SOCIAL MEDIA has gotten me down. No surprise there. I have a sense many of you are feeling the same way, especially in a world that seems to be turning itself upside down. It’s not just the news though, it’s how if affects my brain, how it affects my relationships with others and with the “real world.” Toward the end of 2016 I took almost two weeks off of Facebook. Logged off and didn’t look back. I found I didn’t miss it at all — in fact I found I was reading more, playing music more, having more intimate conversation with my partner. After the new year I logged back in, but made a couple of promises to myself that I still keep today:

1. I would not use Facebook on my phone
2. I would keep my phone out of the bedroom

These have not been hard “resolutions” to keep, and the benefits to me are obviously apparent.

I wanted to check with others to see how they were dealing with social media these days, so I turned to the Matador Creators Community and posted a simple question to the Forums: How do you feel about social media these days? There were varied responses, similar to my thoughts about it all, and then Kae Lani Kennedy, Matador’s Social Media Manager, weighed in and had some practical things to say that I wanted to share.

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I think it’s really important to recognize that Social Media does have an impact on us. Because Social Media is still relatively young, there are no longitudinal studies yet, but there are a lot of strong cases that indicate that Social Media has an impact on our self-esteem, our sense of self-worth, our moods, and can even manipulate our beliefs (just look at Brexit and the Election in the USA #fakenews). Seriously, Social Comparison is a thing and can wreak havoc on your mind.

Social Media isn’t going anywhere. It has spawned a whole new industry with lots of investment dollars put into new platforms and advertising. BUT, we can be mindful of the types of content we consume and how much time we spend on Social Media. You’re all correct — it’s a great way to cultivate an audience and it’s also becoming increasingly important as a way to build up your professional identity. Having Social Media experience and a strong Social Media presence is becoming more and more of a requirement from employers. But you don’t have to work harder at you — just smarter.

Here’s what I suggest:

1. Look into free automation and scheduling programs. I use IFTTT for simple cross platform posting, Latergram is great for scheduling out Instagram photos, Tweetdeck is also good for monitoring and scheduling Twitter.

2. Be mindful of the time you spend on Social Media. Set aside time to schedule your own channels and engage with your audience, and set aside a separate chunk of time towards reading blogs — but be mindful of WHAT blogs you’re reading. Are they providing you with any new insight or intelligent perspective? Or are they very opinionated blogs or listicles of cat pics?

3. RESEARCH! Put forth the extra 5 minutes to check an author’s sources. If you find an article online, don’t take it for face value. Try to find the original study or document an author is referencing and interpret the data for yourself. Here’s an article on how to be a better Social Media Citizen.

Things to look out for in 2017

Live streaming platforms: Because Facebook and Instagram are breaking into live streaming, these platforms tend to prioritize this type of content. What’s great about this is that it’s raw and in the moment. No need for post production. Just go into it with a strong angle and a loose script. Facebook recommends live streaming for at least 15 to 20 minutes so that it can notify your followers that you’re doing a live stream.

Medium! Medium is a platform for readers. It’s a new-ish Social Network for writers and essayists. It’s somehow integrated with Twitter, so if you sign in with Twitter, your followers from Twitter who also use Medium will become your Medium followers. Writers can self-publish their essays and other experimental works for their own feeds or contribute to publications within Medium. Matador Network has a publication on Medium and we’d love to showcase your work there!

Snapchat and Instagram Stories continue to compete. Those types of quick hit stories that only last for 24 hours doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

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What suggestions do you have? What kinds of programs do you use to monitor and manage your Social Media feeds? Give your two cents by signing up for free here.

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