Is Social Media Serving You? Why I Left Social Media Behind

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I should preface this with the fact that my entire business is online and I’m a brand strategist. I literally help people market their businesses and build a sustainable following of customers. And yet, I quit social –Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, etc.–almost 4 months ago and couldn’t be happier about it.

You might be thinking what every person I talk to about this thinks, “How on earth can you do that while running a business,” and the answer is simple. It was no longer serving me, I was serving it. And I needed that to change. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s start with what led me to leave social media in the first place.

The Back Story To Quitting Social Media

I have been on social media since the beginning. Facebook came out to the public while I was a senior in high school, Instagram made its debut soon after and life has never been the same since. The beginning days were fun when you could discover new artists and brands, share with your friends and family, and feel inspired by what you saw and did every day.

Then the algorithms came into play and the way we consumed and shared media became a battle. It was you against the machine and your job was to get as many likes/comments/shares as possible. And so our curated lives and content formed. Now all content had to be thought through and staged to look like you lived a million-dollar life. Finally, we reached the peak of the online experience with cancel culture. Having worked for a company that was canceled I saw (and felt) firsthand the dangers of this type of mob mentality and how badly it hurts small businesses.

All that and it’s still not even what got me to quit social media. Because social media is addicting. We love to check-in, to show off, to never be bored. So when I planned to take a week off of it while we traveled through Costa Rica it was so surprising to realize how much I was looking forward to that week away. And then I thought “If I’m this excited about getting off the apps, why am I on the apps to begin with?”

And from here, I went down the self-realization rabbit hole.

Things to do instead of Social Media

The Self Realization Rabbit Hole– Tuning In To Your Needs

So here I am, packing for a tropical vacation thinking about what it means to really live. I mean we’re going to a place filled with so much life and adventure without access to our everyday problems or to-dos. I’m thinking “who do I want to be when I get back from this trip,” because honestly, I want it to change me.

So I start thinking about social media. How much time do I spend creating content for my business? Hours and hours a week. How much time do I spend scrolling? Even more hours. And most importantly how much business, inspiration, life is it giving me in return? Zilch, nodda, nothing. In all the years I’ve been on it I think I’ve made maybe 2-3 sales on it. So I’m spending all this time (and time is money) on a marketing strategy that isn’t doing ANYTHING! If I were one of my clients I’d shake them and tell them to wake up.

What Happened When I Quit Social Media

So I did it. On August 23, 2021, I set up my Instagram feed as a landing page that highlighted my services, gave testimonials, and directed people to my website or newsletter where I actually show up and it felt so good.

The weeks following were interesting too. I learned how much I go to my phone (another habit I’m trying to break) but mostly how much I thought about social media. Even when I wasn’t actively creating for it or scrolling through it, I was still thinking about it, strategizing for it.

So here I am in the middle of a rainforest, surrounded by nature and I can’t stop thinking about how I would turn this into content to post online, even though I don’t do that anymore. This thought process would last a while, but eventually, it goes away.

After moving past the thought of creating for social I started creating for myself. I originally went to school for fine art and haven’t done much with it since then, you know, because when you grow up you can’t make a living as an artist. So I hit my sketchbook. I created new paintings, tried new mediums, and spent so much of my free time just creating for me. I dove into books and read more about slow living. I went on more walks and stopped looking at my phone whenever I was bored. Instead, I embraced being bored.

Here is what I learned when I got off of social media. Life is so much better in-person. You find you have so much more mental space when you aren’t staring at your phone and most importantly you stop comparing yourself. The mental health I’ve gained from logging off the apps has been life-changing. But what I love the most, is how it slows down your world. You don’t feel like you’ve used up every minute of the day, there’s space to breathe, to think, to dream. And that right there is its best gift to you.

Reading instead of using Social Media

Creating Boundaries with Social Media

I want you to take a moment to think about your day, your habits. How much time do you spend on social media? How does it make you feel when you get off of it? What benefits does social media give you?

You might be like me and say, this really isn’t providing anything for me or maybe you say, it does provide some but not everything. If that’s the case then it might be time to change the way you use social media. You can quit it all together or just add in more boundaries with it. These are the strategies I work with clients and friends to help them change their relationship with social so that it serves them (not the other way around).

Go on a Detox

I think it’s great to start with at least 30-days away from the platform. If you can do 60-90 I highly suggest it. You’ll better be able to get rid of old habits and start new with better ones. During this time away delete everything from your phone. Take this time to notice what habits you have around the thought of social. How often do you pick up your phone to get on it? What do you do when you have nothing to do? How often do you think about it? Just notice, maybe keep a journal and let it all happen.

Take it off your phone

Whether you took a break or are starting with boundaries I highly suggest taking the apps off your phone and only using them on desktop. Yes, I know you can’t post natively to Instagram but you can use a scheduling app like Later.com. Without social media apps on your phone, you have more control over when and how you use them. Put it in your schedule to only check-in for an allotted time during the day and leave it alone the rest of the day.

Add Time Schedule to your Apps

Can’t delete it off your phone? Okay, baby steps. Turn on the app limits on your phone so that you only get so many minutes a day. But pay attention to when and how often you hit the “15 more minutes” button when you use this method.

Limit the Number of Apps Your On

You don’t need to be on all social media platforms. Choose the top 1-2 that you enjoy and stick with those along with some of these other boundaries. Having a ton of accounts can feel overwhelming so by limiting your options you already open up more space in your life.

Continue to Check-in

When you’re on social media continue to check in with how you’re feeling. Is this eating away time you could be creating? Are you getting off and feeling bad about yourself? Are you missing out on human interaction because you aren’t being present? Notice how social media is working in your life and decide if it’s really working for you.

Decide If It’s Serving Your Business

This one is for the business owners out there. Social media doesn’t have to be a part of your marketing strategy. In fact, I’m continuing to find new ways to market without it. Look at how much time you’re spending on social, how many resources are going towards it, and how many sales you get from it. You’re looking at your ROI (Return on investment) and if you aren’t seeing one, it might be time to rethink if your brand needs to be on social.

Things to do instead of Social Media

Is Social Media Serving You?

Your practice on the mat is just the beginning. Tuning in and noticing all that’s happening within and around you is part of your everyday yoga practice. So paying attention to your social media habits is part of yoga. It’s simply using the tools you learned on the mat–breathing, tuning in, and noticing–while you’re on your phone. You’re the only one that can decide if social media is serving you, so take some time to notice and decide how to live your best life–with or without social.

Katie Leigh Brand Strategist + Photographer

Katie Leigh is a Marketing Strategist and Artist in the Denver Area. She helps small businesses simplify their marketing and create intentional practices for work-life balance. Get access to her free guide to work-life balance and see what a little more balance in your life can do for you!