How small businesses can use social media more mindfully
UPDATED 25TH AUGUST 2023
Social media is crucial for small businesses to connect with customers, drive website traffic and expand their brand reach. But how does social media affect mental health? It’s time to start using social media for business more mindfully…
How does social media affect mental health?
As we know all too well, the pressure and constant comparison on social platforms can lead to stress and anxiety, affecting personal and business wellbeing. Thankfully there are lots of ways for small business owners to use social media more mindfully and strike a balance between reaping its benefits and protecting our mental health.
According to Forbes, more than 80% of us reported feeling daily stress and panic about our social media use¹. This study reveals that rather than entertaining us or offering an outlet for life’s pressures, the apps themselves are often causing anxiety, especially for those using it for business as well as pleasure. Trying to outsmart Instagram’s algorithm by creating lots of fresh content can be draining, especially if we worry ours isn’t as good as our competitors’. And as much as we’re happy for our jet set neighbours, it’s making some of us miserable flicking through their beach snaps after we’ve battled through the rain to get an order out on time.
What are the benefits of social media?
Despite the drawbacks, we know social media can be great for business. With the press of a blue button, your products can be popping up on phones around the globe, connecting your brand with new faces and driving that all-important traffic to your website. But let’s be honest, sometimes we just want to log off. So how can we strike a better balance?
How do you use social media mindfully?
When social channels are key to the survival of your business, logging off can feel scary and dangerous.
- What if you miss a golden opportunity to collaborate with a wonderful brand?
- What if you keep a faithful customer’s DM on ‘unread’?
- Will you be forgotten if you don’t post every day?
Coming off these apps entirely may be a no-go, but helpful habits can be put in place to prevent burnout and protect your mental health without sacrificing the momentum of your marketing.
How do I stop comparing myself on social media?
Getting to the root of why we’re feeling overwhelmed by the flurry of posts, likes and comments is vital to establishing how to break the cycle of social media fatigue. Feelings of resentment can unknowingly creep in when you measure yourself against others in your online space. Their success would only flood us with positive goodwill in an ideal world. Still, watching other founders receive great feedback for reels that you don’t yet have the resources to create or seeing brands post multiple times a day when you’re having to tackle other jobs elsewhere can trigger anxiety. But here are some solutions…
How to avoid the social media comparison trap
- If you’re starting to find that certain content upsets you, consider temporarily blocking or muting those accounts.
- Search out pages that make you feel good and try to keep in mind that there is a reality behind a polished image — a mountain of washing hidden out of sight, the evidence from when the cat couldn’t make it to the garden in time for a toilet break, or the burnt batch of biscuits that didn’t make the cut for the grid.
- Reframe your mindset to see what others share as inspiration rather than comparison. Maybe the way a small business has styled their product photography could spark some ideas for your next shoot, or perhaps a lovely location snap might help you decide where you go on your next break? Remember to take the positives where you can.
- Try changing your habits. Imagine how much you’d learn if you dedicated the precious minutes you waste scrolling reading our business advice articles or listening to the Conversations of Inspiration podcast instead!
How do you ‘fix’ social media addiction?
Like ‘just one more crisp’ or watching Succession, scrolling can be addictive. It’s tempting to spend every absent moment glancing through your feed, but rather than filling time, the minutes dedicated to this activity can rob you of magical moments. According to Statista, in 2019 and 2020, the average daily social media usage amounted to 145 minutes per day². Now it’s probably more. When we consider that we have to add our business use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and LinkedIn on top of our personal engagement, worryingly, the hours can start stacking up. Here are some ways you can manage it…
Tips to beat social media addiction
- Set a schedule. This can help limit our exposure and make the moments we spend on our profiles even more productive. Responding to your DMs for 15 targeted minutes a day can give you a burst of purposeful time.
- Consider removing apps from your phone. Set them up on your desktop instead if you’re struggling to resist the urge to scroll. You’ll be in a work headspace at your computer and can answer specific enquiries then.
- Maybe ban your phone from the bedroom, too. No one needs a 1am response, so don’t be afraid of not jumping on the keyboard when the message flies in — it’s an inbox, after all, not a pinball machine.
- Establish boundaries of what you are and aren’t comfortable sharing. As a founder, you are often the face of the business and treating your followers to behind the scenes content of how you bring the magic to life is a clever marketing tool, but that doesn’t mean that you’re required to give an ‘all access’ pass to your entire life. Decide on what you’re willing to let your followers see, and don’t be afraid to stick to it even if others are happily posting the moments you’d rather just enjoy privately.
How can I thrive without social media?
Taking time away from the apps can help put things in perspective. Placing all your eggs in one Instagram-shaped basket could put your business under threat if you lost that channel, and it forces undue pressure on how frequently you need to log in. Can you find other ways of connecting with your customers? Attending in-person markets or trade events will foster relationships away from your screen. Saving nuggets of content for a weekly email or a newsletter may establish a deeper dialogue with your followers and help safeguard your business for the future.
If you’re finding it’s the combination of nurturing both your personal and business accounts that’s causing unnecessary stress, then take the time to focus on friends offline. Why not arrange a walk and a coffee with a local pal or boost your mood with a video call to relatives instead?
How does social media negatively affect creativity?
Creativity can be harmed when our focus becomes chasing likes and follower numbers. By disconnecting from our phones, we can rediscover the joy of the design and brainstorming process, where ideas don’t have to be distilled into 280 characters. Unplugging for a few days and letting our imaginations run free may provide us with sparkling ideas for new content and get us energised for the future, banishing those lethargic feelings of burnout and boredom.
Using social media mindfully: key takeaways…
Whilst there are lots of benefits to small businesses using social media it can have a negative impact on mental health — causing stress and anxiety, especially for founders who use it for both personal and professional purposes. Make sure you:
1. Keep an eye on the time:
Check your screen report weekly as you might be surprised at how much time you waste scrolling. Then create some healthier habits and try to stick to them.
2. Explore other avenues:
How can you develop relationships outside of social media to future-proof your brand and keep communication methods varied?
3. Inspiration over comparison:
Make sure your social media diet is full of good, healthy stuff and not content that drains you.
Images: Custom 'Scrolling Less' poster — by The Small Print Company, 'Social Media Detox Pills' — by Poetry Pharmacy, 'Save Yourself From Scrolling' badges — by Liz Harry Designs, 'Put Your Phone Down' stand — by Hello Treacle.