This summer I took 100-days off of social media. A 100-day hiatus might be unthinkable for you if social is a key component of your marketing strategy… but it is possible, and I want to share with you why I did it, how it affected my business, what it taught me, and how you can do it, too. If you feel like you’ve just been spending countless hours on Instagram and you’re not seeing your business grow, then this episode is for you!
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Meg Casebolt 0:01
You’re listening to Social Slowdown, a podcast for entrepreneurs and micro-businesses looking for sustainable marketing strategies without being dependent on social media. Social media is a double-edged sword. It’s a wonderful way to stay connected. But it also can feel like an addictive obligation. And it’s even more complex for businesses, your audience might be right there, but you’ve got to fight with algorithms to maybe be seen by them. So whether you want to abandon social media altogether, or you just want to take a month off, it’s possible to have a thriving business without being dependent on social media. This podcast is all about finding creative, sustainable ways to engage with your audience without needing to lip-sync, send cold DMS, run ads or be available 24/7. Let’s get started.
Meg Casebolt 0:50
Hello, friends, it’s Meg here. And as we are still just starting to get into the rhythm of the Social Slowdown podcast, I want to take a little bit of time today in today’s episode, to talk about how to either take a break from social media or you know, shut it down altogether, or just to find a way to create a better relationship with it in your life, even if that means just holding the outcomes of it a little bit more lightly. So for the sake of context, let me tell you a little bit about my business’s relationship with social media and the history and how I’ve been able to sort of extricate not only my time from social media, but also my self worth from how I show up on social media and how the business does here. So I started my business in 2013, you know, built the website and also had a Facebook business page, because that was what you did in 2013. And for the first five years, I did all of my own social media, it was all DIY, I didn’t have a team, you know, so I would share blog posts and share any episodes of guests podcasts that I did provide any education or training and ask engagement questions and polls and you know, all the things that you’re supposed to do on Facebook, in 2018. So about five years in, I started a Facebook group, where I was asking questions and answering what people wanted to know about SEO and doing weekly live videos, and really getting some great feedback from my audience. In my Facebook group, it was actually going so well that in 2019, I ended up hiring a social media agency to take over some of these tasks for me. So they ran my Facebook page, my Facebook group and my LinkedIn account, I continued to have my own Instagram, because that’s just where I wanted to spend my time. But I felt like I still needed to show up in these other places because I was getting clients there. So I was still in charge of the content marketing side of my business, I was still publishing blog posts, I was still guesting on podcasts. And I would take those links, and I would share them with my social media agency. And then they would promote them for me on social. So they would write all of the prompts, and kind of batch them for a week or a month, and I’d approve them. And then they’d make sure that they got published and manage any questions or follow ups. And if you know it was take a look at the DMS and make sure that I wasn’t missing anything. And it worked really well for a while. And then spring of last year. So we’re talking about maybe like April of 2021. I had a little bit of a low month in terms of my income. And so I sat down and I ran the numbers of what is working in my business and what expenses could I cut. And so I looked at a lot of things, you know, I and I’ll talk ad nauseum about all of these different metrics that you can look at in your business. But for me, when I did have that kind of lower income month, I looked at where my leads were coming from. And I discovered that most of my done for you work, the people who hired me for that were almost all from word of mouth. And for people who were joining my membership or buying my courses, those people were mostly coming from partnerships that I had from other people’s communities. So if I went on a podcast, I would see new people signing up. If I did a guest expert training in somebody else’s program, I would see new people joining my list from that summits and, you know, various places where I could get my name out there, I noticed that any way that I could kind of demonstrate my authority and provide expertise for people that I could show up and teach those were actually converting for me into leads. But social media didn’t necessarily turn into buyers. For me. I you know, I looked at the social analytics metrics, and I saw that I was getting a lot of likes a lot of engagement, a lot of comments, but people weren’t actually clicking through my website. They weren’t actually DMing me they enjoyed my content, but they weren’t becoming customers from social media. And then I took a look at the ROI, the return on investment of what I was paying For that social media agency to run my Facebook page, my Facebook group in my LinkedIn account, how much were they actually warming up those relationships. So I didn’t expect there to be a direct correlation between an engagement post on a Facebook group and people coming over to buy from me right away. But I also didn’t see even any of those people from my Facebook group joining my email list. And people would comment on my LinkedIn post, but they didn’t actually DM me to talk about working together. So when I had that low income month, I decided to let go of the social media agency, I gave them 30 days notice to end the contract in April of 2021. And at the same time, I was launching a new program, I was spending a lot of time on social promoting that program in May 2021. But then, when I went, and I looked at the sales, and I saw, who were the people who were actually buying this program, which was a low cost program, for me, it was a couple 100 bucks for a three month program. Most of those people were either coming from my email list or from my affiliates. So when I saw these numbers, when I went and looked at what was actually working, I realized that those people weren’t coming from social media. And then I started running the program in May 2021. And I sort of just forgot about social media. You know, for so long, I’d had the social media agency who were drafting things for me and prompting me and saying, What should we talk about? And when I didn’t have that external prompt saying, what should we talk about this month? What should we brainstorm? I just didn’t do it. And so a week went by, and then two, and then four, and then six. And suddenly, I realized it was July, and I hadn’t posted since May, I’d gone a whole month, it was mid July. And I kind of thought of it as a thought experiment, which is how I like to think of things I thought, how long can I go. And I wanted to see I wanted to see what happened. And so at the time, I looked at the screentime app on my phone, and my daily social media habit during last summer, when I was going through this transition went from an hour and a half a day to about 10 minutes a day, when I didn’t feel like I had to be showing up for people’s comments and see if I was getting tagged in anything, I still check my inboxes I logged in every day or two to make sure that if a friend tagged me, I wouldn’t miss any business development opportunities. But I went 100 days without posting anything to my Facebook or my Instagram page. And this was a pretty big shift for me, my business had been posting to these platforms multiple times a week for years. And when I actually went and looked at the numbers and figured out how it impacted my leads when I just stopped posting, the short answer is that it didn’t actually impact my leads, our contact form consistently was still bringing in one or two leads a week. And that surprised me actually when I looked at it, because usually things get quieter in summer. But because I wasn’t spending as much time on social, I was reaching out to other people and doing you know, coffee chats on Zoom. So by taking that time and putting it into personal relationships, instead of social media, I got more referral leads, I looked and saw that our email list gained about the same numbers of subscribers as it had in the previous quarter, we ran about the same amount of consulting sessions. So even though we usually see a slowdown in our sales over the summer, we still had consistent leads coming into us even without posting on social. And so people when I tell them about the shift are like wait, so you just stopped marketing. And it’s like, no, I just I didn’t stop marketing. I just stopped posting on social media. I just focus instead on the two pillars of the love at first search marketing plan. The first is relationship building. So I spent that time getting leads from referrals and sending out referrals to other service providers because I knew that if I sent them a lead, eventually they’d send me a lead. I focus on being an affiliate for other people’s programs, and letting people share my programs as an affiliate. And I even spent some time going to in person networking events. I mean, Zoom coffee chats are great, but especially last summer as COVID was slowing down. I was like no, I need to be outside in the sunshine with other human people. The other place that we spent a lot of time is our content marketing. So we still in that 100 days, we released 13 videos, 16 blog posts, we emailed our mailing list one or two times a week. So we were still reaching out to people. It’s just that we didn’t use social media as a marketing channel to promote what we were doing. And one of the things that I noticed as I stepped away is that I felt so much better. It was like one less weight hanging around my neck. You know, when you’re an entrepreneur and you’re trying to juggle all the different things in your life and even though I have a team I still felt like that regular prompt from the social media team to approve of the thing. and adjust the things, it just felt like one more thing that I needed to do every day that I didn’t want to. And it took a lot of time to break that habit, especially at the beginning of the summer, when I was still in the habit of picking up my phone and going to, you know, Facebook or Instagram, every time I picked up the phone, it was hard to break that habit. So I decided to just remove my social media apps from the bottom bar of my screen and put them into a folder. So that way, I’m not as likely to pick it up and just mindlessly scroll just because that’s the first app that I see. I just actually replaced that app with a Kindle app and a podcasting app. Because I think I’m gonna pick up my phone, I should spend it doing something that has long term benefits, like listening to podcasts, or reading a book. So in 2021, I ended up reading over 150 books. And part of that is because I wasn’t just wasting time doing scrolling on social. Now, not all time spent on social is Doom scrolling. But I decided to be more intentional about the time that I was spending on social media, and do it mostly from my desk instead of my phone so that when I picked up my phone, I was just choosing a different option. Then, probably about halfway through the summer, maybe about like the 16th or 17th Day of not posting on social, I started to feel a bit of FOMO I definitely felt that fear of missing out the beginning of my social break. But I was also so burnt out that it was like a relief to have the FOMO like the joy of missing out instead of the fear of missing out. And then by mid summer, I started to think like I missed knowing what my friends are doing. I missed the relationships that I was developing and social I miss just kind of knowing what’s going on in their lives. And I came to realize that the time that I was enjoying, social media was more about the friendships than it was the viewing and the scrolling and the publishing and the story watching like I just I didn’t miss any of that part at all, I just missed my friends. So I decided to go back to social in September, I took 100 days off, and I loved having that break. But I also just wanted to reengage with the community that I built on social media. So when it came to my experiment, I decided to go 100 days without social media. Because I like a nice even number like that, I wanted to be able to prove to myself that I could abstain for that amount of time that I could walk away and that it wouldn’t break everything. But then eventually in September, I did go back to social, not because I felt like I needed it to have more leads or my business would crumble without it or even that I felt like I was just missing out on my friends. But also because sometimes I would have promotions that were really time sensitive. And there are people who were following the business on social that may not have been on my email list that may have missed some of the really cool stuff that we were creating. So I still wanted people to know what we’re working on. And also social media, for me has been a great place to get ideas for new content, people will often ask me in questions in the comments, my videos or my posts, and I’m able to then create more content order the answer those specific questions. And to engage in a dialogue in a way that isn’t really what people can still reply to my emails. But it’s a quick space to have people ask questions and say that they like something and kind of give that feedback. So if you’re listening to this, and you’re like, Wow, that sounds great. But I am really afraid that my entire business will fall apart. If I do this, then I’m going to recommend that you don’t do what I did. You don’t just go cold turkey on social media. Although really I didn’t go cold turkey, right. Like I’ve been building up other marketing channels for a really long time. So that when I did step away from social media, people were still sending leads my way. And I still had affiliates that were promoting me and I still had that content that people were finding me. So part of this adjustment for you of being less dependent on social could be building up those other marketing channels. It could be you know, creating more evergreen content and, you know, writing blog posts and making YouTube videos and starting a podcast or going on other people’s podcasts in order to create content, which you can then schedule to share on social media. You don’t have to feel as if you’re gone or feel as if you have to come up with something new every day. You can create content and then set it up to post itself so that you have batched it but you don’t feel like you’re missing out. You can also do the math and figure out where your leads are actually coming from. I know for me when I had that low income month in the spring, knowing that not spending time and energy and investing in the team in that space wouldn’t necessarily decrease my revenue. made it feel so much easier to take that break that I didn’t I feel like I had as much pressure on social media because it wasn’t performing for me the way that I thought that it was supposed to. Maybe you can take some time now and think about what your alternatives could be. That’s a lot of what we’re going to be talking about in this podcast is not saying like, everyone must be off social media right now. But going, what are some other ways that I can market myself? What are some other ways that people can connect with me and find me and engage with me that don’t require me to be on all the time. Another thing to consider here is to choose if you decide that you want to take a hiatus, choose a reasonable timeframe, you know, going to 100 days out of the gate is probably not a smart move. But you can take a weekend off, you can schedule two posts in advance, and then, you know, wait a week, and feel like you can just take a holiday week off if you want or just shut down for a little bit of time, turn off the notifications on your phone, maybe remove the apps from your phone, and just give yourself a little bit of a break. And if you do decide to continue on social media, be intentional about the time that you’re spending on it. I think for so many of us, we get to the end of the day, and we’re like, I just want to turn off my brain, I just want to do something that feels like I’m businessing. But I’m really just scrolling. So if you want to stay on social media, awesome, but make sure that you’re being intentional about the time you’re spending. And you don’t just let social media Doom scrolling become your hobby. If you want to start reading shoot me an email, I’m sure I have book recommendations that I can give you. And if this is something where you want to spend less time or resources on social, come up with a plan, you know, build a system that can replace this, if every time you pick up your phone, you feel the need to check those notifications, change where these things happen on your phone so that you can manage the influx of that stimulation. Or instead of picking up your phone, whenever you get bored, set a time on your calendar that you go in and you’re check social media, oh, I check social at nine o’clock every morning, I’m not going to miss anything. And then if you have that urge to pick up your phone at seven o’clock at night, you’re like, No, I can’t do it until tomorrow morning. So I do this as part of my daily check in every morning, I have a half an hour set aside to check my inbox, my team communication, my social media and my community. So I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. But I have a limit to how often I need to check these things. So whatever that time looks like for you set aside time on your schedule. So that way those inbound messages feel less urgent, less overwhelming, less like you need to respond to them at the exact moment they come in. If you’re listening to this podcast, you probably have at least a little bit of that feeling of overwhelm from the constant notifications and the inbound messaging and the dopamine hits of constantly having something new in front of you. So if you want just want to take some time to yourself, think about taking a short break from social media, because that can be really rejuvenating. And also keep listening to future episodes of this podcast because we’ll be talking about other ways to get traffic to your business to get people to find you to trust you to want to work with you. That doesn’t require you to need to be on 24/7. And that’s it for this episode. Thank you for listening to the social slowdown podcast. If you want to make sure you don’t miss an episode, head over to social slowdown.com and sign up for our email list. And make sure to subscribe in your podcast player of choice. Share this with a friend and we’ll be back with more episodes next week. See
Meg Casebolt 18:33
you then. Thank you so much for listening to the social slowdown podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe or come on over to social slowdown.com and sign up for our email list so you never miss an episode. We’d also love if you could write a review to help other small business owners find the show you can head over to social slowdown.com/review Or grab that link in our show notes for easy access. We’ll be back soon with more tips to help you market your business without being beholden to social media Talk to you then
Please forgive any typos or errors, as this transcript was automatically recorded by otter.ai