The other week, I was at a Toronto FC game with my good friend Sam Fiorella, who shares my passion and love for the beautiful game and is also a die-hard TFC fan.
As we sat on the train on the way home from the game, we chatted about numerous things, but one conversation that came up was our reduced use of social media.
Given that we were both early adopters of the various channels, as well as fairly active on them, we spoke of how very different our usage is today, compared to our “busy time” between 2009 and 2013/14.
For Sam, a personal tragedy made him reevaluate where he wanted to spend his time and energy. Time and energy that is now focused on what’s truly important to him, and helping thousands of others in doing so.
For myself, I guess I first started spending less time on social when first my son was born in 2010, and definitely after my daughter was born in 2012.
Since then, I’ve reduced my own use of social media to very specific networks. Facebook remains my constant, and I’ve rediscovered Instagram again after not using it that much for the longest time.
I deleted my Google+ profile, I rarely use LinkedIn, and I’m on an extended Twitter break (truth be told, I’ll probably just delete that account too).
As far as blogging goes, I switched up my content to move away from business and marketing posts, to more personal and introspective ones. And it’s been far more satisfying for me.
What’s been interesting/funny/curious (delete where applicable) is how online friends have asked whether I feel using social less will impact my “relevance”.
I guess it depends.
You Don’t Need to Be Social to Do Social
As someone whose job means I’m on social a lot from my employer’s point of view, that doesn’t necessarily mean I need to be on social constantly on a personal level too.
In fact, at least for me, it’s probably the opposite. Even if my kids weren’t the reason for me reducing a lot of my online time, the fact I’m “switched on” through the day means the last thing I want to do is continue that in the evening and on weekends.
It’s a bit like a friend of mine in the UK, who’s a senior video game tester. After spending 6-8 hours doing nothing but trying to find bugs on the latest video game, the last thing he wants to do is play more video games in his free time.
But even if that wasn’t the case, for me one of the biggest misunderstandings (or perhaps false advice/incorrect thinking) is that you have to have a developed, strong social presence to remain relevant.
To a degree, you do – but only to a degree.
If you’re a consultant or business person, what do you think’s going to get you more clients – being super-active on social media across multiple channels, or the results you’ve attained for previous and existing clients?
It’s not just businesses and consultants that don’t need to be as active front-end on social, either (at least for the wrong reasons).
As a blogger, I’ve often been told that if I don’t have a strong social media presence, my content won’t be shared.
That may or may not be true – after all, if you’re not around to encourage sharing, how will your content be seen?Do you really need to have a strong presence on social media to get your content seen? Click To Tweet
Yet social media is just a small part of the visibility picture, especially for content creators/bloggers. Yes, it can bring extra eyeballs – but what happens when a network disappears and you’ve spent so much time cultivating social sharing?
Take Facebook, for example. It’s a well-known fact that visibility is down as far as organic posts are concerned, and you really need to pay-to-play if you want to be seen.
If you can’t afford to promote your posts, is Facebook as viable an option for you?
Or how about Friendfeed? Remember that? At one time, that was up there with Twitter and Facebook as a viable traffic source from social – until it disappeared, that is.
If I look at my own analytics, I see much of the social sharing I receive comes from browser tools like Buffer and Pocket, as well as manual copy-pasting a post’s URL and sharing that way, as opposed to the sharing buttons I have on each post.
All of this without me being really active on social.
So, yeah – you need to have a strong presence on social if you want to remain relevant as a blogger, too….
Your Social, Your Way
Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t meant to say you should stop using social media as much as you are, nor is it meant to suggest that everyone has the same needs when it comes to how important social media is (or isn’t).
Your business may need to be really active, or you may need to have more than a couple of dedicated networks in use to meet your own goals.
But ask yourself a simple question:
If you were to cut back on your own social media use tomorrow, would it really have a negative impact on your life?
For me, the answer has been simple – no.
Instead, I’m hopefully a more involved father, a better husband, and a friend who’s available more to those who need me than I was a few years back.
I don’t feel the pressure/faux pressure of maintaining a “persona” just to try and attract attention and eyeballs, and I genuinely enjoy the channels I am active on a lot more for it.
The tagline of my blog is, “There’s more to life than social media.”
That may or may not be true for you, and only you’ll know. But let that be a decision you make, as opposed to those who say they know better making it for you.
Trust me, you’ll feel better for doing so.