Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 6 December 2019

Why social media is not a good comparison of success in business

Apps such as Instagram have made it easier to weigh up metrics with competitors, but is this always healthy?

Limiting your time online could help you to be more productive. The National
Limiting your time online could help you to be more productive. The National

Instagram started a testing phase a few months ago that involves hiding the number of likes a post receives. The test rolled out in countries including Canada, Ireland, and Japan. Last week, Instagram chief executive Adam Mosseri announced that Instagram will start hiding the number of likes for US users.

Number of likes for a post will be visible to a user on a personal account, but not to those following them. Instagram is undertaking this as part of its efforts to make the app a safe place online for people to engage and communicate, and to compare themselves less to others based on the numbers of likes a post receives.

Social media apps have made it easy for businesses to check out the competition, explore the latest marketing trends and connect directly with customers. But it has also made it common to hear comments from many entrepreneurs along the lines of: “How come they receive more likes?” or “They have so many likes. I’ll never be liked like that”. It had resulted in a number of entrepreneurs and users continuously comparing how they are doing in business and in life with the curated feed that others post online. This continuous comparison has resulted in depression and loneliness.

A study by the University of Pennsylvania, published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, explores this aspect. Researchers randomly assigned 143 undergraduate students to two groups: either to continue using social media apps the way they do, or to limit their time on Instagram, Facebook, and SnapChat to 10 minutes per app a day. Those who spent less time on their social media apps, reported significant reduction in loneliness and depression.

A study by the University of Pennsylvania, published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, explores this aspect. Researchers randomly assigned 143 undergraduate students to two groups: either to continue using social media apps the way they do, or to limit their time on Instagram, Facebook, and SnapChat to 10 minutes per app a day. Those who spent less time on their social media apps, reported significant reduction in loneliness and depression.

When building a business, looking at competitors and evaluating how they operate is necessary, but don’t let it take over your life. Comparing your business to other businesses online could quickly lead you to feel discouraged. Part of my job entails me to always be on social media and to keep up to date with how different platforms and influencers operate, but that unintentionally made me feel overwhelmed. I thought I needed to do this or do that, or maybe customers would be interested in this service. My brain was on alert the whole time and it wasn’t healthy.

Luckily there are two ways you can break free from the comparison cycle, for you to keep focused on your business development and growth, and to use the apps in a more positive way.

Even if your job requires you to always be in the know when it comes to social media, it is necessary to dedicate certain times in your day to doing that, and to go online with the intention of expanding your knowledge. For my work, I’ve dedicated an hour in the morning for my social media update session, and then it stops at that. I’m also trying as much as possible to break the habit of checking my social media feed when I’m waiting in queues. Instead, I read blogs, and other news. When I dedicated a specific time each day, I found that I was still connected and up-to-date, without letting the apps take over my life and feeling that I’m always online.

When on social media, you may find yourself comparing the first day in your journey to someone’s day 1,000, and that is not fair. A lot of times we see people posting about their milestones and achievements online, but what we may not see are the hours and efforts they’ve invested to reach where they are. We need to always keep in mind that what people post online is curated content, and doesn’t necessarily reflect the entire reality. Focus on your own efforts, on your journey, and always look at how far you’ve come.

It is natural to be constantly on the lookout to compare yourself to other businesses and see how they are evolving. Realising where you are in your journey, limiting your social media feed intake, and not letting others’ success and what they post on social media overwhelm you are important steps in your journey towards achieving your goals.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur, who manages her marketing and communications company in Abu Dhabi

Updated: November 17, 2019 10:51 AM

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