Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Snapchat, Twitter, and Youtube Live. Social media is everywhere, and it hasn’t even been around a decade. We’ve gone from text only to being picture-focused, and now, live streaming is the new hot thing. There is a lot of good that has come from this ability to instantly connect and see into people’s lives. And, it also can have its share of negative baggage. Here are 2 legit reasons why social media is awesome…and 1 huge reason it shouldn’t take over.
I have a love-hate relationship with social media. I’m tired of going to a fabulous place like the Grand Canyon and seeing more people with their heads down posting on their phones than looking out at the scenery. We have to step back and ask – are we driving social media, or is it driving us? Do we live for what is in front of us or have we gotten sucked into living vicariously through our news feed?
Last week I took a break from our family adventures and immersed myself in the business world, going to the conference for anyone in the online arena, Social Media Marketing World. With over 3100 attendees, we took over the San Diego Conference center and spent two days and three nights learning, networking and oh-my-gosh-drinking-from-a-fire-hydrant insights into the world of social media marketing. So why, on a blog all about awareness and family, am I writing something on social media?
Social Media is Here To Stay
My promise to you has been to provide motivation and life application to help you be intentional about creating the family lifestyle everyone thrives in. If you’re reading this, you are clearly on the internet. And if you are on the internet, chances are, you are on social media of some sort. I want to give you two clear reasons why you want to remain on social media…and one big one on why you need to put boundaries around it.
It boils down to a 3 to 1 rule. Of course you want to know what this is, but you need a little insight first.
Social media is here to stay. In 2015, Periscope was all the rage. In 2016, it was Snapchat. We’ve gone from written connections to more and more “real time” and “live” venues. Even as we are “pioneers in this first decade of social media”, this is merely the beginning of something that is an ever-growing beast.
The Proof Is In…
Here are just a few stats I’ve pulled on some of our top social media outlets:
- Worldwide, there are over 1.86 billion monthly active Facebook users (Facebook MAUs) which is a 17 percent increase year over year.
- Every 60 seconds on Facebook: 510,000 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated, and 136,000 photos are uploaded.
- There are 60 million Facebook Pages out there (look – I have one too)!
- There are 600 million monthly active users on Instagram. (Making this the second largest social media platform outside of Facebook).
- YouTube has over a billion users — almost one-third of all people on the Internet — and every day people watch hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube and generate billions of views.
- YouTube overall, and even YouTube on mobile alone, reaches more 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S.
- 41% of people 18-34 years old in the US log in to Snapchat daily.
- There are more than 10 billion daily video views on Snapchat.
- There are 150 Million Pinterest users each month (40% of new signups are male, even though only 7% of the pins are by males, ironically)
This stuff is a wee bit popular. And many of us love it and use it regularly. And…sometimes these same people are the ones overwhelmed and frustrated by all the social media chaos and noise. It can be a complete time-suck. So why hop on social media at all?
Reason #1: World-Wide Connection
There is the that whole ability to share something instantly and easily to a larger audience. For example, I initially hopped on Instagram to share pictures with my family easily (and to create those awesome ChatBooks albums I love so much). I quickly discovered, however, that it wasn’t just my family responding. I started getting comments from others who loved seeing the personal side, seeing how my family ticks and following along with us on our adventures.
Now, as we RV the states full-time, my posts often lead to comments with recommendations on things to do in an area from a local, or responses from motivated followers to get out there and not wait for “one day” to begin traveling with their family.
As social media has grown, you are now able to connect with people all across the globe. In the past, families stayed together – we lived more as a village and were physically present in each other’s lives. Nowadays, social media is often what keeps the family updated – like me joining Instagram to keep my whole family (and friends) posted on our adventures.
Reason #2: Pandora’s Box of Information
Social media isn’t just for funny pictures anymore. As our president so blatantly lays out for us, it’s the fastest way to spread the word on anything you want. News, opinions, and whatever is the current viral trend gets shot all over social media and instantly all your friend list is “in the know”. Search a hashtag (ie #fieldtripgypsies) and find a whole new community of people speaking your language (like fellow travelers).
This is your information mecca – but pay attention to what stands out. It’s not about sharing just to share. We connect when we are excited about something – when we have an experience worth sharing. I want to create this both in my personal life and in my business. It’s less about what to post on social media and more about how to serve.
A perfect example of this is one of the top things I see online as far as information goes – reviews! How many people go to the extra effort to post a review online? Typically it’s an extreme of one sort of another. People are incited to write a review for stand-out experiences. Keep this in mind when you read them – the highs and the lows are most often talked about.
Remember Why We Share
One of my most favorite presentations at Social Media Marketing World was Joey Coleman. He talked about how to create loyal customers by how you treat them in the first 100 days. He delivered this little nugget of advice that I absolutely love: “Stop worrying about creating a social media experience – start focusing on the real life experiences that are so incredible they have to share it on social media.”
When your business is online, it’s easy to fall into the horrible pit of trying to figure out algorithms and get people to share and spread the word. Social media was based on building community. However, which one will make you more likely to share – because I asked you to, or due to an awesome personal interaction with me? Remember what true community is.
It’s Great…But Watch Your Step (Literally)
I said I’d tell you two ways social media would help, and one where it hurts, right? This is the biggie, and what we all know already. You can get so engrossed in the fast-paced “lives” of what is laid out on social media that you miss out on what is happening in front of you. This is a given. We see it any time we are out in public. Look around and pay attention to how many people are looking down vs. making eye contact with real-life humans.
Back to the Grand Canyon, while I was there I took my share of pictures. However, I opted to not let my phone take precedence over the experience. It was a wee bit terrifying seeing the number of people more focused on taking the perfect selfie and less focused on where the edge of the cliff was. So intense, in fact, that while we were there a man fell to his death while trying to get that perfect picture. I seriously doubt this poor man was a horrible person who only lived by social media. I saw the devastation of his cousin minutes after it happened, as he rocked with grief. And I know that social media isn’t to blame for an innocent accident. It was a picture, and who knows where he would have shared it.
Yet sometimes we get so intent on sharing our experiences that it supersedes the here and now. And in this case, it took precedent over finding secure footing. An untimely death and a major loss for his family and friends took the place of that one rockstar picture.
Take a Lesson From Old McDonald
I don’t need to state the obvious, but I will: the people in front of you are more important than the people reading your social media feed. Yet social media can be a huge connector. It can make your social circle so much wider. It can build your business exponentially. And, it’s a fun way to not only update all your family and friends on your life and what you love, but allow them to engage with their own comments.
Why do we share? It boils down to Old McDonald’s wonderful song:
- E – We share to Educate
- I – We share to Inform
- E – We share to Entertain
- I – We share to Inspire
- O – And finally, we share to Outrage
These insights were specifically for blogging, but carry over to anything we choose to share. How many viral videos include these descriptors?
The Pooping Unicorn Has It Right
We all know the Squatty Potty video – I had the pleasure of meeting the executive producer for that, Derral Eves, this week. I just love all the ways he employed these. That one video definitely educated me on the intricacies of fecal elimination. It also informed me of a solution and entertained me in its absurdity.
“Inspire” may be a strong word, but I was motivated to try out this fancy squatty potty thing. And outrage? Well come ON – it’s a pooping unicorn. I promise you there are plenty of outraged people screaming “inappropriate!” about this. Yet, even with this horribly inappropriate commercial with all kinds of innuendoes, clearly at least 2,611,188 people chose to watch it. For the record, out of those views, only 260 chose a thumbs-down. (If you question why “outrage” makes things shareable, one only look to our humble president to see the effect outrage can have on popularity).
The Conclusion? Make Life Memorable…and Remember To Actually Live It
Go back to the quote from Joey above – it’s not about just sharing things to share on social media. No matter if you are a marketer or if you are a stay-at-home-parent, we’re all using social media. We might as well go back to why we want to do it in the first place.
Joey hit it right. If you are in business of any kind, make your personal interactions so powerful that people want to share it. If you are not in the business world, and/or don’t care about gaining an audience, you may not need to abide by the principles above. Yet I guarantee that when you post more than just a selfie with duck lips, it’ll be a much better response. Post something that adds value to another or gives the personal touch of what is truly important in your life. THIS is what people gravitate toward, and what your friends and family want to see.
The 3 to 1 Rule:
This is what you can do. Let’s balance this crazy social media thing out a bit and bring back the personal connection. In blogging, there is the rule that for every 1 blog you post, you should comment on at least 3 others. This shows you are engaged and not simply looking at self-promotion. Here is my new requirement: For every 1 thing you post on social media, do THREE things were you are personally connecting with others around you.
That’s right – before you “FaceBook Live” your arrival at the Grand Canyon, soak in the view. Make eye contact with a stranger and actually say something. Grab your family and describe not only what you see, but how it makes you feel. Take off your shoes and get grounded.
Keep things in perspective and prioritize. Social media isn’t the enemy. Unfortunately, it’s us. We allow ourselves to get sucked in – it’s easy, and with our smart phones, it’s always present and available. Draw your limits and try this 3-1 rule.
I’m doing this challenge for the month of April. For every 1 social media post OR comment, I will do three intentional things to connect and relate with someone physically near me…including strangers!