Tuesday, June 9, 2015

5 Rules for Social Media

Social media is an inescapable thing these days. To be transparent, I don't want to escape it. I love that I can see updates from missionaries and friends on Facebook, exchange barbs with some college friends on Twitter, and share pictures and stories of our life on Instagram. 

For all the things social media is good at, present day awareness isn't one of them. It's easy to spend all day checking for updates and seeing what everyone else is doing and ignoring what you are supposed to be doing. I don't want my family to remember seeing me behind a phone all day or that I stared at a screen instead of looking them in the eye. 

I've been working on setting some limits on social media. The Instagram and Twitter accounts are actually for the blog and Facebook is just my own personal account so I handle them differently. I post on Facebook sporadically, randomly. But I do talk to people and message people and it's the best way to contact people you don't know. This has happened three or four times over the past few months and it's worth the trouble that Facebook is. I disappear off Facebook for weeks occasionally and then I'll post something every day for a while. 

I try to approach my other social media accounts with some strategy and planning. The accounts for the blog I want to handle more professionally because I do look at it as work. That's why it gets done. So I scratched out my plan. 

1. Schedule posts. Every Sunday I spend some time scheduling posts for the church's Facebook and Twitter. Then I plan out Instagram stuff for the blog and links to share on Twitter. Occasionally I even plan tweets that aren't links but that I can schedule ahead as I look at the calendar. This saves me from having to post all the links in real time when I should be reading to my boys or cooking dinner. As I find content to share I just open it in Safari on my iPad and leave it until Sunday. (I use Buffer for the church and Hootsuite for the blog Twitter. )

2. Turn off notifications. I turned off all social media notifications on my phone and iPad. This way what someone said or didn't say can't distract me while I'm going about my life. I can check the apps at my scheduled times (like during quiet time or right after the boys are in bed) and not worry about them until then. I can assure you that nothing happening on social media is that important to me. (And I do realize this is not how you are supposed to handle Twitter especially. I just don't care.)

3. Don't complain. I realized when I first started using Twitter that my first impulse was to complain: to whine about problems in a cheeky way. Sure I was putting a spin on it but it was still whining. Stop it. My goal is to post only encouraging stuff. I don't mean that I can't be real; of course life is full of problems. Sometimes life is hard but you don't have to whine about your husband and kids and your house and your job all day either. What do you want your perspective on life to be? I've found gratitude to be an amazing attitude changer and I want to display that on Twitter as well. 

4. Don't criticize. It amazes me to scroll through Instagram and see people blasting a stranger for something they posted. "Why would you ever feed your child McDonalds?" "You shouldn't put that outfit on your kid." "Your child is buckled into their carseat wrong."  I even saw a commenter say that she felt a blogger liked one of her children better than the other. How outrageous is that? You are only getting tiny glimpses of life so shut up. I might give an opinion on a question but only on a question. Not just because I have an opinion. 

5. Live a full life offline. That's the only way to be interesting online- be interesting offline. Use the time you would spend idly surfing social media to learn a skill or read a book. Speak truth and speak freely about what you are learning and how projects are going. You have nothing to write about if you aren't living. 

Live and take pictures while you're at it. After all you do need something to post when you are online. 

How do you feel about social media? How do you manage it in your life? 

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