me feeling insecure
- Comparison paralysis overwhelmed me
- I felt like I was losing time
- I was always thinking about the next piece of content to create, the next photo, the next funny anecdote
- I wasn’t present in my life and felt like I was missing out on the world outside of my phone
Do you feel the same but worry that you can’t take a break (or quit!) because you need social media for your business? Then keep reading..
I told myself I needed it too. How would my business service without it? I had to be online everywhere or I wouldn’t make money. Then I decided to get curious about those thoughts. I asked myself, is all of this true? Why did I really feel this way? Was it more about the fear of missing out (FOMO as the kids say)? Was it an excuse?
Choosing a Social Media Sabbatical
I decided to find out if leaving social media (in the way I was using it) would hurt my business.
On June 1 st 2021 I woke up and grabbed my phone. I deleted Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram (my core 4 scroll obsessions). I grabbed my iPad and did the same.
Next, I went to my computer and installed the “news feed eradicator” plugin for Chrome and Firefox, which replaces your news feed with a quote. So you can’t endlessly scroll. You can still access groups, which was important to me because I’m in some paid groups that I get value from.
I went into every group that wasn’t valuable and left them. Over 40 groups, gone. That felt so so good.
Then I went into the rest of my groups (a lot of dog groups, what can I say?) and unfollowed/shut off notifications. Then I hit up Facebook settings and shut off every possible notification that I could.
Twitter was much easier. The news feed eradicator plugin already stops the feed, and I have zero need to go to the site because I rarely, if ever, get notifications on older tweets.
I also installed “Waste No Time” extension where I could outright block sites. So I added TikTok, Instagram, and Youtube to my blocked list. And I have them blocked Monday-Sunday from 12:00am-11:59pm. So all day every day.
As an extra measure, I changed the passwords to Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter to something really obscure and long and wrote those passwords down on a piece of paper (I did not save them in lastpass, which I use for everything) and tucked them away in a sealed envelope at the very top of my closet. Extreme? Maybe, and yet it made me feel powerful to take control.
I also made it difficult to go and grab the passwords because that meant I had to put forth a lot of physical energy and silence a lot of thoughts in order to get those passwords. I was hoping that I would think that it was too much effort and move on to something else (so far that’s worked!)
My Social Media Sabbatical Exceptions
Now you may have noticed that on my list of social media sites, I did not include Pinterest or LinkedIn. I consider Pinterest more of a search engine than a social media site. I do not get sucked into it. I don’t check it regularly, so it stayed.
I use LinkedIn for networking and plan to use it for lead gen over the next 90 days (more about that below). I do not endlessly scroll and instead spend most of my time in my DM’s. So it stayed.
Youtube is also more of a search engine and I did leave it on my phone, mainly because I use it to find things like, “how to clean my faux wood blinds” (a real search from this morning) and “why haven’t my basil seeds propagated yet”. Very important things, as you can see. If I spend 15 minutes a day on YouTube, it’s a lot.
Your mileage may vary and maybe you spend 5 hours a day on YouTube (*waves at my husband*) and Pinterest is your cocaine.
For me, the core 4 (IG, FB, Twitter, TikTok) were the ones that I needed to have more control over.
How am I going to get leads?
I’m going to cover a few things here. Some that I plan on doing and some that I don’t…because I make the rules!
Let your people know
I think there are many options outside of social media for lead gen, however, I want to mention that if you get a lot of your leads from social media, I would put a plan in place to make sure those leads still find you and understand where you’ve gone.
Now I get about 10% of my leads through social media, so not a lot but hey 10% is still 10%. So I updated my profiles to let people know that I was on a social media sabbatical and where to find me.
I highly recommend doing this so people who find you have a next step. And it might just spark an unexpected conversation (I received an email from someone that found my IG profile, saw my bio, and reached out because they would love to do the same thing but aren’t sure they can. I never expected this!)
Schedule content for social media
If you’re not like me and plan ahead, you can absolutely positively use social media scheduling apps to post the content for you. Or if you have a team or a VA, they can take over this task as well.
Now, the one downfall to this and I think it’s a big one is that social media for business is about creating connections and community. With posting and not engaging, there will be more of a one-way conversation and I do think that can hurt you.
But remember, you make the rules up for your social media sabbatical. Maybe you set up the Waste No Time extension to allow you 30 minutes a day on Instagram so you can reply to comments, engage with your ideal clients’ content, and answer any DMs. Maybe your VA does this for you. That’s purposeful usage and I’d likely do this if the majority of my leads were coming from social media…but they aren’t.
For me, I really want to see if it’s actually necessary to use social media for my business so for now, there will be no scheduling of content.
Ya know, like talking to people? Crazy!
My plan does involve a lot of networking and using LinkedIn to connect with new people, and also reconnect with people that I haven’t talked to in a while.
I started by making a list of 50 people that I already know that I can personally reach out to (some are via LinkedIn and some by regular old email). I want to let them know what I’m up to and also find out what they are doing. Planting seeds that may start sprouting tomorrow or in three months.
Then I will move on to connecting with 50-100 new people a month (who are in my niche) on LinkedIn. Getting to know them, engaging with their content on LinkedIn, trying to get natural and organic conversations going in DMs.
Have a list? Start emailing them regularly. Let them know what you are doing, if you have a new offer, if you are going on a social media sabbatical 😉
You can repurpose old content for this as well.
Don’t have a list? Start working on creating one. Use all this “extra” time to create and execute a plan to grow your list. Keyword: EXECUTE!
Use other people’s audiences
This is a great option even if you aren’t taking a social media sabbatical.
Getting in front of an audience that someone else has built might sound like you are using them but chances are, that person is looking for new content for their audience. They are looking for ways to bring fresh ideas to their channels and you are providing your knowledge and expertise to them and in return, they are sharing their audience with you. It’s a win-win.
Here are the top three ways that I plan to do this:
- Find podcasts that my niche is listening to and reach out to the creators about being interviewed
- Find blogs that my niche reads and reach out and offer to write a guest blog post
- Find websites or magazines that my niche reads and reach out and offer to write an article
The possibilities are endless. For example, maybe your niche is realtors. I would find 10-20 realtor associations, groups, boards, etc., and research the type of content they are creating. If they have a podcast, go listen to it and see what topics they’ve discusses and figure out where your expertise could fit in and then contact them and pitch your idea. Maybe they’re doing virtual training or seminars or conferences. Reach out and see where your expertise could be used. And if it’s not needed now, that’s okay. You’ve planted the seed. Follow up again in a few months and keep up with what they are doing so if you see an opportunity you can reach out faster.
Ads are always an option if you have the marketing budget for them and a good funnel in place. Without that, skip it or create one that you can test and iterate on until it starts performing.
I am working now on my funnel that will be for an ad campaign that I want to run over the next few months. I need to make a good deal of content for this still, including videos which I’m terrified to do but also excited to see where it goes.
I know I mentioned above that I was tired of creating content. And I am, but I’m tired of creating content that needs to be curated in a way that makes it most effective for social media.
When I say content here, I mean writing blog posts, email sequences, lead magnets, content upgrades, and/or a regular email newsletter. Content that I can control and reuse in various ways to inform, educate, and delight my ideal clients.
There’s also video and podcasts that fit into this category. Maybe your ideal client loves consuming podcasts. Start one! Or start creating videos on YouTube (again more of a search engine than social media in my opinion).
While SEO is absolutely positively a long game, I’ve been working on SEO for a long time and I am starting to reap the benefits. I also have older content that is ranking really well that could be refreshed a bit. I plan on working on some of that as well.
The “social media” site that drives most of my social traffic is…Pinterest.
I was surprised by this a few years ago and then as I dug deeper into my analytics the mystery was clear. Generally speaking, people on Pinterest on actively searching for something. They are in more of a buyer mode than browsing Instagram. They may be looking to solve a problem or learn something. I use Pinterest to drive more traffic to my site and plan to amp up that strategy over the next three months.
Whatever you decide to focus on for your lead gen, make a plan and be consistent. If you want to publish one podcast a week, be all in. If you want to write two blog posts a month and write two guest articles, commit and make it happen.
It’s when we half-ass our marketing strategy, when we don’t show up in the way we promised, that we fail to see the results we want.
Am I quitting social media permanently?
Honestly? I don’t know. As of right now – 10 days into my social media sabbatical – I can’t imagine not seeing my dog friends on Facebook ever again (I have a lot of friends that are actual dogs and I love them, don’t judge me!).
And I also feel so much better mentally in such a short period of time. I’m 10 days into this 90-day experiment and I have already seen a huge positive impact on my life.
- I spend so much more time with my dogs and husband.
- I’m reading physical books (not listening to them while juggling 10 other things).
- I am more focused and productive for longer spans of time.
- Most of my work is done by 2 pm (if not earlier).
- I am cooking more.
- I feel this light inside that I can’t remember ever feeling before.
- I’ve been spending my afternoons swimming and being outside without a screen in sight.
- I’ve had more meaningful conversations with my friends via text and phone calls.
- I’ve been sleeping better.
- I’ve been making legit progress on some of the goals that I’ve been talking about doing forever but never made time for.
What could happen after 80 more days of this? I don’t know and I am so excited to find out.
Is it right for you?
Do you want to be a rat or in control? I think for the majority of our society, social media usage is out of control and that most people could benefit from readjusting, tweaking, detoxing, or leaving social media.
The choice is yours though and only you know what works for you.
You can choose to your social media, or not.
You can choose to outsource it, or not.
You can choose to control it, or not.
You can choose to adjust it, tweak it, adapt new ways to use it, grow out of it, or not.
On you can decide if quitting social media or taking a break from social media is the right choice for you and your business.
I’m determined to make it work for me and my business. I’m fully committed, I’m all in, I’m going BIG (not in front of people) because it already feels like the right choice.
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(she/her) I’m a brand strategist, award-winning designer, business consultant, and artist. You can usually find me being followed (herded) by a pack of dogs with paint on my face. I dream of living on a huge farm with a bunch of goats, chickens, and dogs. And my husband too.