Does social media bring you down? Is Instagram causing you anxiety? If you said yes, you’re certainly not alone.
According to HuffPost, 60% of people using social media reported that it has impacted their self-esteem in a negative way.
This topic has been in my mind in the past week or so, since when I was answering a branding questionnaire about my business:
“Are there aspects of your business that carry sentimental value?”
To which I said, “yes! Instagram can make a lot of people feel good or bad about themselves. Even if it’s their business Instagram. Improving their Instagram feeds can improve their self-esteem and impact their happiness.”
Today, I drove home from work listening to Ban.do founder Jen Gotch‘s podcast, and the episode was Are We Addicted To Social Media. She talks about social media, especially Instagram, and how it can affect your emotional and mental health.
We are all different people. While to me it definitely feels good to get positive comments and engagement on Instagram, when I don’t, it doesn’t get to me on a personal level. I view Instagram (and social media) pretty objectively, and I also know enough about how it works not take it personally if a post flops.
So I thought I’d share some facts and suggestions for you to repeat to yourself, when you start getting caught in this trap.
Here’s why your Social Media success shouldn’t define your self worth:
1) Instagram engagement has dropped for EVERY SINGLE ACCOUNT.
It has nothing to do with your looks, your body, your content, your stories, your business or your personality. It has to do with the fact that there are twice as many Instagram accounts compared to two years ago, and the fact that people follow more and more accounts, so they see less. And the tendency is that it will keep dropping, so please keep that in mind.
2) There is an algorithm, and you shouldn’t take that personally.
The Instagram algorithm will favor posts with the highest production level, all the best practices, and posts that were published at a time your audience is active (which can totally be a hit or miss). Those things have to do with people’s and brand’s resources, not worth.
3) You can’t tell the whole story by looking at someone’s Instagram account.
Please remember that before you compare yourself. That photo that shows a “perfect” body or an amazing looking product can be highly doctored. Their high Instagram numbers can mean bought followers and likes. Maybe that successful business they portray on their account is actually bankrupt. Maybe that perfect relationship they talk about in their sunset couple shot is not nearly as perfect as the photo. Everyone has their struggles.
On the other hand, remember that you’re in control of the content you consume. On her podcast, Jon Gotch has a suggestion we can TOTALLY get behind. It’s simple:
Think of 5 accounts that don’t add anything positive to your life and unfollow them.
It could be a competitor’s account that makes you feel insecure about your business, an influencer account that makes you feel unworthy, an ex-boyfriend that you love to hate. Unfollow, unfollow, unfollow.
Then find 5 accounts that make you happy and inspired and follow them.
A hilarious meme account, cute pets, a body positive influencer, art, any great account related to your hobby, all these will do.
If you need a few ideas to get started, try @paulthecorgi (a grumpy dog with gorgeous art direction? yes, please!), @thehappynewspaper (sweet, fun and uplifting!), and @pablo,rochat (pure genius silliness).
For those of us using Instagram for business (bloggers included), here’s another great way to establish boundaries: plan your content ahead and set it to auto-publish.
It’s totally okay to disconnect on weekends. It’s not just okay, it’s recommended! People will understand if you don’t answer to them until Monday. There’s actually a big chance they will not be paying attention until then either. Use a planning app like Planoly or Later to create and schedule content ahead of time and take a break. You will not only feel better, but also avoid burnout.
If you’re going on vacation, you should do the same. Schedule your posts ahead for auto-publishing through Instagram partner apps. It’s okay if those posts don’t have location tags or tags on photo (most planning apps don’t allow you to do this yet). If you will be away for more than a couple of days, I just recommend you’d temporarily revise your bio to let people know. Something like: “currently on vacay! Will get back to all of you after [insert date here]”.
If you see a friend that is letting Instagram bring them down, step up to help. Share this article, share Jen’s strategy, and plan a phone-free weekend activity (a movie, spa day, a dance class).
There’s so much good that can come from social media especially for both our business and personal connections. We only need to protect ourselves from the negatives and learn to find balance. For me, it’s to get better at disconnecting.
Take care of yourselves, you’re all amazing!
Manu, Founder of Your Social Team.