Do you use social media to share your artwork or small business? Ever found yourself checking in with your notifications, messages and insights way too much or distracted constantly by scrolling through the never ending content?
It's a problem I've found myself facing a lot lately, so I wanted to make a change to my own habits to avoid spending too much of my time checking in, procrastinating or becoming distracted. As a creative, a big part of sharing your work and building your business usually involves some form of social media. However as all of the social media platforms have been designed to pull us in and keep us active for as long as possible, it's inevitable that we find ourselves in these positions from time to time. A great book on this subject (I'd definitely recommend giving it a read), written by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky, called 'Make Time', describes these never ending scrolling apps as "infinity pools". A place we are drawn to that allows us to be transported instantly from one thing to another quickly and effortlessly. The quick hit of dopamine that comes with each notification, the increasing numbers and the positive reactions is the bit that becomes addictive. And then add in the fact that we rely on these platforms to promote our business, reach out to our community and eventually convert followers into clients and collectors, it's easy to see how we can spend way too much time focusing on the stats.
Social media is an amazing platform to bring people behind the scenes, share your progress and make connections, as well as building a client base and selling your work.
The pros of social media:
connecting with like minded individuals
Sharing your work with people across the globe
Building a community of followers who support you along your journey
Making connections with potential collectors or clients
Finding inspiration and ideas
The bad habits social media can create:
Checking notifications during your creative time. Notifications are designed to interrupt you; these can pull you away from your work/flow and create a distraction.
Focusing heavily on the insight tools. The tools supplied on any business social media account are very helpful when figuring out what works well with your audience and target market. However they are also designed to pull you in to always seek growth. Naturally we want to be liked (it's a human instinct) so these stats definitely play on that. The likes, comments, reach, engagement, growth, shares etc, etc, are things we can feel measured by, and so the cycle repeats every time a new post is created.
Comparing the numbers. You may find that you cross examine one post to the next, comparing the engagement and taking a lower result as a personal failure. Or perhaps comparing your numbers with other accounts in your niche. It can be very disheartening when you are excited to share something you have created and your post falls flat...I think we've all been there! But it can be harder to dust your self off and try again if you are constantly comparing your progress with others.
So... how can we make changes to reduce the time we spend obsessing over social media, being distracting from our creative practice, all whilst maintaining a great connection with our communities?
Here are a few tips, ideas and alternatives you can try. Some of which I have read in the book 'Make Time' mentioned above, discussed with others who reached out about this blog post or been personally trying out over the last couple of weeks.
Remove all notifications: Instead of responding instantly and being pulled away from your creative work, try turning off all notifications from the social media apps you use. This removes your phones ability to grab your attention and suck you in. After you make a post, leave your phone in another room or out of reach/sight, and then revisit (e.g.30 minutes) later to respond to any comments and engage with your audience. Once you have responded to the recent engagement, put your phone back in the same place and continue to work.
Set check-in times throughout the day: To avoid the temptation to keep checking in, moving your phone to a place that is out of sight and reach will help to keep it out of mind. You could then set times in your day that you use as your check-in times, maybe 2-3 times a day. This is a great way to keep on top of DM's and emails as well. If you find you keep thinking of things you need to check on your phone, jot them down on a note pad to check later, to avoid being distracted and sucked into the scroll!
Set a time limit to your apps: Most apps will have their own setting to keep your usage in check, but your phone settings can also create a limit to help you be a little more aware of how long you've been scrolling for.
Instead of comparison, look for inspiration: When we see others doing well it can bring up a whole load of amazing feelings (pride, excitement, happiness), but it can also occasionally bring up some not so easy feelings (frustration, envy, defeat). I've been here myself many times, riding the ups and downs of cheering others on. One minute feeling excited and the next feeling like I'm not good enough and I may as well throw it all in! I've found the best way to combat this in any situation where I feel like someone else is where I want to be or enjoying the success I wish to achieve, I chose to see it as a huge inspiration. Allowing me the chance to see to believe that the things that I want are possible.
Create a beautiful account of your journey: There are so many trends, changes and updates to keep up with on all social media platforms, that the battle to stay on top is often unachievable. I have found in the past when I've created content and it has not reached the audience I hoped for, I would find it frustrating and sometimes even remove the post. Generally we can get to know what we can expect when we know our audience well enough, but occasionally we may still have a complete flop or the odd post that does extremely well out of the blue. This makes us fixate on the 'success' of a post and it can take a lot of the enjoyment out of sharing our work with others. I've started to imagine that every time I post my work on social media, that I am opening the doors to my studio space. As the majority of us creatives work alone, it can be quite moving to imagine your social media platform is a studio or gallery that people can visit, and every single interaction you have on your post is a real person taking interest in your work. Think how you would feel if those people were speaking their comments to you directly and enjoying your work in detail. If you start to look at social media as an opportunity to simply share your creative process, some of your personality and behind the scenes, and provide your audience with a beautiful insight into your journey, you will likely find you take more joy from documenting each step than watching the numbers and waiting for a reaction.
Plan ahead to avoid spending too much time on content creation: Sometimes it's just the time it takes to put the content together in the first place that gets us stuck on our phones and away from our creative space. If you find you are constantly scrambling for ideas of what to share, or filming for half the day to create a 15 sec reel... then maybe it's time to start planning ahead. I've heard this mentioned so many times on all of the social media guru accounts that always pop up, and every time thought "no it's fine, I will just film a bit of this drawing or take a photo of my work space". And then every time, I've ended up with 427 versions of the same photo on my camera roll or taking footage I never use! Making a plan doesn't mean you need to allocate a whole day to content creation or set up an entire film set to create a reel, but what it can do is give you some ideas. To think ahead and get the little film snippets of work while you create a new piece or knowing ahead of time that you want to capture a clip of your studio so you make sure you do it on a day when it doesn't look like a tornado has just passed through. Having a little list of content for the week or month may help you become more efficient with your content creation and even spark a few new ideas. If you are really stuck on what to share, I have attached a '30 content ideas' for creatives below for free (part of the business bundle I have put together for creatives), which you can use over and over for different platforms, formats and projects. Getting into the habit of working to a plan is the hardest part for me, but when I do stick to it, it saves me so much time!
Be intentional: When you do need to use social media, make sure you do what you set out to do. Whether it be replying to a client, doing some research or reaching out to someone in your community. It can be so easy to dive into social media to complete a specific task and then find yourself scrolling ten minutes later without even making a start on the thing you needed to do. Social media is brilliant at distracting us, so try to find a way to be more direct whilst using it. When you pick up your phone to complete the task, you could try saying the task aloud to remind yourself of what your intentions are. I've found this has helped me to avoid being side tracked.
Start looking outside of social media: With the world at our fingertips, social media can seem like the most important place to focus on when trying to build a creative business. However there is a lot to be said for personal recommendations, seeing creations in real life, and getting out into your local community. What ways could you reach your target audience other than through your social media content? Here is a list of just a few you could try: Email list, local press, flyers, posters, postcards, adverts in magazines or newspapers, Facebook groups, radio, Etsy, retailers, wholesalers, notice boards, trade events, approach hotels, restaurants or coffee shops to hang your work, hold a small (or large) exhibition, guest post on other blogs, offer to do an interview for a podcast, enter competitions, join societies, leave business cards in frequently visited (relevant) places. Sometimes the obsession for social media can seem justified when we rely on it for most of our networking, promoting and converting... but if you try looking elsewhere, you may find there are much better ways to reach your audience than you realised!
If you are having trouble detaching yourself from social media, you can always break the habit by removing the apps you use most frequently. This is something I have done recently and found it really helpful for realising how much time I'd been wasting online, breaking some bad habits, putting boundaries in place and looking into alternative ways to share my work.
I'd love to hear from you if you have found any of this helpful or have any other tips/ tricks that you use. Remember to download the free '30 content ideas for creatives' pdf below if you are ever stuck for content inspiration.