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I don’t know about you but after the past couple of years, I’ve had somewhat of an identity crisis on social media. Between literally having nothing to post (thanks, lockdowns!) and feeling conscious of not wanting to take up space when important social movements are happening, understanding how to navigate my position online has been confusing, to say the least.
Over the recent Christmas break, I took somewhat of a break from the rat race of social media. I didn’t make a big announcement, I didn’t delete the apps and I didn’t completely refrain from posting. But I did take a step back from constantly checking my feed, monitoring how well my posts were performing and, yep, I stopped comparing myself to others after hours of doom scrolling. And you know what? It felt bloody AMAZING. But as I entered into the new year, I decided to reevaluate how I used social media.
Because if it felt that incredible to be away from it — then how could I continue to engage? As a freelance writer, TV presenter and podcaster, social media is an integral tool in not only promoting my work but also in finding new opportunities. If you’re feeling a little burnt out by the constant need to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ online but want to continue using platforms to further your career, the good news is, it’s possible to have it all.
Here’s how to set healthy boundaries online and promote your personal brand, all while avoiding getting sucked into the vortex.
Think of your social media accounts as living, breathing representations of you and your work. These days, we are SO visible online, so it’s important to take stock of the message you’re putting out there by getting your socials in schmick condition.
One of the biggest steps will be making your account public. Now, I’m not saying you should let it all hang out — and if you’re not comfortable sharing personal images online, think about creating a public page that solely focuses on your work endeavours. This way, you can keep posts about your family or that delicious bánh mì you had for lunch, for the eyes of your nearest and dearest on a separate private account.
You’ll then need to clean up your public feed by deleting old posts that might not be the most shining representation of your professional self to prospective clients or future employees. Update your bio to clearly outline your skillset, include a profile pic that is clear (either a nice headshot or logo) and make sure the feed feels uniquely ‘you’.
Diversify Your Channels
Keeping up with every social media platform can feel seriously overwhelming and part of the burnout comes from our desire to be visible everywhere, so as not to miss out on a work opportunity. There’s such a thing as spreading yourself too thin when it comes to managing different social media platforms, so think about diversifying your approach to just a few accounts that make sense for your personal brand.
Are you after more corporate opportunities? Give posting on LinkedIn a crack. More of a creative bleeding heart? Focus on building your personal brand on Instagram. Want to explore new channels to tap into an emerging audience? Try new voice apps like Logcast. Whatever you do, just choose a couple of social media platforms to share your voice and forget about the voices in your head telling you that you need to be everywhere.
Don’t get me wrong, social media can be a fantastic place to build a sense of community and lead to connections for work — but it should never be at the expense of your mental health. Last year, I missed out on a couple of big TV hosting opportunities, and my initial reaction was to look at my peers on social media and beat myself up by comparing my ‘failures’ to their success. As you can imagine, I felt totally sh*t about myself and social media was only exacerbating those feelings.
While it was a good lesson in letting go of expectations and learning how to avoid comparing myself to others, it also made me realise I wasn’t using social media in a healthy way. Make sure your feeds are full of people and accounts that inspire you and build you up. Unfollow any accounts that make you feel less than (or mute ones that may be triggering) and start building a community of meaningful connections that will help you achieve your career goals.
Be Your Biggest Champion
We’ve all heard about the tall poppy syndrome in Australia, but in 2022 it feels outdated. So, let those tall poppies thrive, I say! Throw out the notion that posting about your success or achievements is ‘braggy’ and lean into boosting your star. Go ahead and share that big win, post about a new client project and put yourself out there.
It doesn’t have to be cheesy and it doesn’t have to feel arrogant — be proud and say it in a way that feels authentic. As we’ve heard numerous times, ‘content is king’, so posting about your achievements could be a portal to more work, meaningful connections, new clients or an opportunity to get on the radar of a dream company you’ve been itching to work for.
Personal Branding Done Your Way
Social media experts will often speak about how important it is to build a personal brand by keeping consistent with posting, tone of voice and a clear rollout schedule. But sometimes I find we can get too bogged down in the rigid ‘personal brand’ guidelines we set for ourselves.
On more than one occasion, I’ve whipped myself into a tizz by stressing about not posting something, when I really didn’t have much to say. Strike a balance between keeping your feed full of meaningful posts but also know that you don’t always have to fill the space just for the sake of it. Social media is all about being relatable, so don’t worry about posting an insightful quote at exactly 2 pm every weekday because that’s what the social media gurus say you have to do. Post what feels authentic and do it when you want.
When something isn’t serving you, know when to take some time off. My little self-imposed sanctioning from social media over the Christmas holidays was a game-changer. If I was feeling disillusioned by my career before, I absolutely came back with a zest to create new content and seek out new opportunities afterwards.
Setting healthy boundaries on social media by logging off can help you realign and block out the noise. Make a point of logging off after 7 pm, on weekends or whenever you feel yourself getting sucked into the vortex. Recognise those unhealthy triggers and get into the habit of stepping away from it all for a minute. You’ll be surprised at how rejuvenated you feel and ready to kick goals.
Don’t worry about ‘missing out on an opportunity — a little TLC, a clear headspace and time offline is the secret sauce to success and a bountiful career. That new client or work opportunity will be ready and waiting whenever you come back online.