Over the past 12 years, social media has evolved from purely being an opportunity to connect with people and share information to being something bigger. It is now woven deeply into the fabric of our lives. Social media now plays an important role, influencing us on where to go and how to spend our time on a daily basis.
Given that there are many social media platform choices, ranging from LinkedIn to Facebook, from Snapchat to Pinterest and from Tumblr to Reddit – all vying for our time – how can we make peace with social media and still manage to feel productive in our daily lives?
To get a sense of our social media consumption, I researched how much time per day Americans spend on select social media networks. Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram alone take up nearly two hours of our time on a daily basis. If we are on all of these social media channels, this could easily add up to six hours per day on average.
When do we get to work, eat, sleep and have a little “me” time? I may be having a knee-jerk reaction to the statistics, but some of us could be on a slippery slope to experiencing social deprivation from our friends, families and other people we care about.
Creating good habits
Drawing from my own experiences, staying sane with social media while still feeling productive in your day takes discipline. Developing rituals helps make your social media experience enjoyable.
To round out my thoughts on how to make productive use of social media, I interviewed a social media veteran, Oscar Garcia, founder and chief empowerment officer at Aspira in Mountain View, to get his perspective on how he makes productive use of social media in his own life.
Garcia only spends his time on three social media channels: LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.
“Building your brand and social capital are two important aspects of my social media usage,” he said.
This means that each of us needs to prioritize our social media usage and set meaningful goals and objectives on how it shapes the perception of who we are and our personal brand from the start, which is critical to building a robust social network down the road.
If you own a business, you would want to use social media to build your brand image so that others who follow you will learn your leadership style and develop trust in you as a brand.
If you are using social media for recreational purposes, it’s equally important to project the right image of who you are as an individual. For example, LinkedIn is great for networking and forming business relationships, while Instagram, on the other hand, is less formal, allowing you to display your personality in creative ways to help you sell who you are.
The next step in presenting a positive image is selecting whom to interact with. With an ample list of social media channels to choose from, find ones you are comfortable investing your time in.
Stay active in those communities by sharing and commenting on potential business clients’ posts. Over time, people will get to know you. Later on, when you have a favor to ask, they would more likely respond to your inquiries.
From apprentice to master
Once you have the basic social media etiquette down, you can start being more disciplined about the way you share your posts.
“Sharing your post with a purpose to engage your audience and your brand is important,” Garcia said.
This means that when you construct a post, think about the fact that people are investing their time in you by reading it. Think about content and format that will engage your audience, be it a short video, a quote or emojis. Let your post be your voice, and use the tone that is appropriate to each social media network.
Pro-tip: Don’t overshare
To cultivate the right mindset of using social media in an even more productive way, Garcia and I agree it’s important to be mindful of oversharing. This is a wake-up call for some of us. It’s important not to fall into the trap of using social media as the only outlet to resolve conflicts that could have been accomplished offline. Oversharing can cause your followers to eventually tune out your posts.