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The Best Social Media Advice You Never Hear

The Best Social Media Advice You Never Hear

Ever find yourself thinking you should create a new Facebook page for your business – even though you already have one?

Or considering opening a new Twitter account – when you’ve got one to update already?

Or maybe even starting a new blog – when you’re already struggling to grow the one you’ve got?

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We’re told time and time again that we need to create an all-inclusive social media strategy, that we need to embrace all the latest tools. But today I’m here with a different kind of social media advice. I’m here to tell you to use FEWER social media networks.

Use social media LESS? What?!

Once you recognize the benefits of social media – once you see how much traffic it drives to your website and customers it attracts to your brand – it’s easy to get sucked into the more-is-better mindset. A Twitter account for your dog! Your business! Your book and even a character in your book! Before you know it, you’ve got five handles to manage.

Yet this symptom of trying to be everywhere, on every social platform, is actually working against you.

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Sometimes we get so caught up in the social media frenzy that we lose sight of whether these tools are actually helping us reach our true goals. Rather than interacting on certain social media platforms to sell books, create a community or raise awareness of our cause, most of us do it because we think we have to.

More is not necessarily better. In most cases, if you have too many online profiles — especially more than one on the same platform — your online personalities will compete against each other. That means if you’re really smart, you’ll find a way to combine those interests under one blog or handle.

Because if you’re spending time on a Facebook page that’s growing so slowly it isn’t helping you reach your business goals, you’d be better off taking that time and using it on, say, Twitter, or whatever tool works best for you.

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In other words, stuff the “be everywhere” approach and choose one or two or three that will work for you.

How I’ve successfully used this approach

I struggled with this when I started my own business. I didn’t want a separate website for Socialexis, and I couldn’t visualize how I would integrate that content onto my blog.

Would my readers, who were used to coming to me for information on writing and travel, want to read about social media? Would they lose interest if I added another seemingly unrelated log to the fire?

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Turns out my readers did want to read about social media experiences, and my blog continues to grow. Why? Because most of my readers and customers visit my blog and purchase my products, for MY thoughts, MY insight, MY knowledge.

Of course, the brand of YOU has to be valuable or entertaining, or it won’t catch on. It has to be relatable and personable. But if the umbrella topic is you and your products and posts are infused with your voice, it makes sense to have only one blog or social media handle even if you have a variety of interests.

Here are some of the other benefits of sticking to fewer accounts:

  1. Diversity makes you interesting. Writing about several different topics makes you more interesting and more diverse. If if you’re blogging in the bull’s eye of your topic, what you’re saying has probably already been said before, maybe a million times. Instead, blog around the fringes, blending that topic with other ideas, adding a personal story with your voice. Your diverse interests make you more relatable and more interesting, and that will separate you from the millions of voices out there.
  2. You’re no longer competing against yourself. If you segment your audience within one channel, you’re essentially working against yourself. But by bringing everyone to same party, you’ve got a much bigger, more effective platform. I’ve already built up a community on my blog, so why not use that to my advantage when it comes to my social media business, too?
  3. It creates less work for you. Having fewer accounts means less work for you, which means you can put more energy into ONE account or blog, which means you’re more likely to succeed. And that’s what we’re going for at the of the day: success.

What social media profile can you ditch TODAY, so you can spend more time focusing on what really matters?

Featured photo credit:  hand with social media icons via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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