Social networks (or social media) have become an important part of our everyday lives. Around half of the world’s population use social media, with an average of 2 hours and 23 minutes spent per day. Rare are the people who are not yet hooked on social networks.
And it's no secret that they can be a big waste of time. Consequently I have deactivated, and reactivated my social networks many times in the past. To be honest, the temptation is so big, it's almost impossible to stay completely off the online networks.
Thus at some point, I stopped bouncing back and forth, decided to keep my social networks active, and to take a really smart approach towards managing social applications.
Social networks can be a good thing
First of all, I asked myself when social networks are an asset and when they are a liability. There’s a very clear answer to that. They can be an asset when you want to stay in touch with your friends across the globe, the ones you can’t meet in person very often.
They can also be a valuable source of information if you’re in the right groups and you properly adjust your newsfeeds. And they are absolutely an excellent marketing channel for the value you’re creating in life.
These are the three main ways how social networks bring value into your life:
- They can be an additional channel to communicate with people you love
- With the right setup they might be a source of useful information and provide access to new networks
- They are the most prominent marketing channel for you as a personal brand or your company's brand
On the other hand, let’s look at some sure ways of how social networks turn into a big liability, a burden in one’s life.
But they can also make you miserable
Stalking people you barely know is definitely a way how social networks can make you miserable.
Thinking how much other people enjoy life more than you, browsing all the beautiful photos they post, is definitely a way how social networks can psychologically damage you. And the reason why is obvious.
People post only the fun moments online, not their struggles. So, it might happen that you’re sitting in your office, procrastinating on some tough task, and instead of working, you are on social networks, looking at how people drink cocktails, travel the world, and party.
And that makes you feel bad, it can give you the feeling that other people are enjoying life more than you do. But that’s a fake representation of other people’s lives. Social networks are a very poor representation of real life.
From reading fake news to posting hate comments… just don't do it
There are many other ways how social networks can be a waste of time and damage you psychologically. For example, browsing fake news, posting hate comments, praying to God that you’ll get at least some likes on the photos you just posted, and so on.
That only creates social pressure in your life. An average person looks on their phone a few hundred times, opening one social network after the other, hoping to get some attention and likes, and stalking what other people do.
But that’s all fake. I’m sure nobody will say on their death bed, I wish I got more likes. Thus, let’s look at a few examples of how you can make sure social networks are not killing your productivity.
I’m pretty sure nobody will say on their death bed, I wish I got more likes.
A few core tricks to make sure social networks are not killing your productivity
First of all, research has shown that we all follow a social network loop.
That simply means that when you check the first social network, usually Facebook, you also tend to check out all other social networks, from Twitter to Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and so on.
You rarely open only one social network. Instead, you follow a certain loop, a certain behavior pattern. Thus, the best thing you can do is to reduce the number of social networks you use.
You don’t have to be on all of them. Two to three is more than enough.
The second thing you can do is to minimize the amount of time you spend on social networks. The best way to achieve that is to install an application that blocks all social media when you reach the set limit.
Let’s say you set a limit to 30 minutes of social networking per day.
It’s a very useful thing that helps you with self-discipline when it comes to social networks. And when you use the counter the first time, you might be shocked at how much time you actually spend on social media.
You know, every social media loop lasts for only 2 minutes or so. But if you do it 100 times, it sums up to 200 minutes.
The third step, after minimizing the loop and limiting your total time for social media, is to adjust your newsfeeds. Delete, unsubscribe, unfollow or unfriend all the people you don’t know, all mental masturbation, fake news and viral videos.
On the other hand, like, follow, subscribe to high-quality information – your role models, your industry news, motivational quotes, and so on. Make your newsfeeds a source of quality information and a network of people you admire or deeply care about.
Don't use social media on your mobile phone
The last step is to delete all social networking apps from your phone. I know, I know. On mobile phones, the social media user experience is so much better. It’s much harder to post status updates without a phone.
And you’re always connected to the world. But you have to decide whether you’ll be a digital producer or a consumer. By having social networks installed on your mobile phone, you’ll probably be more of a consumer.
And the last, the ultimate advice for social networks. Turn social media into your personal brand building channel. Make an awesome LinkedIn profile.
Share your own articles, quotes, accomplishments, services and products on social networks. See social networks as an opportunity to promote the value you’re creating.
Don’t be consumer of content on social media, be an online marketer instead. Build a strong personal brand on your social networks. Don’t waste your time on social media, use it to advance your career and show people all the awesome value you can create.