What’s the point of social media?

Over the last few months, I’ve caught myself getting annoyed with social media. Hey, no big deal, you might think.

But digital marketing is my job.

Social Media is a Necessary Evil

The thing is, social media has become a necessary evil if you’re a business or a brand looking to succeed, at all. Some may even argue that socially, you could feel “left out” if you didn’t have social media profiles.

But, social media has become so calculated, and it seems like nearly all of it is fake. The platforms and their algorithms have become more sophisticated, so users have, too. Long gone are the days of simply logging on to Facebook and seeing who “poked” you (remember that?!), but only if you had a college email account. There’s no such thing as posts in organic, chronological order anymore. Even the likes and comments are often just robots doing their job.

Social media is an obligation. It’s just as, if not more, important than a website. Heck, I’ve had clients beg me to create social media profiles for them before there’s a website, before there’s even a product to sell, and well-before there’s any quality content to put ON the profile.

Its frustrating and well, I can easily say that nothing sucks the fun out of something more than obligation.

Why am I on Social Media?

I’ve caught myself rolling my eyes at some of the things I’ve seen on social media and then I ask myself, why am I even on here?

As a Digital Strategist, it is of course my job to be on social media platforms and understand how they work so I can use those experiences for my clients.

But, I also always hope that my efforts on social media will lead more people to this blog, and ultimately, I’ll be able to build a community of like-minded people.

A few months ago, I was really struggling with doubt as a content creator. I’m sure it’s something many creators deal with from time to time. The truth is, I’d lost focus on my goal and I was concentrating on the numbers instead.

I was noticing that less people were visiting the blog, and those who were coming weren’t interacting with anything — no clicking on links, not leaving comments, not signing up, etc.

I wondered how much it was worth my time and effort. I even started to wonder if I just wasn’t good at what I was doing.

But then I went back to my goal. My blog is primarily for me. This is the place where I come to write whatever I want to write, to work out problems I can’t share elsewhere, and to talk about things that excite me.

All of this applies to social media, too, and I think my frustration comes from noticing that people don’t engage there, either.

People are Online, but they Don’t Connect

From the Fomo Factory in Austin, TX

Over the 10 years that I’ve had this blog, I’ve shared some really personal things. I’ve said things here that I’ve never talked about with friends or family.

…And then no one says anything…

The same can be said for social media. I feel like I’ve invested a lot of time and energy trying to get people to interact with me on social media. I’ve recorded videos and edited photos and hosted contests and giveaways.

Sometimes, I’ve shared the downsides of life — money struggles, days when my car won’t start, or times when I’ve cried over a client or a bad day.

…And no one says anything…

It’s the digital equivalent of putting yourself out there, and then hearing crickets. I’m sure it dates back to the letter-writing days when one day, the pigeon just never shows up.

My editor and I were talking last week about engagement, because I’m always asking my newsletter readers to engage with me via Twitter or email. Sometimes they do, and I’m always very excited (and I always reply).

But my editor and I both agreed that even getting one email from a pool of 12,000 readers is really excellent considering how much effort it takes people to write an email or a comment.

It’s the same message I tell my blogging students at UT when they’re worried about someone leaving a nasty comment. People are lazy, and if you get a comment, you must have really said something that struck a chord.

Am I Expecting too Much From Social Media?

Perhaps I’m just expecting too much out of these digital platforms. But isn’t that where we all “hang out” now? I mean, I can see the hundreds of readers on here every day and a similar amount looking at my content on social media… are they all just mindlessly scrolling?

Connecting with others is what makes social media worth while, right? I try to make an effort to do more engaging on social media, even if I don’t think the account holder will see it.

I think it’s necessary to tell someone they’re doing a good job, or they have a great idea or whatever it may be. If we’re not going to connect with each other on these platforms, then what’s the real point of being there?

Over the last few weeks, I’ve tried to focus on posting more “real” content, thinking that would get my followers to speak up. But after nearly crying on screen (genuine tears, I’m not that desperate for attention), and having no one even send me a message, I figured things were just getting out of hand.

I’ve also tried to focus on following accounts that get me excited about life, about being a creator, and just overall inspiring. I love seeing people go for their dreams, whether it’s recording a song or writing a book — and I’ve started sending messages telling the, hey great job! Because that’s what it’s all about… for me, at least.

So, Where do we go From Here?

Well, after working as a Digital Strategist for 10 years, I’m not going anywhere. I think my clients actually share some of my frustrations when it comes to social media, and that’s one reason they hire me.

It’s important to see these platforms for what they are and understand how they work, how to succeed on them, and how to cut through the crap to stay true to your brand along the way.

I’ve helped my clients succeed by sticking to my personal ethics on social media platforms, keeping things real, and following white hat techniques for each channel.

These platforms are going to continue to change, digital marketers will have to adapt, and I’m growing more confident in my belief that they’re not always going to be around. I mean how often is Facebook or Instagram down each month?

When the platforms change or disappear, we all still have to live our lives and be OK with the people we are behind the screens.

As for personally, I’m going to cut back. Yes, I’ll still post. I’ll do what I have to do to keep my profiles afloat. But, I don’t think it’s necessary to put a lot of time and effort into something that isn’t offering a return. In fact, it seems almost like a deficit because of the time wasted, and I’ll admit, my feelings get hurt when I share things and no one says or does anything.

I can’t say how many times I’ve posted a blog link (probably 1,000+ times) and maybe 12 times has someone clicked it, or how many times I’ve said, “Hey, it would mean so much to me if you’d subscribe to my newsletter!” And no one does… if half of my followers would have subscribed, I would have met my last quarterly goal and bonus.

But I’m an adult, and I can take a hint. This is simply a redirect.

My ultimate goal is to write, help businesses along the way, and ultimately make my living off my original content and ideas. I don’t need to be popular on Instagram to make that happen.

There’s a big part of me that gets excited about putting my phone away, being a little less connected, and having a lot more time and energy to put toward those goals.

In times when I feel like urge to get on social media (it’s a real addiction), I’ve been going on Pinterest instead. It’s a place that inspires me, helps me come up with new blog ideas or even books to read, and I love finding inspirational quote or graphics that just make me smile.

Anyone else out there feeling this way? Anyone? Rhymes with oodoo economics? Bueller? Bueller?

For more social media rants, be sure to subscribe to the blog (look to the right) and follow me on Instagram @Orangejulius7. Live in the Baton Rouge area? I’m teaching a Blogging Boot Camp this September. If you don’t live in Baton Rouge, you can always schedule a Creative Session with me!