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The "Social media dilemma" - To post or not to post, that is the question.

I am on two social media platforms. One of them, I created over 10 years ago and is collecting inches of dust. The other I started so that I can watch funny reels and learn some new cooking ideas or tips. Even though social media wasn’t a big part of my life, I can still get stuck on it. I pick up my phone to check something, get distracted by a notification, watch one video and 2 hours later I can still be flicking lifelessly through (mostly) useless content.

I’ll be brutally honest - I did not have an overly positive view of social media and you can get lost in it. I can also be quite critical of the people posting on it. I didn’t understand why people would post everything about their personal lives from food pics to relationship status, and what they were doing every single moment of the day. Even on professional social media sites, I found myself getting frustrated and turned off by people highlighting their work with phrases like “I’m so grateful for the chance to...”  with all the filters, flashy reels, and posts capturing the “perfect” moment. I really struggled with it all.

Personal views aside, as someone who studies and works in the culture and human behaviour space, I am fascinated by the addictive nature of social apps and the way “the algorithm” can curate personalized content based on stories or images that people like, follow, share etc. It all seems to come at us in a never-ending onslaught of information that would tap right into our  “deepest” needs and neural programming.

The more you learn about the space, the more you realize “Healthy social media consumption”, is not really a matter of willpower, because the scales are not equal. Often it is one person against the equivalent of one million in terms of the capabilities and intelligence of social media to lure you back in after your “just one more minute” boundary. The reality is, social apps are one of the only markets where the commodity isn’t a thing, the commodity is us, and our attention.

So, when I started Ember Experience, the idea of jumping into the social media frenzy to promote our brand felt really uncomfortable and maybe even, NOT the “right thing” to do. As the pressure to do something mounted, I had so many questions; how much should we post, on what platform do we do it, what type of content do we post, and in what form do we do it… the questions kept piling up.

On top of being unsure of what to do, in the small attempts I did make, I felt the pressure to create the perfect post or video, and I found myself checking our social media accounts more and more frequently to see how many likes, comments or follows we got. I was getting caught up in “the algorithm” and I felt myself getting lost in it all. 

I was and still am hesitant about it. I realized my hesitation wasn’t solely about social media itself, but a blend of insecurity, a dash of imposter syndrome about the worth of my ideas, coupled with confusion on how I can live up to my values on social apps.

I felt deeply torn.

Fortunately, I have people around me who offer support and hold me accountable. I started to recognize that some of the harsh judgements I made of people using the platform were fueled by my own insecurities, defensiveness, and jealousy. I own that. I have shifted my focus from what others are doing on social media to understanding the impact I could have not only on others but also on myself. My marketing team provided meaningful evidence about the benefits we could get from engaging with social apps. I began to reframe my perspective and noticed there is good stuff to social media— the connections, the sense of community, and even the possibility of positive changes happening because of online conversations.

I started to come to terms with the fact that avoiding social media may not be the answer. We started to ask ourselves, how can we use these platforms to promote our brand voice, highlight things that matter to us, share meaningful ideas, and connect with people. So, I dug deep, did some homework, self-reflected, listened to podcasts, and talked to experts. I wanted to better understand how we could use social media without compromising our values as individuals and as a company.

We came up with a plan and guiding principles that can help us stay true to ourselves on social media. Here’s what we do:

1.     Take care of our Minds: We know the correlation between mental health and social media usage. So, our team practices healthy boundaries by taking breaks and practicing intentional posting. We believe in following accounts that inspire, educate and uplift rather than chasing likes or “going viral.”

2.     Check the FactsAll the posts that we like, and share go through fact-checking and need to have a specific standard of credibility before being presented. Being aware of potential misinformation, verifying sources, and promoting digital literacy is crucial in combating the spread of false information.

3.     Keep it Real: We ensure that everything we post is true to who we are and what we believe in. We want people to look at our pages and posts and not just understand our brand but understand our purpose and message.

4.     Build Genuine Connections: Quality over quantity guides our approach to online relationships. We're not just throwing metaphorical pasta at the wall to see what sticks. We're careful about what we share and who we connect with and try to be intentional, consistent, and specific in our messaging.

By honouring these guiding principles, we've managed to use social media in a way that feels right to us - Sharing our message without losing sight of what we stand for. There are a lot of factors to consider with social media, however it is also just another space where we can find ways to live up to the values we hold.

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