Taking Control of Social Media
By Tracey Dowdy
Ever feel like social media is more work than it is worth? Does FOMO push you to constantly update or check your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr…I’m exhausted just typing that!
Maybe it’s time to take control of your social media presence instead of having it control you.
Curate your accounts
Stop and consider which aspects of social media are valuable to you and then cull the herd. Trying to stay connected to professional opportunities and trends? Go with LinkedIn. Looking to stay connected to family and friends? Facebook has well over a billion active users every month. Looking for an unfiltered, real time micro-feed of what’s happening? Choose Twitter. The key is to choose unique platforms whose features don’t overlap.
Change your habits
Is checking your phone the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night? Studies have shown that the blue light from your screen tricks your brain into thinking it’s time to get up and though you may think you’re mindlessly browsing, your brain is engaged, constantly scanning information, making it more difficult to fall asleep. Maybe you’re constantly distracted during the day, constantly checking in to see how many “Likes” the picture of your lunch got.
It’s easy to get sucked into a black hole and realize what started as a search for “Best streaming devices” has left you watching videos of models falling on the runway for the past 45 minutes. Time to change things up. Consider leaving your phone in another room at night or setting boundaries like, “I can check my Facebook after I finish these three tasks.” Little changes can make a big difference in your productivity and overall satisfaction.
Curate your feed
Take the time to go through your contacts and decide who still matters. It may sound cold, but if you’re no longer working at Company A, do you still need to have their team building posts show up in your feed? Is there someone whose posts only serve to irritate or make you feel inadequate? Time to let it go. Eliminating the accounts that are irrelevant or annoying is liberating. Not only will you no longer see their feeds, the algorithms social networks use intuitively curate your feed in such a way that you’ll see more of what is meaningful to you. Plus, it’s not as time consuming as it sounds. Apps like Crowdfire will collate your accounts and let you unfollow in bulk, while others like SproutSocial will help you search for sites and individuals that are relevant to your interests.
Sites like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, and Buffer can help you organize and manage your accounts. Create and schedule your updates from one location, once a day or once a week. Obviously you can jump in to make changes or post updates at any time, but they’re a great way regain control and simplify your life.
Do you really need to know every time one of your friends posts on social media? For some, it’s a welcome distraction but for others it’s well, just a distraction, minus the welcome. Take five minutes to go to your settings and turn off notifications for any – or all – those feeds. You’ll be surprised at how little you miss them.
Take a break
Finally, consider stepping back and disconnecting. A constant stream of information can become overwhelming and the good starts to get muddied by the irrelevant and the irritating. A break even for a day or two can help you reset, leaving you refreshed instead of overloaded. Disengaging may seem like a frightening prospect, but that’s also a reflection of how deep that addiction runs.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.