I have a confession to make. I love social media. I love the personal interactions, the different styles of communicating, the (never ending) stream of information and I am amazed every day at the enormity of its reach.

It’s great for businesses too. You can get your message out to an audience that just ten years ago would have been unimaginable. Many businesses are built solely on social media platforms!

But a post by a friend today reminded me that social media does have a dark side. Hold tight young Jedi’s whilst I explain to you why social media can be bad for you and business.

Social media as a personal validator

This is a big one. A really big one. Many people use social media to substantiate what they think, how they feel and what they do. On a personal level, many people use the number of likes on a post, or the number of friends or followers as justification of their life.

In business it is reflected in the constant strive to increase the number of followers.

Online interactions shouldn’t be used as a validation of you as a person, or what you’re doing as a business. I acknowledge that the more followers a business has, the greater the reach and potential for sales. However, these figures shouldn’t be the sole driver for your social activities. Your posts should be genuine, engaging and reflect the core values of your business, regardless of the number of followers. That’s when the true magic happens.

Social media as a tool for comparison

It is extremely easy, especially in large groups in Facebook to constantly compare yourself to what others are doing. It is also very easy to compare yourself to your competitors, as it is in your News Feed every day. Some people even follow competitors so they know what they are up to. This is not healthy!

On a personal level, comparison can extend to stalking exes, their new loves and other aspects of their lives. All of these activities are a waste of your precious time and energy, but most importantly a detriment to your mental health.

Use your time to concentrate on you or what your business is offering to the world. Your unique selling point will ensure that you are differentiating yourself from your competition. Don’t dwell on what others are doing. Focus internally to ensure you are always giving your best.

Social media can be rude and not always truthful

My children actually came up with this point! And it’s a good one. You really can’t believe everything you read. It’s so dangerous when a simple statement can be shared, become viral and then seen as the truth. It’s so easy to be tricked, scammed and conned when dealing with online transactions.

It is also so easy to spread negativity through derogatory or damaging comments. You should also use the age old rule that if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, then you shouldn’t be putting it online.

Social media can be addictive

I can see how people waste copious amounts of time on social media. I am often on the brink of it myself. A few times during the school holidays my children have called me out on the time spent looking at my phone!

It’s extremely easy to pick up your mobile as it’s so accessible. Make sure you set time limits for browsing and ensure that you stick to them.

I have always had a fascination with the human interaction element of social media. Managing social media is a part of my service offering and I understand all the benefits of it. But I urge you to be wary of the pitfalls and the huge impact that it can have on your life. Use it for good, not evil!

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