Our day-to-day lives have changed dramatically in this past year – both on a professional as well as on a personal level. In today’s episode of Event Brew, Nick, Thuy, and Will will mostly talk about the latter portion of their lives. They will dive deep into social media and how their opinions about it have changed since the beginning of the pandemic.
Since we were mostly confined to the walls of our homes, social media was often the only way we could communicate with one another. But as more time passed, virtual fatigue started weighing us down. Our attitudes about social media have changed, and the brew crew is no exception. So, grab a drink, press play, and let’s brew something up!
The Brew Crew Made Some Social Media Changes
So, how have the opinions of our lovely hosts changed since the pandemic hit us a little bit over a year ago? Will shares his thoughts first. “I’m very active on social media and I’ve been a big proponent for social media for a long time. But I actually don’t manage most of my social media. I still tweet personally, but it’s on top of what comes from the team.”
“I deleted the Facebook app three years ago. But this last year, with everyone hating WhatsApp, I was able to convince a lot of my friends to switch over to Signal. Then, I deleted my Instagram app on my phone as well. I still go check them every once in a while, but not as much as it used to. But because of that, I feel a lot more disconnected from people,” he adds.
Nick’s Story: Sick Of Social Media
Nick, too, has cut down on social media in this last year because he got really bored wit it. “I was doing social media before social media. Around 1997 when I was in high school, I built a website for myself and I was blogging in the early two-thousands. I really hit my burnout when two different things started happening at once. The first one was the election, which was really annoying because I just realized that no one was talking. It was a platform of yelling rhetoric and no actual communication. One of the things that I really like about events is the idea that they’re bringing people together, not dividing. But then I saw that social media really was just pushing people apart. No one’s listening. It’s just loudness,” he says.
The second thing that contributed to his social media burnout is COVID. “It was just depressing, there was just nothing good to talk about. Those two things just soured me a lot to sharing stuff online. I re-evaluated a lot of what I was doing. I was not really connecting with people.”
Nick hasn’t cut off social media altogether. “If I do anything on social media, I just share stuff that our company is doing because I think that’s super cool. I get to talk to people that do really awesome stuff and I get to use whatever platforms I have to talk about that. And that’s way more fulfilling than the necessity of being a one-person operation.”
“Actually, I do a fair amount of social media now, but I totally do it off the grid and it has nothing to do with work. I have very little followers.” But back in the day, his experience was different. “Everything I was doing, I was thinking how do I optimize this for content? How do I make this shareable? How do I make this something that invokes reactions? I don’t do that at all now. I just do it to ask people questions. It’s really nice to be on the sidelines of social media and not feel like I have to do it to the fullest extent just because I know how to,” he says.
Not only has he deleted several apps from his phone, Will also started consuming social media more mindfully. “I’m more about blocking newsfeeds when I’m doing social media. I get that social media is a channel for me to be able to help share information and be helpful to people. But if someone’s not gonna directly mention me, I just tune it all out. I don’t have time for the feed and the endless scrolling anymore.”
Social Media During The Pandemic
Since the pandemic started, Nick has used messaging programs the most. “I was constantly connecting with people who are in the events industry one-on-one and check up on them. I probably made more phone calls in 2020 than I did in the three years before that because I just wanted one-on-one conversations. I felt like I could do something there and be valuable to people.”
Thuy also shares her experience using social media in this past year. “When I was in Vegas on my burnout #1, I took accountability in the fact that I was only posting the positive things. I’m a naturally positive person. I wasn’t posting the fact that I was working really late in the office, getting really stressed, and being overloaded. That was my learning lesson. I wanted to give people a bigger perspective and more of my true story. I started posting more about things that inspired me creatively.”
The other thing she wanted to mention was comparing yourself to others on Instagram. “I got a little resentful because I didn’t look like these perfect people on Instagram. I started feeling bad about myself, which isn’t healthy. I know it’s all about engagement and genuine connections. But if I didn’t get over X amount of likes, I would delete my post. That was my mindset. Then I said, you know what, I’m just going to post random times of the day, I don’t care about the likes and the algorithm,” she says.
Talking about different groups of people we want to share with, Nick mentions a special feature Google+ once developed. “When you had friends, you would put them into different circles, which would categorize them as different levels of closeness to your life, the epicenter being the people that can see it all and then outwards, it becomes less friends and more acquaintances. The idea was that when you posted stuff, there were certain things that you would share with the close inner circle only. And then, there were certain things that you would share people on the outsides. I thought it was a pretty elegant idea.”
“I actually really liked it,” Will replies. “Facebook immediately picked up the lists that you can put people on, but then no one ended up using it.”
After the brew crew’s digression into Google+, Will brings up an important point. “Sometimes, social media curtails this ability to actually connect with people. This last year, I narrowed down my focus on a couple of key, non-digital relationships because that was all I had the energy for. What I noticed is that it feels almost as if you’re being antisocial when you tune out.” Nick agrees.
But on the other hand, in-person relationships thrive. “You’re more in the moment and you’re more present,” says Thuy. “And that matters so much because social media and creating content takes so much work. I’m constantly posting when I’m going to conferences. Now, I’ve been doing exactly what I was posting on my stories and just not posting it. The quality of life is awesome because I connect more with whoever I’m with in that moment.”
“It is a drag when you think about life as it is to be curated – as if you’re a news agency or a storyteller,” says Nick. “Those are real cool skills, but they also should have lives. When lives are like that, it’s almost vicarious. You would look back at your Instagram and remember things. But did you really feel it as much as you could have? Were you really as engaged in that conversation as you could have been? Does that matter more than being able to contextualize it for an audience?”
In his opinion, the constant struggle is just not worth it. “Now that I’ve been able to build the connections with the people through that way, I’d rather just spend more time with those people than try to climb higher or trying to find the next, better group. There’s no end to that,” he adds.
Bottom Line: Social Media Is A Game!
Nick concludes today’s conversation by saying that social media is a tool that is in itself neutral. “It can be negative or positive. It can take over a ton of your time, which it definitely has for me, or it can take up almost none of your time, which is pretty much where it’s at for me right now. As long as it serves you, that’s good. If you serve it, then that’s where it really becomes a problem.”
Social media it’s not just about validation. “For me, I didn’t need the likes in order to make myself feel good. I felt fine the way it was. I just wanted to be able to figure out the game and manipulate the game in order for the game to work for me. Then I realized there are better games,” says Nick. After all, coaches don’t play.
Nick also quickly mentions the negatives associated with playing the game of social media. “If you were a little bit more controversial and divisive, the game was slanted in the favor of that. It’s slanted in the favor of loud mouths and ideologues and people that believe that they’re right. That gets hate clicks and hate likes.”
It’s All About Content!
And finally, Nick offers some marketing advice. “A lot of our brand-building has been built upon our ability to communicate with people in mass and capture people’s attention. There are phases of that, the attention and the awareness phase. But what’s more interesting is the trust phase. I’m more interested in longer form content. The majority of the content that Will puts out now is long form that you actually are a part of.”
And indeed you are a part of our awesome community, dear listeners! Hopefully, this episode inspired you to re-evaluate your social media diet and make some well-informed decisions, just like our hosts did. And last but not least, don’t forget to tune with us again for the next episode of Event Brew!