How many times over the past year have you said some version of, “I need to spend less time on my phone?”
If you’re like me, it’s a near-weekly occurrence, but drawing boundaries with our tech use is much easier said than done. During the pandemic, the time we spent socially distanced from family and friends naturally led to increased connectivity—which has created an interesting tension for many of us. While we may feel an innate need to get off our phones and connect IRL, there’s no arguing with the fact that over the past year, we’ve seen a 43% uptick in monthly Instagram usage. And according to Recode, many people reported “extremes” in their social media use: “periods of constant usage that ultimately led them to feel overwhelmed or anxious, which resulted in cutting off social media usage altogether.”
So the question I personally keep coming back to is: how can I make the most of all the benefits of social media without becoming imprisoned by the constant scrolling, monitoring, and posting? We know that social media can be an incredibly positive tool for connecting with others and building a brand online. But it can also come with a cost if we’re not mindful in the way that we’re using it. On my personal journey, I’m learning to set boundaries around social media that prioritize my mental health and well being, while still leveraging social media as an important tool for my business. And since I know this topic is top of mind for many of you too, I thought I’d share some of the practices our team has put in place to help us use Instagram positively, without the burnout.
We teamed up with PLANOLY, a platform we use every day, to answer some of your questions about building a healthy relationship with social media. The number one tip at the top of my list? Use an app to plan your Instagram feed in advance so that you’re not posting reactively or missing out on the moment. If you’ve ever felt that icky, joy-sucking feeling of, “Should I be posting right now?” while you’re on vacation or at dinner with friends, you know what I’m talking about. Using PLANOLY to plan your Instagram feed can help you reach your own personal and career goals on the platform, so read on for a few expert tips and hacks that have been super helpful for me.
My top strategy for eliminating social media anxiety? Plan content in advance.
It pains me to remember times in the past when I felt like I missed out on moments with family and friends because I was posting to social or capturing content that I “might” post to social, or spending way too long trying to think of the perfect caption. But no more, my friends! I made the decision last year that being present > constant posting, so now just about every Instagram post on my feed is planned and scheduled in advance.
With increased toxicity and negativity online these days, this is also a great tool to eliminate reactive posting that you might regret later. Remind yourself that it’s okay to pause and consider what you really want to add to a conversation, rather than pushing something out reactively. Having the right tools in place to plan, schedule, and analyze your content is key to this more measured approach, which we’ll get to below.
Read on for my answers to some of the top questions around simplifying and streamlining your social media strategy:
How can I spend less time on social media but still reach my business goals?
If you’re in a career (or have a side hustle) that relies on social media as a marketing tool, it can feel like a never-ending task on your to-do list. There’s always more you could be doing, creating, and posting – but I personally don’t want to spending hours on social media, and I bet many of you don’t either.
But I promise that you can still crush your social media strategy without spending all day on your phone. The key is setting clearly defined boundaries and sticking to them.
The most useful boundary-setting tool for me is a principal called time batching, that prevents social media from seeping into every corner of my life. Time batching is a system that groups one activity into a dedicated time period without interruptions. The goal is to focus on just one thing at a time, by helping minimize distractions for a more concentrated workflow. As a general rule, I batch my time spent on social media, and spend about 15 minutes per day scrolling through my feed, and get inspired and informed by others’ content. When it comes to content creation, I add it to my to-do list and section out a portion of my workday to choose imagery, add it to my feed in PLANOLY, and write captions.
Think: less anxiety and stress, more time to focus on creativity and community building. If this sounds like what you’re looking for, now is a good time to try it out. Our first 500 readers can use code “camillestyles” to receive 100% off first month of PLANOLY, between now and July 31, 2021. Download it here!
How do I create boundaries around social media?
If your Sunday morning screen time stats show you’re spending WAY more time on your phone that you want to, time batching may be for you. It helps me stay aware of how much time I’m spending on social media, and if I need to make some changes, I create boundaries for my phone usage. For example, I may set a self-imposed rule to leave my phone in a drawer while I sleep so I’m not tempted to scroll first thing in the morning. Or if I want to spend uninterrupted time with my kids in the evening, I’ll turn my phone on airplane mode between 6pm – 8pm. This eliminates that gut response to constantly check my phone.
One other practical tool is using PLANOLY’s auto-post functionality, which allows you to schedule out content out for the next few days, weeks, or even months ahead. Gathering all of your social media content beforehand will help you create a consistent social strategy, as well as help you stay on top of everything that you’re planning to post. If you have lots of content to share, but don’t want to be glued to your phone all day, this is for you! It’s so satisfying to watch your posts just appear in your feed without having to spend extra time to manually pushing them live when you’re busy living your life.
What tools will simplify my social media strategy?
Asana is the software platform we use to plan and assign all of our team’s tasks, from on-site articles to marketing initiatives to photography production. Social media is an integrated part of all of these things, and we have a dedicated project in Asana with our high-level social calendar and tasks assigned to varying team members.
PLANOLY is the app we use to actually plan our Instagram feed. Its functionality allows us to visualize how an image will look in-feed, plus write captions, drop in hashtags, schedule, and even auto-post — quite simply, PLANOLY is the best Instagram planning app we’ve used. This system helps our team approach Instagram as a collaborative process, and the design of the platform allows us to maximize creativity and storytelling throughout our content.
How do I make sure my social media content gets seen?
This is one of the top questions about social media strategy since changes to the algorithm have dramatically affected how many of our followers actually see our content in their feeds. And while there are many factors that affect this (engagement rate, hashtags, using the breadth of Instagram’s features, etc.), one of the most important things about successfully navigating the platform is knowing when to post your content.
Knowing when your audience is online is essential to user engagement so that you can plan to post when your audience is active on Instagram. You can find the best times to post on Instagram across the globe here. Using this as your guide will increase the chance that your audience can engage with the content that they want to see from you.
Does this mean you have to stop everything you’re doing and get on Instagram at a specific time every day? Thanks to PLANOLY’s auto-post feature, that’s no longer the case. Their Quick Schedule allows you to set preset times to schedule or auto-post your Instagram content. You can also enable your posts to schedule at “Best Time to Post,” based on when your audience is most active on Instagram.
How do I create video content without spending tons of time or money?
Video content is king (or queen) for 2021, and if social media is important to growing your business or brand, it’s one of the best ways to get discovered by new audiences. We all know that it’s increasingly difficult to grow your followers and engagement on Instagram as the space gets more crowded, so understanding how to navigate the platform is key. Leveraging each of Instagram’s video tools will help populate your content on the coveted Explore Page and the new Reels tab on the home screen navigation, which is key to getting your content in front of new audiences. And if this sounds like one more major project to add to your to-do list, you’re somewhat right. Video content isn’t easy and it can be expensive to produce, so for me, it’s about working smarter not harder.
Two tips for making social videos on a budget:
Embrace the trend towards authentic, less polished video content. Capture your authentic self, unfiltered. Write a caption in your real voice. Nix all the major edits and just get that video out — you may find that the less “perfect” your video is, the more your audience actually engages with it!
Go live. Instagram reported increased viewing for its Live feature over the course of 2020, and similar increases are expected to continue in 2021. The beauty of live video? It doesn’t require any professional shooting, editing, or fancy equipment. You can add your Live to your IGTV so that your audience can continue to view your content later.
How to Use PLANOLY to Post on Instagram:
Using PLANOLY to plan your Instagram feed and schedule posts not only saves time — it also cuts down on anxiety over what to post and when. The goal? Letting you live in the moment and focus your attention on creating instead of posting! Here’s how our team uses PLANOLY:
- First, add a new post to your PLANOLY grid to see how it looks in your feed. Click the ‘+’ icon above the grid preview. Then, choose the graphic that you want to upload for your post.
- Next, write your post caption. Our team uses the caption area in PLANOLY to ideate caption ideas and riff off each other’s captions since it automatically updates on everyone’s apps.
- Add hashtags. This is also a great place to save groups of hashtags that are commonly used (we have different groups for our categories: beauty, interior design, wellness, etc.) You can click the “#” icon and the hashtags automatically pop into your caption. PLANOLY also has a paid feature that allows you to add hashtags to the first comment if that’s your preferred spot.
- Tag other users: Click “tag users” under your image, add a username, and drag it to the image where you want it to appear.
- Add it to the calendar. When you’ve got a post you love, you can add it to the calendar and schedule it to go live. When you click the date box, a calendar and time slot options will appear. You’ll know that a post is scheduled to go live when you see the paper airplane icon.
There you have it! This is our team’s current method for planning our content in advance and gaining more peace of mind – and time off our phones. I’d love to hear in the comments how you guys plan your Instagram feed and create healthy boundaries around social media use.
Don’t forget to use code “camillestyles” to receive 100% off first month of PLANOLY, between now and July 31, 2021. Download it here!