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Breaking My Engagement Saved my Life

How quitting Social Media can improve your online presence

Photo Credit: Geralt

I’m a fairly new entrepreneur.  I’ve been running my own career coaching and leadership development consulting practice for 3 years full time.  I’m also a survivor of work burnout.

When I was studying for my MBA many moons ago, I don’t remember my professors  telling me about how challenging it can be to create a name and brand for yourself.  After working 18 years for a Corporate brand that had a global recognition and then suddenly trying to create a name for yourself is daunting and overwhelming-especially when you’re recovering from work burnout.  

My plan for going out on my own was to create a work environment on my terms where I would thrive and flourish while providing an amazing coaching and training experience for my clients. I desired flow and not the intense pressure to perform at all costs which included my health and emotional well being.  

I had an MBA, two decades of work experience and I knew how to drive results. I also learned that in order to be in it to win it, I needed to understand Social Media and its role in business success.

I immediately enrolled in a Social Media Marketing Certification course. The course taught me that I needed to be married to my engagement and make sure I was constantly checking my analytics to ensure that I was connecting to my target audience.  Marriage is a long term commitment.  I wanted to my business to be successful so I took the commitment to create a solid social media presence very seriously.  

Lessons learned: You can really run yourself into the ground attending countless hours of live networking events, giving your business cards to tons of relationships you hope to forge driving them to your social media platforms. Then you have to make sure you have a social media presence to back up your brand and service offerings.  The intention that I initially set was that I needed to connect 24/7 with my audience so they knew I was engaged with them too.

My coaching peers were doing Facebook live posts daily, they had scheduled bots to post amazing content rich newsletters, they were growing their sales funnels and creating their online personas.  Comparison is a blessing and a curse.  

I attempted to follow suit.  I had a weekly engagement plan.  My motivational memes were scheduled.  I taped “Rooftop Revelations” which were short career advice videos and “Career View Mirror” my entrepreneur career path interviews were both being posted on You Tube. I blogged on the regular and I was sharing every modicum of my coaching and presenting lifestyle live on Instagram and Facebook.  I desired the connection and the more I shared, the more likes I got.  I thought I was an engagement diva! 

What I didn’t know was that I was creating a desperate energy that was repelling others and not attracting as many of the ideal clients that I really desired.  I was overdoing it.

The push for more clients was exhausting me and making me start to resent the joy of servicing my clients.  I was constantly checking my devices to see who liked, commented and booked me from my posts.  It got to a point where I was checking my platforms every 10 minutes.  I was tuning out life.  I was obsessed with collecting engagements versus focusing on human connection.  I stopped going to networking events. I was tired, grouchy and starting to withdraw from going out all together. I wasn’t sleeping well. I was waking up in the middle of the night and checking my platforms for engagement which extended the insomnia.  I wasn’t talking to loved ones.  I wrapped myself up in a cocoon of silence and dependence on connections. I was getting sick more often.  

I found myself at parties and other social events with my nose pressed to my device. I was constantly scheduling and checking for engagement. I would beat myself up if I didn’t get the engagement I was hoping for.  My mood would hinge on the success of  a successful post.  This was not ideal.  My social media engagement was becoming an addiction that I falsely kept telling myself was merely just my passion to drive results to grow my business.  

My social media presence was impacting how I was being present in the life that was quickly passing me by.  

I was doing the very thing that motivated me to retire from Corporate America- I was burning out again.  And it wasn’t going to stop until I jumped off the engagement train.  

I needed to break up with my engagement to social media.

I started small.  I tried to do the fade out.  I decided I would only check my social media one day a week.  But I worried about my engagement. I feared my followers would think I abandoned them.  My separation anxiety was real.

Then, took the out of sight out of mind approach.  I removed the social media apps off of my phone.  But I was constantly checking my platforms and stats on my laptop.  

As a solution, I decided to open the relationship and “see other people.”  The plan was to focus my engagement time to one day a week and schedule posts a month in advance.  However, in setting up that goal, I didn’t set parameters on how often I would check my analytics.  I was posting less, but checking my stats at the same rate.   I needed to set some more parameters in my social media detox program. 

I decided to totally cut ties and quit social media cold turkey.  It worked for about 30 days but whenever I’d get a notification of engagement, I was asking friends to check the posts for me.  Just so I didn’t miss anything super important.  That was asking a lot.  It was my business, not theirs to run.  

I added Self Control which is an app you can download to your laptop so you’re blocked from checking any websites that you may be tempted to check for a specified amount of time. That worked to keep me productive and focused on my daily tasks but I still worried about my engagement.  This emotional barnacle was not loosening its hold! 

Finally, I finally decided to get real.  I came clean with my followers.  I created a vulnerable post.  I shared that I was drifting from the very thing that made me present for my followers and that I would be taking a break and honoring my body, soul and business. I shared that I would be dialing down my posts but that didn’t mean I was abandoning them.  

And the most amazing thing happened…I was supported.  I was celebrated and my followers weren’t just still there, more folks started to follow me!  

I forgave myself for abusing myself again and celebrated that I was putting myself first.  How could I be an advocate for self care if I wasn’t practicing what I preached?  

I couldn’t be who I wanted to be for my clients if I wasn’t good to myself first. 

So my current relationship with social media is reciprocal.  I post when I feel the spirit moves me always setting the intension of support and service to my audience.  I respond within 24 hours of the message or engagement.  I have an email that sends me analytics data to me.  And my visibility is still in tact.  

I’ve learned that it’s not all about the data. I realized that my business won’t stay in business if I’m not well enough to work.  I still use Self Control especially when I have major deadlines to meet. The right clients will come at the right time.  Creating space in my life has opened up so many more opportunities.  

I’m not 100% off social media but now I’m managing it versus it managing me. 

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