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What to do if you’re a business owner who hates social media…

Woman on social media using phone

It was 2018, and I was in a fluorescent-lit conference room, leading a class called “Social Media 101”. It was a workshop for small business owners, and a large portion of the class time centered around explaining what a hashtag was, as well as how to use social media as a marketing tool. Inevitably during these classes, someone would raise their hand and sheepishly ask, “But what do I do if I really, really, really hate social media?”

I had an answer prepared—something about creating a system to keep up with posting consistently and looking for ways to make it creative because it is an essential part of marketing in this day and age. But in the back of my mind, I was thinking “Yeah. I hate it too.”

As a business owner, you have to take on so many different roles and responsibilities. Many days, the number of urgent things on your to-do list crowds out the time and mental energy it takes to post something online. Even more, the platforms we’re posting on are increasingly rife with toxic negativity and over-the-top advertising, so it feels daunting, draining, and even dangerous to try and add your marketing message to the mix. 

Here’s my confession–I’ve never been good at posting on social media. I’m a marketing consultant. I literally teach classes on social media marketing. But I too struggle with consistent posting schedules, increasing my followers, and growing my platform. Sometimes it’s a simple matter of low capacity—I’m too damn busy working on other client’s social media content to post a reel on my channel. Other times it’s been life circumstances—I spent most of the last year on bed rest, in the NICU with my premature twins, or you know, being a mom of newborn twins! Over the last seven months, brushing my teeth each day felt like an accomplishment, so getting a post up on Facebook wasn’t even on my radar. 

But a lot of the time, my hesitancy and lack of follow-through on my social media strategy had more to do with my mental health. Getting on social media and posting content came with a lot of comparison, doom scrolling, and caring way too much when my post didn’t get very many likes. It wasn’t worth the emotional cost. So my channels stayed silent.

One of my heroes, and longtime inspirations, Brené Brown recently posted about her year-long hiatus from social media:

I’ve stepped back considerably from the public part of my life — especially social media, where defensiveness and armor (and words as weapons) seem to be currency of the realm. I don’t know exactly how to do social media anymore. I love community, conversation, and debate. I enjoy sharing what I’m researching, what I’m observing about the world, and what I’m learning about myself. I also love learning from other people’s experiences and insights…(but) I have to say the level of exploitation on social is a tragic reflection of the current human condition. From preying on people’s fears to traumatizing children for likes and laughs or featuring parents with dementia for followers — it can be heart hardening.”

I love that Brené gave herself permission to focus on “the work that energizes (her) and pulling back from the work that doesn’t.” That intentionality empowers her to show up and be the leader she wants, and the world truly needs. 

Taking a hiatus, or even not having a social media presence isn’t “good” marketing advice. It doesn’t serve the algorithms, nor will this advice go viral. But being intentional about how you approach social media, or all of your marketing and public-facing aspects of your business is essential to your well-being and your ability to run your business. 

Because here’s the thing—even though I’m terrible at social media, my business has consistently grown year after year. I have consistent leads coming to my website and a waiting list of projects cued up. My most important marketing strategy has been and will always be showing up well for my current clients, and exceeding their expectations to the point where they naturally refer businesses to me. 

If a client comes to me wanting to grow their business, I advise them to spend time improving their website and finding ways to increase repeat business before even thinking about social media marketing. It’s true, social media can be a powerful way to connect with potential clients and a great place to creatively share your message. But it’s not the end-all-be-all marketing tool for most businesses. It certainly doesn’t have to be if the very thought of social media fills you with dread. 

If that’s you, here are some permission slips.

  • You have permission to take a hiatus from social media. Delete it off your phone. Go radio silent for a few months. You just may come back feeling refreshed and creatively inspired. 

  • You have permission to focus your marketing efforts on true connection with your existing and potential clients. Rather than spending money on Meta ads, why not spend your marketing dollars taking potential clients out for coffee, getting your repeat clients a thank-you gift, or paying a photographer to take better photos for your website? 

  • You have permission to post how and when it works best for you. Forget the algorithm. Forget what other influencers are doing. Find your voice and be confident that the right people will find you. 

  • You have permission to delegate your marketing to someone else. You wear enough hats—maybe marketing doesn’t need to be one of them. (And if that permission slip feels particularly life-giving to you, reach out to our team and we can chat!)

Social media was created to be a place to connect, to share what’s important to you, and to listen to others. At the heart of marketing, I believe it’s the creative act of connecting with the people you’re trying to help. If the ways social media has morphed get in the way of you genuinely connecting, then you have the power to pause, take a step back, and choose how you want to connect in ways that truly work for you.  


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