Why we’re taking a break from social media

By Hannah Moss

In this post we’ll explain our reasons for coming off social media, what we’re focusing on instead and help you decide whether it could be the right move for your ethical business, too.

Some alarming statistics

According to Smart Insights, more than half of the world now uses social media (59%), which equates to 4.7 billion people, and the average daily time spent using social media is 2h 29m.

That’s a lot of people actively using Facebook (2.9 million globally according to Smart Insights), YouTube (2.4 million), Instagram (1.4 million), TikTok (1 million) and countless other platforms.

But at what cost?

A study reported by MIT Sloan in 2022 found “a significant link between the presence of Facebook and increases in anxiety and depression among college students.”

According to the Royal Society for Public Health, “Social media has been described as more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol” and “Social media use is linked with increased rates of anxiety, depression and poor sleep.”

We all know how addictive social media can be and that it’s probably not the best thing we could be doing for our mental or emotional health. But, of course, this all depends on how we use it. Using social networks can of course be immensely effective for some businesses.

Why we’re enjoying a social media detox

Social media has become an integral part of our lives. It’s a way of staying connected with friends and family around the world, but it’s also become a platform for businesses to promote their products and services. However, due to rapidly increasing user numbers and changing algorithms, it’s becoming harder and harder to get noticed. And this can be a major source of stress and anxiety, especially for small businesses.

Questionable ethics

Here at Wildheart we’re proud to be running a business with ethical principles at its core. Due to the negative impact on mental health and the questionable ethics of most social networks, we don’t want to keep people on social media; we want to encourage people to move off it. If we keep posting our own content, we’ll be contributing to the problem. And this feels counterintuitive for our business. A social media detox feels much more healthy! Not to mention, more aligned with our values.

No cold calling

Promoting your products and services on social media is the equivalent of cold calling. You’re basically trying to convince people that they need what you’re offering. For example, if you advertise on Facebook, you’re simply hoping that people will be attracted to your ad. And that’s if they even see the ad in their feed in the first place! This is known as outbound advertising.

When you create content on your website that’s optimised for SEO, then people who are actually looking for something related to your content (and hopefully therefore related to what you offer!) will find your content and visit your website. This is known as inbound advertising and is the opposite of cold calling. Again, this is more aligned with our ethical values.

Energy drainer

Social media can take up way too much time and energy. It’s easy to get sucked into scrolling through feeds for hours on end, but that time could be better spent on other activities that are more productive and fulfilling. Social media can also be a bit of a distraction, which can make it difficult to focus on the important things that really matter.

Websites take priority

Social media platforms are designed to keep people on them. However, we believe your website should be the hub of your business. This is where you own your own content, you can lay out all the information about your business and your offerings in a clear, well-organised way, and where the buying decisions and payments are usually made. Therefore, as far as we’re concerned, the main reason you’d be using social media in the first place is to drive people back to your website.

Hard to measure

On social media it’s very easy to get caught up with ‘vanity metrics’, such as likes, follows and shares. But, even if you have loads of followers and lots of engagement, how much of it actually translates to paying customers? Vanity metrics might feel nice but they’re very hard to measure. In our own experience, hardly any of our clients can categorically say they get a significant number of people signing up to their classes and events from social media alone.

Building deeper connections

Another reason we’re taking a break from social media is because we want to focus on building deeper connections with our audience. Social media has its place, but it can be a superficial way of connecting with people. We want to engage with our audience in a more meaningful way, and we believe that taking a break from social media will allow us to focus on what’s really important: building our business, connecting with our audience and living a more fulfilling life.

What we’re choosing to focus on instead

So, if we don’t use social media to find new clients, what do we do instead? Here’s a quick overview of our ethical marketing strategies:

  1. Blog writing: This is a form of content marketing, where we create and share regular, original content that’s informative, educational or entertaining, with the aim of building brand loyalty and demonstrating our expertise.
  2. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): Organic SEO is where we conduct in-depth research and then optimise our website’s content and structure to rank higher in relevant search engine results pages. This means more of the right kinds of people – who are interested in what we have to offer – will find our website and get in touch.
  3. Email marketing: This involves building an engaged email list and then sending targeted newsletters and other email campaigns to that list. This is particularly useful when we have a specific product to promote, but for our business this strategy hasn’t been nearly as successful as the first two strategies above. This is down to our business model and audience, though. Email marketing can be incredibly effective for many businesses, as we’ll demonstrate below.
  4. Creating connections: Part of our sales process is to offer a free consultation to anyone interested in working with us, who we feel would be a good fit for our business. We have a high conversion rate for these consultations, because when people meet us they generally like us! This may sound conceited, but because we’ve chosen to work in a niche that we operate in ourselves (wellbeing businesses and spiritual entrepreneurs), we often feel instantly connected to our clients. We usually have shared values and experiences in common and many of our clients say we really ‘get’ them and where they’re coming from. To us, it’s much more important to have a small, engaged audience of like-minded people, than a vast superficial audience of relative strangers.

Practising what we preach

Publishing regular, original blog posts and optimising our website for SEO are the two most important things we’ve done for our business in the 8 years that we’ve been operating. It’s a long-term, organic approach, which has been very successful for us.

Many of the people who contact us have either been recommended via word of mouth, or they’ve come across our blog articles when searching for phrases like, ‘yoga marketing’, ‘ethical marketing’, ‘how to grow my yoga business’, ‘brand strategy for spiritual business’ or ‘seo for meditation business’. This demonstrates how powerful content marketing plus good organic SEO can be in attracting more visitors to your website – which is why we practise what we preach!

To be or not to be on social media?

If you’ve worked with us or read any of our blog posts, you probably quickly realised that we’ve never been big fans of social media. Many of our clients come to us asking about social media: Should they be using it? How should they be using it? What if they really don’t want to use it?

And our answer is always the same: If you don’t want to use it, don’t! 

If you don’t feel comfortable using it, this will come across in your communications, which won’t do you any favours. There are plenty of other ways to reach new and existing customers, as we’ve outlined above, most of which are low cost, fairly simple and, above all, measurable.

Because our clients are all solopreneurs or running small businesses, we always encourage them to focus on organic marketing first, rather than giving yet more money to the billionaires who run Meta and Google!

A recent real-life example

A perfect example of this is when one of our clients, a yoga studio owner, recently had an event to promote with 6 places left to fill. She asked whether she should boost the post on Facebook to help fill it. We suggested that before paying to do this, she send out a targeted email to her list focusing on just this one event. Guess what? She filled those final spaces within just a few hours of sending out the email! No more social posts were needed and she didn’t need to fork out on advertising either. We love helping our clients to save money!

We’re not the only ones having a social media detox

A quick search online shows us that we’re not the only ones enjoying a social media detox right now. Check out these (much larger) UK and US businesses who’ve decided to turn their backs on it altogether, with resounding successes:

Lush

This popular UK bath and body products retailer has a strong commitment to ethical sourcing and environmental sustainability. While the company has active social media accounts, it has also taken a stand against some social media platforms for their privacy policies and use of personal data. Read this article to find out more.

Harrods

This iconic department store in London doesn’t have an official social media presence. The company has a strong brand and reputation, and relies on its in-store experience and traditional marketing methods to attract customers.

The White Company

This UK-based retailer of home goods and clothing does have a social media presence, but doesn’t engage with customers through social media. The company’s founder has stated that she prefers to focus on traditional marketing methods and delivering high-quality products and customer service.

Huel

This UK-based meal replacement company has gained a large following in recent years, but doesn’t have an official social media presence. The company relies on word-of-mouth marketing and customer reviews to promote its products.

Patagonia

This US outdoor clothing and gear company has a strong commitment to sustainability and ethical business practices. While the company has an Instagram account, it rarely posts and has no other social media presence. Instead, the company relies on its reputation and loyal customer base to drive sales.

In-N-Out Burger

This popular US fast-food chain has a cult-like following but doesn’t have an official social media presence. Despite this, the company has managed to maintain its loyal fan base through word-of-mouth and traditional advertising.

When social media IS a good idea

Of course, we don’t live under a rock and we know social media isn’t going away any time soon. We also know that many brands have found great success leveraging social networks to their advantage. But what we don’t know is how much time, money, energy and other resources it’s taken for them to get there.

If you run a small business, we’d always encourage you to question whether it’s the right move for you. To help you look at both sides of the argument, here are some reasons why being on social media could be a good idea for your business:

  1. Building brand awareness: Social media can be an effective way to introduce a new brand or product to potential customers and build awareness of your brand. By creating engaging content and promoting it to a targeted audience, you might be able to generate a buzz and attract new followers. However, this will take a lot of time and effort, and you should always encourage your followers to join your email list too.
  2. Engaging with customers: Social media can provide your business with a direct line of communication to your customers. By responding to comments and messages, you can demonstrate your commitment to customer service and build stronger relationships with your customers. However, this is usually more relevant for retail and other product-based brands.
  3. Showcasing products or services: Social media can give you a platform from which to showcase your products and services through images, videos and other visual content. This can help potential customers get a better sense of what you offer and make informed purchasing decisions. However, getting that content in front of the right people is another matter entirely!
  4. Promoting sales and special offers: You can use social media to promote sales, discounts and other special offers to a wide audience. By creating targeted ad campaigns, you can drive traffic to your website and increase sales. However, this obviously costs more money and, depending on the size of your email list and your business, email marketing could be just as effective for you.
  5. Influencer marketing: Social media influencers have large followings and can be powerful advocates for businesses. By partnering with influencers to promote your products or services, your business could reach new audiences and build brand awareness. However, this obviously depends on what you offer and in what field, and requires a lot of persistence and determination to be successful.

Should your business take a break from social media?

We hope we’ve given you plenty to think about when it comes to the advantages and disadvantages of using social media for your business. Ultimately, your decision will depend on your business’s specific goals, target audience and industry. And on your own personal feelings about social media, of course!

For example, let’s say you’re a yoga teacher who offers regular classes and workshops. You struggle to get people to join your email list, but you know that most of your students are on Facebook. Therefore, the best way to let your existing students know about class updates and new events is to post them on Facebook. And, the chances are, that potential new students will be in a similar place too, so Facebook is probably a good platform for you.

If you own a meditation studio, and you run regular courses about the negative impacts of stress, screen use and social media, you might decide that it’s counterintuitive to use social media at all. Instead, you could choose to focus on building an engaged email list, sending out regular newsletters and targeted emails, writing thought-provoking blog posts and optimising your website for SEO.

Reasons to take a social media detox

Here are a few reminders of why you might choose to focus on blog writing, SEO and email marketing rather than social media:

  • On social media you don’t own your own content.
  • On social media you have no way of controlling who sees your content (unless you pay).
  • Publishing original articles in your blog allows you to build trust and demonstrate your expertise.
  • Email marketing allows you to send targeted emails to an engaged list.
  • You can prune your email list to keep it even more engaged.
  • An SEO-optimised website allows more of the right people to find your content and interact with your business.
  • Organic SEO is a long-term strategy that improves over time – and we’re living proof that it works!

Be brave – make the leap!

We know there isn’t about to be a mass exodus from social media. But we hope that, by sharing our experiences, we can encourage others to take a break from social media – particularly if you feel it’s becoming a source of stress and anxiety in your life. In these days of misinformation, fake news, mental health crises and screen overload, who could blame you?!

As we’ve demonstrated, there are lots of other effective ethical marketing strategies you can try, especially if you run a small business. If you’d like some guidance working out what those strategies are, and how to implement them in your business, get in touch and we’ll help kickstart your social media detox!

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