"This is my last and final post" is one angst-filled way to quit social media in a blaze of glory. I've always found it entertaining that when people finally realize that social media is taking up too much of their attention and becoming a distraction, they find it necessary to draw as much attention as possible one last time. It is becoming more and more common for professionals to check out completely from social media. Here are the primary reasons I've observed:
(1) Social media has become an addiction
The addictive nature of social media has been well documented. The number 1 reason professional quit social media is not because it keeps them from getting work done, but because it bleeds into their personal time, hurts their relationships with family and friends, and keeps them from enjoying activities like exercise or reading books that used to be priorities.
(2) Social media is distracting them from what they want most
"In the absence of clearly defined goals, we remain focused on activities." My mentor Paul Brown taught me this one many years ago, and it is so true for social. Social media makes everyone feel busy without actually accomplishing anything. In the book Leader's Eat Last by Simon Sinek, he discusses brain chemistry around achievement. When we have quick wins or accomplishments, we experience a little endorphin rush. Social media platforms have been able to deliver a similar sense of accomplishment with an accompanying rush of likes, retweets, favorites, and heart symbols. The problem is that these "wins" are only virtual and give us a false sense of accomplishment that isn't lasting.
(3) Social media is making them unhappy
Leon Trotsky once wrote while in exile, “Life is not an easy matter…. You cannot live through it without falling into frustration and cynicism unless you have before you a great idea which raises you above personal misery, above weakness, above all kinds of perfidy and baseness.” While Trotsky had an unusually difficult life, every life is hard and frustrating, but when you turn on social media you don't see real life. You see glamor shots. You see people's lives in a carefully scripted way. The other day I was on a conference call at my home office when my daughter came into the room screaming for breakfast. I muted my side of the line while I carried her to the kitchen, fixed her a bowl of cereal, then returned to my call. 20 seconds later she was screaming. I walked back in (muting my line) and cereal was everywhere — all over the table, the floor, her hair, and her pajamas. It was a disaster. Everybody's life is a disaster at certain moments, at least on a weekly basis. Social media sometimes fools people into thinking they are the only ones in crisis.
(4) They don't have a deliberate approach to social media
Over the past ten years, I've spoken to almost 20,000 professionals about social media and I've interviewed and coached hundreds more. The #1 issue I hear from professionals goes something like this, "I have LinkedIn/Twitter/Instagram but I don't do anything with it." The professionals I see bringing in the most business and having the most success use social media strategically to accomplish specific goals. One lawyer I work with uses Twitter and LinkedIn to promote his blog posts and television appearances. Another professional uses LinkedIn to set up meetings with hard-to-reach executives. If you don't have a specific purpose, you may just be spinning your wheels on social media.
(5) They have never landed a single piece of business from social
To quit social media because you haven't brought in business is kind of like quitting exercise because you are still fat. If what you are doing on social media isn't working, change what you are doing. Don't just keep spinning your wheels; change it up. Set a new meeting once a week, post one blog post or article each month, start commenting on and re-sharing good articles you find, push yourself to provide more value to your network. Otherwise, you are just wasting your time.
I love social media. I'm a lifer — not just because it is my business, but because I find it incredibly useful. Before you consider quitting altogether, try and set more clear goals and create realistic objectives that will force you to stretch yourself. And if you do finally decide to leave social media forever, don't make a last and final post. Just delete the app, put on your sneakers, and go outside to enjoy some sunshine.
Adrian Dayton is the Founder of Clearview Social, an internationally recognized speaker on social media for business development and author of multiple books and white papers including most recently the strategy guide, “10X Your Website Traffic.”