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Social media is a powerful tool that can help us connect with new people, share ideas, and bring the world closer together. At its core, social media truly is a brilliant innovation and luxury we have in the 21st century, if it is used properly. However, it’s important to recognize we do not live in a utopian society where rainbows and unicorns rule the social media landscape. Over recent years, there have been innumerable studies suggesting that social media is addictive and leads to poor mental health outcomes. As a business owner in the wedding industry, I do believe it is important to maintain some form of social media presence, so your couples can see some of your work and what you are all about. However, social media is truly a balancing act and fixating on it too much can be detrimental to your business as well as your well being. Here are a few tips to control your social media so it doesn’t control you.

Tip #1 Limit your time – This is by far the best tip I can offer to anyone about social media. Limit your time on each platform. If you don’t, you will find yourself checking it way too many times throughout the day and you’ll begin feeling like your social media is controlling you. I only check my social media 2 times a day, for 15 minutes at a time. Once in the morning and once in the evening. Be very deliberate and intentional with how and when you are using it. I would highly recommend some structured schedule and when that time is up, you’re off. Before I began implementing this, I found myself passively picking up my phone and checking in, which is a HUGE time thief in your day! Don’t fall into this trap and remember, their goal is to keep you on the platform as long as possible. If you don’t control your time, someone else will.

Tip #2 Don’t check your social media before you go to bed – I know, I know, it’s incredibly tempting to lay in bed right before you’re about to fall asleep and check your timeline. What’s the harm in that? Let’s picture this scenario for a moment. Let’s say it’s 11 P.M. and you’re chilling right before bed scrolling through instagram, and see it. A post that sends your blood pressure through the roof. You’re boiling, upset, angry, vexed, you name the adjective. Your heart rate increases and your body just released a healthy dose of adrenaline and cortisol, the hormones used when you’re about to fight for your life or run for it. This is all happening MINUTES BEFORE YOU’RE ABOUT TO FALL ASLEEP. Now it’s 3 A.M. and you’re finally settled down enough to where you might be able to get a solid 4-5 hours of sleep. We’ve all seen a post like this that, as Peter Griffin would say, just grinds your gears. Don’t fall victim to this, it is simply not worth it. Throw your phone in airplane mode or turn off completely at least an hour before you’re about to get to sleep.

Tip #3 6 P.M. – This is the latest I will check social media during a normal working day because it gives me enough time to unwind and decompress from it before I go to sleep. After that, I am off social media and I am only answering urgent text messages and I have to tell you, this routine has drastically improved my sleep quality as well as my overall well being. Trust me, the posts will still be there in the morning.

Tip #4 Silence – Turn off all the notifications for your social media. I truly believe this to be an absolute necessity for responsible and healthy social media use for a number of reasons. Think about this, why do platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter desperately beg you to turn your notifications on? You guessed it. To get you on and scrolling. If you’re scrolling, they’re making money. It is completely and totally unnecessary to be notified every time someone likes your photo or follows you. You will still see it when you log back in during your scheduled time. Not seeing a notification pop up every 5 seconds will help you focus on what you need to get done and will keep you from the temptation of seeing what the notification is all about.

Tip #5 Check yourself before you wreck yourself – Seriously though, it is important that you are monitoring your time on social media and you have substantial data that what you are saying is what you are doing. When I first committed to no more than 30 minutes on social media a day, I told myself I was going to do it, but the analytics said otherwise – I was spending more like an hour plus on these sites. How could this be?! It turns out that even when you log on for a minute or two, it adds up pretty quickly when you’re doing it several times a day. Which is why I recommend only checking your socials twice a day. However, if you don’t want to commit to that you must keep track of your time. Apple’s Screen Time feature is an innovative way to monitor how much time you are spending on your phone. You can even set time limits for certain applications!

Tip #6 Plan your posts – How much time do you spend curating posts, researching hashtags, and doing all the things you’re “supposed to be doing” on social media? Probably a lot, especially if you are not using a social media management software. Take one day out of each month (I prefer the last Monday of each month) to plan ALL of your social media posts for the upcoming month. I’m talking about all of it. Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, wherever you are going to post, plan it out. If you can afford it, Loomly is an incredible platform that allows you to go in and plan each post without having to go on each site. Not only does this keep you off of social media, but this planning process will save you SO MUCH TIME each and every month. I have estimated that I am saving close to 15 hours each month by planning ahead and preparing posts in advance. Do yourself the favor and feel the social media burden lift from your shoulders.

Tip #7 Mute – One of the most unhealthy, toxic and at this point cliche aspects of social media is that it has developed into a breeding ground for comparison. We are constantly analyzing the lives of others and comparing them to our own with one study showing that this type of behavior occurred in 78% of social media interactions during a controlled trial. Furthermore, these types of interactions are leading to “depressogenic interpersonal behaviors, and depressive symptoms” among other things according to another study. These types of behaviors happen in both upward and downward comparison. Meaning that even if you are “doing better than someone” (upward comparison) depressive symptoms still prevailed. If left unchecked, social media can do more harm than good for some people. Now, in the wedding industry, I do believe it is amicable to interact with other businesses in your area, even if they are your competitors. However, if you are finding yourself drained after checking social media, do yourself a favor. Find the posts that are consistently making you feel that way and mute the user. You don’t have to unfollow them, but muting them, even if it is temporarily, can play a dramatic role in combating comparison. Muting someone on social media is not the “weak person’s mentality.” There are peer reviewed, scientific data backing up these claims. Be mindful and don’t be afraid to mute when you need to.

Tip #8 Outsource if you can – Most celebrities don’t manage their own social media. Now, we’re not celebrities, but we can benefit from the practice of outsourcing social media to someone else. If you can afford it, I would strongly, strongly recommend outsourcing your social media to a virtual assistant. These virtual assistants are relatively inexpensive and can do a majority of the liking and posting for you if you want to stay off social media. The reason celebrities outsource their social media is because their time is valuable and they would probably be better served doing something else. The same can be said for you. If you can find an inexpensive way to automate the process of social media, I promise your time will be better served creating and growing your business.

Tip #9 Stop posting every day – Last month, I read a novel suggestion from a marketing blogger: In order to grow your instagram account, you need to be posting 3 times a day. What…. That is absolutely ludicrous. Okay, maybe not if you are trying to play the algorithm game, but to me, this is totally unreasonable and unnecessary. 3 times a day to me sounds like social media is controlling my life, not the other way around. I personally focus on quality over quantity as well as ideas and art I am truly inspired by. Don’t post just to post.

Tip #10 Social media isn’t everything – It is important to understand the place of social media in our lives and doing so can really help ease the tension we feel from it. Businesses existed and thrived before social media and they will continue to do so long after it is gone. We are so fixated on algorithms and a “secret code” to lead us to some “promise land” of instagram fame, this and that, we forget behind social media accounts are REAL PEOPLE. I’m baffled at how many of us are trying to create “content” for an abstract algorithm rather than creating something we are truly happy with and actually want to share with real people. I feel like we have truly lost our way with social media as a population and I believe we need to get back to creating real meaning, not just “content.” I would much rather see you spend your time creating beautiful pieces for your website, something you actually own (read instagram’s terms of use policy) that you can promote across any platform. The bottom line is that social media is a great way to connect with people, but it is not the do or die of your business.

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