Updated: Jan 31
Image: Linda Bernstein via Canva
My latest episode of being buried by social media began when Elon Musk took over Twitter. Not ready to jettison my favorite platform, I nonetheless began to search for alternatives. This went beyond simply claiming my name on Mastodon and Post, two platforms vying for Twitter refugees. I felt I had to follow accounts on these platforms and pay attention to the environments so I would know where to land should I bail from the blue bird.
Luckily for my sanity, I had already given up on BeReal, the app that prompts users to post a daily photo during a random two-minute window. (I was always in the middle of something that wasn’t, uh, photo-friendly.) And although I totally love the concept of Flipboard and have over 100K followers there, I don’t actually (enter whisper mode) even check-in anymore, let alone create.
But I do keep up with Facebook and Instagram, and my LinkedIn account gets some weekly love. I don’t make Reels or TikTok videos, but I do spend wwwaaaayyyyy too much time “going down the rabbit hole” on both platforms.
Here I am, a social media professional, and I’m being buried by social media. And I need help
. . . which I solicited from Sree’s Advanced Social Media Group on Facebook.
As it turns out, many feel as overburdened as I. To my question “how does one keep up if they don’t have assistants,” Sueanne Sannella Shirzay, founder of Sueanne Shirzay Jewelry, an e-commerce jewelry brand, replied, “one lets go of the need to be perfect.” Carla Schlemminger, a corporate marketing strategist and board advisor based in San Francisco, also emphasized that “with finite time and finite resources we need to make choices.”
Sueanne brought up another salient issue: people need to consider their professional and personal use separately, which makes good sense. Diana Rohini LaVigne, a communications executive, adds, “I can't imagine anyone who is using social media for strictly personal reasons having more than five main platforms.” As for how many platforms a person needs professionally, especially when social media management is part of the job, well, it depends.
Meanwhile, I plan to reacquaint myself with the following tips to lighten the load on my overburdened social media self.
Think about goals. Goals can be simple: My goals with my personal accounts are to keep on top of what’s going on in the world, talk with friends, and listen to people whom I find interesting. Goals can be more complicated: Nonprofits want to get the word out about what they do; others, like the Red Cross, use social media to get the word out. Businesses large and small use social media to find new customers, clients, and partners. People whose social media provides them with income (i.e. influencers) want to get more followers so they can have more influence and make more money.
Good to know: As I said above, coming up with goals can be simple. If your social media is purely personal, start with a list. If it’s a personal business (like Sueanne’s jewelry), you need to keep on top of things. You may even decide to consult with a social media professional.
But . . . Once you know your goals, you’re going to have to review them regularly. If you’re a business, you will probably need to spend money to achieve your goals.
Grab your handle on new platforms, but don’t fall into the must-be-an-early-adopter frame of mind. Seth Abramson was one of the first people to be brought onto Post.News by its founder, Noam Bardin. But getting a headstart on everyone else isn’t why Abramson’s follower count reached five digits within the first month. People follow Abramson because of who he is. Same thing goes for George Takei on Mastodon. Upon joining the Fediverse, several hundred thousand of his 3.1 million Twitter fans have sought him out.
Good to know: Many people have inserted their Mastodon or Post handles into their Twitter “names” (as opposed to Twitter handles) or Twitter bios. If you have joined a new platform and want to find familiar voices, Justin Pot explains how in an article at Wired. Hint: just use search filters.
But . . . Many people post screenshots of their Twitter musings onto other platforms. (Vice versa as well.) To me that’s kind of dumb because both Post and Mastodon allow for long posts not possible on Twitter. Cross-posting ignores the fundamental strengths of various platforms.
Use a social media management tool. Sprout Social and Hootsuite, two popular platforms, enable users to post to multiple social accounts at the same time. Diana cautions that “because each platform has its own flavor,” tools of this type aren’t the best way to get meaningful engagement. But, she adds, they do “help one post appear easily across many platforms.”
Good to know: Sprout Social is pretty expensive for individual use, but it makes sense and is highly recommended for businesses. Hootsuite has an individual plan that is not cheap but still reasonably priced for individuals. AgoraPulse, though not as well known as the other two, also has an affordable plan. Buffer remains my favorite of the scheduling apps, and for people only interested in personal use, their free plan may be enough. Tweepsmap works with only six social media faves, but talk about bang for your buck! These platforms all have smartphone apps as well as browser-based versions.
But . . . Diana reminds us cross-posting isn’t a social media best practice. For instance, hashtags that work well on Instagram look silly on Facebook. “I try not to do it because each platform is so unique, but sometimes, I have to choose between not putting out any information or putting it out in the fastest way possible. I don't think it is a cardinal sin, but I would avoid cross-posting the same content when possible,” Diana elaborates. So, especially for personal use, if a shortcut will save you stress, consider it.
Track your results, especially when using social media professionally. Posting a lot on a whole bunch of platforms without assessing results is like being a hamster spinning a wheel. As Carla emphasizes, “whatever you do, make sure you’re tracking it. If you’re doing a campaign, make sure you have a measuring tool.”
Good to know: Some platforms provide their own analytics. Flipboard, the platform mentioned above, shows users free analytics for the past 30 days. Twitter’s free analytics also provide good insights, but for only the past 28 days. Mastodon, being what it is, also has a built-in, but quite basic, scheduler. (Tweepsmap offers robust and reasonably-priced Mastondon-friendly plans.)
But . . . the free analytics provided by platforms give great snapshots and can be helpful, especially if you set short term goals or can set a schedule where you screen shot or otherwise enter data regularly into your own spreadsheet. (The spreadsheet method seems like a lot of work to me, and time is money.) Again, if you are doing social media professionally or if you’re seriously trying to establish yourself as an influencer, you need good tools. Check out the links above.
As I was typing, a colleague messaged me, “you know, you should really be spending more time looking at Telegram, Signal, and WhatsApp groups.” I did not need to hear that.
So, if you have any advice, please let all of us know in the comments below.
Linda Bernstein is VP of Education at Digimentors. She can be found on Twitter @wordwhacker, on Post.News @wordwhacker, and in Sree’s Facebook Group. (If you're not already a member, click the link and join.)