Social media toxicity is real. The fact that social media is more toxic than anything ever known to mankind is something that some scholarly folks do talk about. Just that no one’s paying attention.
For years now, I’ve been a proponent of ‘balance’ — it stems from ancient roots of my culture, my upbringing, and maybe I am half-lazy. Things like “do things in moderation” have also been drilled into my head ever since I was a kid.
With the prevalent hustle culture today, take what you see on social media with a pinch of salt.
The fact that social media is toxic isn’t much of a botheration for “social media influencers” and those who somehow grew big on social (in terms of followers, likes, and social media traction).
For me, it doesn’t say anything at all about the person or the brand in question.
Here’s how I think social media grew into a venerable monster and why social media is toxic for anyone trying to run a regular business (of any kind):
Big or small on Social = no relevance to actual Business Results
I recently wrote about 3 things entrepreneurs get horribly wrong and I mentioned just how “irrelevant” anything you’ll find on your own social media feeds is so, soooo irrelevant to your actual business.
Your business is a function of your brand, product positioning, product pricing, marketing, and customer support (among other things), including a good social media presence for business.
It’s all of that and more. That’s true.
The people you see on social media however, are mostly social media influencers who make a “living on social media” their “only” thing.
Even if they get most of their business from their “”ooh haa” presence on social (including their content, activity, and the blind love they get), even their business is not accurately depicted by the number of followers, fans, likes, comment count, or whatever.
Business = Revenue – expenses. That’s it.
Use social to grow your business, of course yes. Don’t be fooled into thinking that a big social presence automatically implies business success. Might or might not.
Social Media = Engagement + Traffic
With social media, all that you were supposed to focus on was traffic, engagement, and the actual ROI of all the effort you put in. That’s also why the social tools have analytics in them. With proper analytics and attribution tools like Google Analytics , Data Visualization tools like DataBox, and AnyTrack, you were supposed to know how your social efforts help you grow your business.
Plus, what social media was supposed to do for your actual business is this:
- Allow you an extended presence on the web.
- Send relevant, interested, and engaged audiences to your business presence on the web (read: website, optimized for lead generation)
- Communicate, at scale, with others and build a network.
- Give your business a chance to interact with existing and potential customers.
- Provide customer support for your customers, answer pre-sale questions.
- Show that you are human (or a group of humans) interacting with other humans (hopefully, minus the bots).
- Showcase your brand, engage more, and continue to do all of the above.
- Build social proof.
- Use the strength of social platforms (and the millions of users) to run targeted ad campaigns (if you want). Even Reddit and Quora give you the ability to run paid campaigns.
What you were not supposed to see is this:
- Social Flexing of any kind — could be humble brag, overt brag, revenue screenshots without real proof(and you’d never know that), businesses flexing anything in excess, entrepreneurs hustling with a cringe-worthy hustle.
- Anything obvious that you shouldn’t see: disturbing images and videos (among a lot of other crap).
- Toxic consumerism excess of any kind on social. This is a variant of flexing (but so subtle that you wouldn’t actually know). YouTube influencers or Influencers on TikTok or Instagram or LinkedIn or [Insert whatever platform] telling you that are “buying this and that”. Or even things like constant travel, continuous home upgradation, cur buying, or whatever they do.
- Trying to catch your breath every time someone on social shows off a milestone (like $45,0000 in freelancing income per month) or how they bagged $US 6.7 million in venture capitalist funding.
All this hurts. It hurts slowly, but surely. If you are on social media, you see this everyday, don’t you?
Dripping Toxicity on Social Media
Everything I mentioned above works like cigarettes do: slowly burning away at your soul.
These updates always make you think that you aren’t doing enough, that you aren’t good enough, or that you don’t belong, or that your life (as it were) isn’t exactly as good as the “other person’s life is” — only because they got themselves a brand new Macbook M1 Chip, a Mac Pro, a Lambo, or a house.
Apply that to travel, kitchen upgrade, an Amazon Haul, or even a seemingly harmless shopping trip to Home Depot.
This is all a constant drip.
The kind of drip that you are addicted to (so am I) that always tells us that we need more, we need to do more, follow this strategy, or do that thing.
When are you ever good enough? Likely, never.
Distraction is Bigger Distraction than You Thought
So, as an entrepreneur, what you really wanted was this (as above): Take advantage of the power of social media to benefit your business some way.
What you really get: All of the above social media toxicity (which you’ll also be sucked into doing yourself), with just a teeny-weeny string of actual, realistic, and measurable benefits for your business.
Meanwhile, each day (for hours and hours), you are scrolling your feed, answering comments (and comments on comments), replying to comments on YouTube, Replying to comments on Instagram, Replying…Replying…replying…posting…posting…checking analytics, and then repeat.
Distraction. Time suck (quantify that). Huge waste of time.
No, your social media presence isn’t really doing any good. You have another point of view? Don’t agree? Tell me about it by getting to my LinkedIn brand page