An Uncomplicated Life Blog: What Happened When I Stopped Caring About Social Media

Monday, February 4, 2019

What Happened When I Stopped Caring About Social Media

As a blogger, I'm supposed to care about my engagement and stats on social media. I stopped all that, took the pressure off of myself, and this is what happened.


I hope we're friends on Instagram, and I hope you check out my stories. A few weeks ago, I had an "honesty chat" where I shared I completely stopped working the Instagram Game. You know, liking a bajillion photos a day, commenting on dang near everyone's pics, going through the hashtags I planned to use the next day and liking/commenting there... Basically, wasting my life away in that app just to "build community" aka get engagement on my account. On Facebook, I stopped sharing others content (finding good content to share was getting so hard to find!), and only made a few posts myself per week. Twitter? Yup, I only scheduled out a single tweet per day. Basically, I decided to reclaim my own life and get off social media so that I could really live it and be present with it. So what happened to all my accounts? The accounts that get me paid, that I've spent years building up? What happened to my page views on my blog? What happened to my mental health? This is what happened when I stopped caring about social media, and started caring more about living my present life.

My actual blogging work space... In the playroom because we have too many kids in all our bedrooms for me to have an office!

First, a bit more on why I stopped caring about social media. It's a funny thing. I've been on Facebook since it started as a way to share your party pics in college. You had to have a college email address to sign up and you could only "friend" people in your network - people at the same college or university that you went to. That was Facebook in 2004. By the time I graduated in 2006, my sorority was having workshops on social media, and why it's not a good idea to have "party pics" of you out there when you're trying to get a job. Nice foresight Kappa Kappa Gamma! I didn't post party photos of myself (I graduated in 3 years with nearly a 4.0 GPA; I was too busy studying and working to party much. Saved that for graduate school!) but I did enjoy checking out others' debauchery. 

Facebook opened up to everyone sometime in 2007 or 2008 and that's when the first big change happened. Now everyone could see you and you had to be respectable! Family members joined. Businesses joined. Groups were formed. It became a "thing." I remember I saw my first Social Media Manager job posted sometime in 2010 and laughed. "That's a REAL job?! What a joke!" I thought.

Yup, definitely a thing. That same year I helped write a social media policy for my employer. Two years later, social media marketing tasks were added to my job. By 2014, I started a blog and social media marketing WAS my job. It was easier back then. There weren't algorithms, and if people liked your page, they saw your content. You didn't even have the option to pay for ads, it wasn't a thing yet. Instagram wasn't popular yet. Heck, my account was still in my private name! There was very little strategy outside of post your content consistently and respond to messages and comments.

Fast forward to 2017 and people were making six figures just from an Instagram account. You had to have at least 10k followers for brands to want to work with you. There were expensive guides sold on how to build up these big accounts and the word "influencer" became a thing. A real job, that made real money, just by posting photos on the internet. Nobody was laughing at a job titled Social Media Manager anymore because they were too busy trying to figure out how to become influencers, where the real money was!

Towards the end of 2017, I told a small group of bloggers I'm close with that this whole Instagram thing was no longer sustainable. People were buying followers, faking likes and doing various "tricks" to make their accounts look popular so that brands would pay them big bucks to post photos that never actually reached their target market. Blogging went from creating fun content for your site to being all about your social media channels - the blog was just the after thought that people clicked through to if they had the time. Everyone was trying to figure out how to game the system, trick the algorithms and gain more followers and more likes, no matter who those followers were or where those likes came from. 

For me, it took the fun out of blogging and using social media.

It was a constant internal battle I had with myself: Do I do the same things others are doing in order to stay competitive and relevant? I hated that I had to spend so much time in Instagram, just to build or maintain my account! Just to try to garner every follower who might be remotely interested in me (or, more accurately, interested in a follow back from me) or who might give me a like on a photo, or a Facebook like on a link to my blog. 

It had gotten bananas. Bloggers were hiring out help for their Instagram accounts alone. Most of the likes they were getting were from "like all threads" or "chore threads" and while they weren't fake, they weren't genuine either. Don't even get me started on giveaways... A way to buy followers without actually saying you're buying them. Ughhh. It was all just a huge game on false popularity. Fortunately, PR agencies and brands noticed (finally!) and wrote into contracts that hired influencers couldn't implement these practices or they'd be fired from the project. I thought that would help right the ship, as it were, but it didn't.

Sometime after seeing my 90th giveaway in my feed during the holiday season of 2018, I said ENOUGH. I'm so sick of  liking liking liking, engaging, commenting, always being present, responding to just about every DM, always having fresh Instagram Stories up, always having a queue of tweets going out, scrolling Facebook nonstop for great content to share, liking and commenting, liking and commenting... Just to remain relevant and seen in each platform's algorithms. ENOUGH. 

So I stopped. 

I stopped all "games" and simply posted content when I wanted to, and only liked a few photos a day from my feed. Only liked a few Facebook posts on others' pages and didn't share any content. And that lack of activity on my account showed. Immediately.

My Facebook impressions plummeted. At first, my Instagram engagement was cut in half. Then in half again, and again, until I was getting 50-150 likes on a photo when I had been 500-1,000+. It was a kick to the gut. I'd love to tell you that I didn't care, but I did. It was Christmas time, so I had plenty to do besides care about social media stats, but I was worried. Worried how it would effect my ability to get paid projects. Worried what that engagement rate looked like to others. Worried how my blog would fare and worried about future paychecks that might no longer come. 

After a week, I was ready to throw in the towel and jump back into spending all my time on social media again, just to save my account (and, honestly, to save face and boost my ego again too.) But I stuck with it. I said, no Paige! Just commit to taking the holiday season off and see what happens. Maybe things will bounce back! Maybe brands will still want to work with you. Just give it time and see. I resolved to get through December 2018 and January 2019, then reevaluate to see where things stood. I had a lot going on to keep me busy with newborn twins and two toddlers, so it was easy to follow through with my lack of social media plan!

Here's how it all panned out: Emotionally, I was SO MUCH HAPPIER. I got SO many hours to my week back! I could actually spend time writing (which is why I started blogging to begin with) and improving my photography skills. I started blogging to BLOG, not to spend time promoting my brand on social media. So that was a refreshing reboot for my brain. In my experience, when you're refreshed, you write better content. I started to have all these blog post ideas that I was actually excited to write (and would be excited to read, if I were a follower). It was a huge boost for my morale and creativity - I have such a great list of posts to write this year!

Why using comment pods and engagement threads harm your blog and social media channels if you want to be a paid blogger

Monetarily speaking, my December was completely middle of the road. Not a great month, not a bad month. However. I wasn't hired for any "social media only" work. It was all blog posts! That correlation is interesting; get better at what you love doing anyway and people hire you for it. January was more telling, since the effects of abandoning my social media had time to set in. Hold on to your hats... It was my BEST MONTH EVER. Five years of blogging, and once I started not caring about social media likes/engagement and just had fun with creating my content, and I landed two HUGE contracts for social media only work. Multi-month, multi-figure contracts. One of which is with my "dream brand" because I actually buy and use it regularly and it's in my perfect organic niche.

I remember it was January 16 and I was sitting on my couch in awe of what was happening (I secured the contracts within hours of each other). I pulled up my Instagram and had a measly 53 likes on my last photo, yet had secured this work from brands WHO REACHED OUT TO ME, and whom I was able to negotiate MORE pay with. I did not honestly expect to share with you that my pay increased. I merely hoped I'd be able to share that it didn't negatively impact it! Now, was this just a fluke month? One super successful month that will be followed by a desert of no interest? Maybe! It's hard to say when you're self employed and work month to month building an income from scratch every time. But if it's a fluke, it's pretty bizarrely timed.

Moral of the story: don't let likes stress you out. Don't let a high number of likes make your day. I wish there was a way to completely hide like counts and comments on social media posts in fact! Giving up the ghost on caring about that trivial stuff is not only freeing, if you're in social media for a living like I am, it's not detrimental to your business. It resulted in more fun, creative content on my end, and brands noticed. I'm guessing brands also noticed that my engagement was entirely genuine, and reaching 75 people who actually read and interacted with my content was far better than 670 who liked it because I liked several of their photos and were just doing it to reciprocate, not because they're actually invested in me, my account or what I have to say. As it would turn out, when you stop "caring" about social media, good things happen AND you become a happier, less stressed out person!

9 comments:

  1. And again this is why I love you and your blog.

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  2. Love it. I found that once I stopped watching numbers I enjoyed sicial media a lot more.

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  3. This is a huge issue in the blogging and social media influencer world! I have to remind myself like likes aren't everything and get back in to the heart of blogging too! Great post.

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  4. This is everything! I never loved social media, but as a new blogger I felt it was a necessary evil. I am still learning, but I’m not going to spend a ton of time on things I hate. It’s so hard at first to know how to focus your time and energy to get the most reward.

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  5. Interesting read and outlook on everything. I run as blog more as a hobby than for financial gain, but I also think that social media is a cancer on society. When I ran my sales showroom, I lost so much employee productivity to Facebook

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  6. I love this post so much! I stopped using social media often after I went transferred to online school in 2017. It became toxic for me and every time I would see big influencers on IG, I would get jealous based on their appearance and their income. Although I blog, it still beneficial for me to still use social media to share my content and engage with others.

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  7. Caring about social media is the biggest stressor in my life and how pathetic that it is! Such a good post. So many times I wish I didn't have to do it, but it's a good way to promote my blog.

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  8. I needed to read this! I always feel guilty for barely posting once a week to Instagram & maybe Facebook. I don't even have a twitter account. It is super important for blog growth and I know that, but social media can be so so stressful.

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  9. This is such a good read! I'm just starting out and I've been stressing myself out with the social media bit of it, thinking it's so necessary to drive traffic. I think reading this is helping me see to concentrate more on the content than the comment threads and whatnot.

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